Magdalen Hsu-Li | Smashing The Ceiling

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Pop: Piano Pop: Folky Pop Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Smashing The Ceiling

by Magdalen Hsu-Li

Magdalen's newest album "Smashing the Ceiling" is acoustic piano and guitar driven folk -pop at its best. Her ethereal and awakening voice calls to mind the finest moments of Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morrisette, Ani Difranco, Jonatha Brooke, and
Genre: Pop: Piano
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Change The World
4:46 $0.99
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2. Mary Magdalene
4:07 $0.99
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3. Sweet Hereafter
4:23 $0.99
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4. No Ordinary Girl
3:48 $0.99
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5. Everything
4:33 $0.99
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6. All Those Words
6:03 $0.99
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7. Where Would I Be
3:58 $0.99
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8. Straight On Til Morning
3:13 $0.99
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9. Northern Light
4:47 $0.99
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10. Take Me There
12:24 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
MAGDALEN HSU-LI - SMASHING THE CEILING

"When I was writing the songs on this album, I felt I was experiencing a kind of quantum leap or personal gestalt. There were so many breakthroughs that happened to me personally, emotionally, musically, & spiritually. And I am a person that is all about breaking barriers. That's why I chose to call it "Smashing the Ceiling"

- Magdalen Hsu-Li

"Smashing The Ceiling" an album of exceptional maturity and depth in the vein of solo femal artists like Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos, featuring outstanding performances by Magdalen on vocals, guitar, and piano; drummer Matt Chamberlain (Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, John Mayer, Faith Hill, Garbage, Shakira), bassist Jon Evans (Tori Amos, Paula Cole), keyboardist Julie Wolf (Ani Difranco, Catie Curtis), violinist/violist Eyvind Kang (John Zorn), and guitarist Tim Young (Wayne Horvitz)

"Smashing the Ceiling was an incredible album to make. The songs felt completely inspired as I was writing them, as if I were a just a channel and they were coming from some higher source. I was so lucky to be able to work with incredibly talented musicians like Matt, Jon, Julie, Tim, and Eyvind, and co-producers within the close-knit Seattle community. In the studio there was incredible synergy because of the shared musical histories and friendships between many of us. This music was in many ways a community effort."

"Smashing the Ceiling" showcases Magdalen's ethereal yet awakening voice on songs such as "Mary Magdalene" and "Change the World." "Several people have asked why I chose to write a song about one of the most controversial figures in Biblical history. 'Mary Magdalene' is both an autobiographical song about my life as well as a blend of various biblical mythologies about Mary Magdalene. I think she is one of the most iconic, provocative, loved, hated, and mysterious women in history. Yet her story has been misinterpreted through the centuries, so I felt it was time to help redefine her story in a more positive light. 'Change the World' is a tour de force call for consciousness in the ways we see ourselves collectively and individually. "Throughout my life I have encountered many situations where in order to achieve my goals, I had to challenge and break through my own preconceived ideas, doubts, and fears to succeed. The song is a reminder that anytime we are able to have such a breakthrough, we create a ripple effect around us that can inspire."

Other noteworthy moments on the album are songs about love, loss, identity, and reckoning such as the shimmeringly heartbreaking "Sweet Hereafter," the iridescent, quintessential, breakup song "Everything," the sublime, deliciously troubled "All Those Words," the pop-driven "I am" of "No Ordinary Girl," to soulful art-country-tinged love songs like "Where Would I Be" & "Straight on Til Morning." Two of the most smashing moments on the album are "Northern Light" and "Take Me There." "'Northern Light' is literally this moment on the record where the 'ceiling' is musically-metaphorically broken" says Magdalen. "And I believe 'Take Me There' encompasses some of my strongest singing on the album."

BIOGRAPHY

Growing up in rural backwater Virginia, singer-songwriter & painter Magdalen Hsu-Li never knew her passion for music would bring her front & center to a life on the stage. She began playing classical piano at age 8, and was even writing music at that early age. Says Magdalen, "You just couldn't stop the songs from coming. I was also painting, and at the time it seemed (to everyone) that was my stronger gift. But music was always the way for me to get in touch with the deepest parts of my emotional myself & confront my inner fears."

Early on, Magdalen focused intensely on painting, graduating with a degree in fine art from Rhode Island School of Design, and set her sights toward an art career in New York city. Soon after graduating, she had a vivid dream that abruptly changed the direction of her life. "I dreamt I was a musician living in Seattle, and I felt utterly compelled to follow its message." Checking her fears, she followed her instincts and moved to Seattle to study voice and classical and jazz piano at Cornish College of the Arts. "I never regretted my decision to put music first. I was determined to make art that could connect with people on the deepest level possible, and I know that I am best able to accomplish that for myself and for others through music."

