Rei – Time Traveler
The preternaturally talented singer-songwriter and musician known as Rei has been entertaining audiences composed of friends, families, and even advertising clients for years. However, it’s only in the latest chapter of her life that the Taiwanese-born artist has decided to commit to having the rest of the world hear her music through the release of her first album.
Scheduled for release on February 3, 2021, the album entitled “Time Traveler.” comprises nine songs that reflect Rei’s empathetic, creative spirit, and multicultural background. While the music is decidedly pop, her songs range from 1920’s vintage Jazz to modern country pop, from cutting edge Techno to fusion Latin music and the hottest Reggaeton, throughout different genres as a time-traveling experience. Multiple Grammy award-winner James Hoover, who has worked with Beyoncé, ZZ Top, Chamillionaire, and South Park Mexican, is producing the LP. Her voice, which has been described as soothing (even therapeutic), seamlessly adapts to the various genres and her lyrics are multi-lingual (English, Mandarin, and Spanish). ( Reference songs “Teacher Said,” “Sick of Your Love”)
“My songs reflect the idea that while we’re all isolated to varying degrees both as individuals and groups, we’re all equal in our ability to appreciate music. I write songs with themes across different generations, genres, ethnicities, gender preferences, and social consciousness, from equality to the environmental crisis. I sing for the sad, the lonely, and the heartbroken, so they know they’re not forgotten,” she says.
The story of Rei – whose name roughly translates into “positive healing energy” – begins in Taipei, where she was born. As a young child, she was instantly drawn to music. “My mother said that I particularly gravitated toward jazz music. If I was a cranky baby, all she has to do was turn on a jazz radio station, and I was all smiles and giggles,” she says.
Like many musicians, she cultivated her early musical roots at her church, fondly remembering the days when she was a choir member. Even then, early “reviews” by congregants encouraged her to pursue an artistic life. However, she decided a business career might be more practical on the way to becoming an adult.
Not surprisingly, given her artistic nature, the career she decided to pursue was in advertising. She rose quickly through the ranks of a leading ad agency in Taipei to become its creative director while still in her 20s. Tasked with devising local TV and radio campaigns for international brands, she often found herself in a recording studio, supervising the music for clients’ commercials. “I’ve always had a knack