Magdalen writes songs that visually portray what she sees with her painter's eye while addressing universal themes about love, loss, and relationships; identity, spirituality, and the search for consciousness. "I write completely from the heart," she says. "But I also write from the places I'm from (the Southeast, Northeast, and West Coast), and from my heritage. You can hear the influence of pop, folk, country, eastern music, classical, and jazz in my music." "One of the problems of our society is a lack of awareness for the wealth of cultural diversity that surrounds us," says Magdalen. "I hope I will always be defining issues of identity, raising awareness, and bringing communities together through my music." One of my goals as an artist is to break through the glass ceiling in the American music industry so that Asians become accepted as musical forces in popular music.

NOTEWORTHY FACTS

Magdalen's previous release, "Fire" was named one of the Best Top 12 DIY albums of 2002 by Performing Songwriter Magazine and her song "As I Am" was featured in the 2003 Performing Songwriter Editors Choice Compilation CD.

"Fire" was profiled by media and played on radio stations across the country, including full length stories & reviews in: Performing Songwriter, A Magazine, Rockrgrl, Voice of America, The New York Times, LA Weekly, Trenton Times, Poughkeepsie Journal, Seattle Weekly, Raleigh News and Observer, Berkeley Free Press, Burlington's 7 Days, New Orleans Gambit Weekly, Chicago Weekly News, Madison Times, and the Milwaukee Journal. Sentinel, and regular airplay on: SIRIUS Satellite Radio, WBAI - New York, WXPN - Philadelphia, WUMB - Boston, WPKN - New Haven, WPKN - Bridgeport, WMUA - Amherst, WCUW - Worcester, WCDB - Albany, WRUV - Burlington, WMPH - Wilmington, WCBN - Ann Arbor, WORT Madison, KFAI - Minneapolis, WAIF - Cincinnati, WFHB, Bloomington, KOOP - Austin, KBCS - Seattle, KAOS - Olympia, KBOO - Portland, KLCC - Eugene, KHSU - Arcata, KPFA & KALX - Berkeley, KCSF, KUSF, & KPOO - San Francisco, KPFK - Los Angeles, as well as many other stations.

She has a BFA in Painting (Cum Laude) from Rhode Island School of Design and been awarded the Oxbow Fellowship, Talbot Rantoul Scholarship, Florence Leif Scholarship For Excellence In Painting, The Cornish Music Scholarship, "Who's Who of Asian Americans" by AsianAmerican.Net, & she co-authored an award winning "Special Projects Grant" from the King County Arts Commission.

PRESS & REVIEWS

A MAGAZINE: "Magdalen is redefining the female musician. Her blend of hard-grounded folk & sweet siren lyrics makes an enduring impression upon the American music scene. Her distinguishing factor is her cool edgy sound,
independent style and, more importantly, her courage to be sensitive, tender and feminine. As she carves her own identity as an artist in an industry where Asian women are not thought of as musical powerhouses or innovators.... she is a rare force with which to reckon..."

PERFORMING SONGWRITER:"Magdalen Hsu-Li's "Fire" is an exquisitely furious, beautiful, exciting record. From the piano driven opener "Redefinition". Hsu-Li comes out swinging. Most of the record is made up of gorgeous slow to mid-tempo songs that range from pop to jazz in their influence and tastes. "Fire" grooves, rocks, croons and howls. It cries out from past pain, yearns for future pleasure, and arraigns past wrongs. Hsu Li's elusive,
liquid melodies are well supported by her impassioned piano playing and her quick-witted, well-honed rhythm section. Her lyrics come across as honest as a diary"

THE ADVOCATE: "Singer-songwriter Magdalen Hsu-Li identifies as many things- including as a painter, musician, lecturer, activist, and Chinese-American...redefining who she is on her own terms, Fire her latest release is filled with finely crafted, melodic, piano-based songs that borrow equally from pop, folk, jazz, blues and even punk. With a Jackie Chan karate chop to the stereotype of the submissive Asian woman, Magdalen answers back in the seductive voice of a tender-hearted artist who transmits anger, beauty and hope into a fully realized album."

NEW YORK TIMES: "Magdalen Hsu-Li's "Fire" is sweet, melodic, and real...".

LA WEEKLY: "Magdalen Hsu-Li is one of the first asian artists to emerge in the United States as a star in the pop/rock/alternative genre."

CURVE MAGAZINE "Equal parts agent provocateur and artist, singer-songwriter Magdalen Hsu-Li likes to tease a response from her audience that sounds as much like a conversation as a whispered quarrel. Treading the edges of her songs is a playfulness and strength."

YOLK MAGAZINE: "Fire" is an achingly gorgeous collection of piano based rock recalling the finest moments of Tori Amos or Ben Folds Five. "Fire" showcases Hsu-Li's beautiful voice, solid songwriting, and highly personal lyrics that would make many poets jealous...This one is definitely a talent to watch." "

AMAZON.COM "Four stars...a 'breakthrough artist. Her voice is lovely and graceful. You will be rewarded every time you listen to her CD!"

GIRLFRIENDS: No woman is an island, but this stand-alone performer is making waves!"

DISH MAGAZINE: "Magdalen Hsu-Li credits much of the Fire (CHICKPOP) of her debut album to the writings of Rilke, the supreme poet of love. Her lush voice and evocative piano needle through the complexities of relationship and "Compassion" with a clear-eyed poise and assurance. Originally a visual artist, born in Virginia and migrated to the Seattle area, she has an oil-based eye for texture and brush-stroke; the beautiful title track
conveys a silken sensuality and the come-hither of an alluring flame to a moth, moving between grandeur and delicacy. Ella lament."

ROCKRGRL: ". Musically Hsu-Li withholds nothing. She shows her piano no mercy with a rare and relentless fury that earns her infinite comparisons to Tori Amos and Ani Difranco"

VOICE OF AMERICA: "I am absolutely knocked out by the music of Magdalen Hsu-Li! Her new album is full of poetic lyrics, great melodies, tight musicianship and excellent production. The opening cut "Redefinition" is
downright inspiring, as Magdalen eloquently expresses the self-analysis that we all go through at certain times in our lives. Her voice is haunting, powerful and beautiful. Grab Magdalen Hsu-Li's new CD, take a listen and
get her on the airwaves!" Hsu-Li is a performer who possesses a rare mix of creative talents.

SEATTLE WEEKLY: "Magdalen Hsu-Li isn't afraid to push buttons. She writes personal lyrics that address larger societal issues head-on."

WBAI, NYC " Blow em away Hsu-Li! Magdalen represents an emerging rebellious Asian generation. She seduces you with her voice and captures you with her words."

WXPN, PHILADELPHIA, PA: "Fire" makes for a very seductive listen. Magdalen is one to watch!"

KFAI, MINNEAPOLIS, MN: "I recently heard a song from Magdalen Hsu-Li's last recording. It was marvelous. Based on that one cut, I'd highly recommend that you request one if you're interested in original, contemporary acoustic music."

ELLEN HAYMAN, WORT, MADISON, WI: "Even better in person"

WFHB, BLOOMINGTON, IN: "I'll second Ellen Hayman's recommendation. I've played several cuts off the album on Womenspace and am looking forward to meeting Magdalen."

FEMALEMUSICIAN.COM: "Magdalen is one of the first successful acoustic/pop/folk/alternative Chinese-American singer songwriters in the U.S.A. Fire" is collective of songs with a powerful, universal message about love, multiculturalism, spirituality, relationships, awareness, and diversity".Magdelen shows off her skills in classical music, as well as flip-hop and piano-punk (secret track.) Her voice is calm, still confident, convincing, carrying deep feelings, and full of passion. On the whole, it is highly accomplished album. The single from the album "redefinition" pictures Magdalen's positive attitude - redefinition of identity - as a Chinese-American woman raised up in melting pot. She is trying to seek and be herself through her music, and the songs from "fire" reveals it."

LESBIANATION.COM: "Magdalen Hsu-li is an accomplished live performer, pianist, painter, lecturer, educator, feminist, poet, and public speaker. Her stated goal is to "connect and uplift through music art and the elements." She's right on target with her third album, "Fire."

YELLOHGIRLS.COM: "Gotta love it when an Asian American gal's not only spunky and has killer chords, but has the kind of unfaltering spirit and vision that allows her to change lives through music"

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Reviews


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Jim Curtis

intruiging
Ms. Hsu-Li: Thank You for sharing with us! Original lyrics
quite intiguing, a wide range of expression with surreal and
mystical that touches me deeply. I enjoy cerebral engagement. Your voice clarity and character reminiscent of
Joni Mitchell's first release: Song to a Seagull. From me that's a VERY HIGH compliment. The instrumental backup is excellent. If it were toned down a notch or two i think i could better hear YOUR brilliance radiate and shine. Lyrical clarity i had difficulty with, which may in part be my ears. All in all very enjoyable.

All is impermanent. All is without self.
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Brian Kimmel, pianist-singer-songwriter

...more Woman-Worldly Spirit than I've ever heard.
A synthesis of Body and Soul: Beautiful, contemporary, and glistening with more Woman-Worldly Spirit than I've ever heard.
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Shawn West

Puts my mind in relaxed place.
CD was a surprise and I got it as a suggestion, when I purchased another. It's a great mix and a perfect way to unwind at the end of a long day.
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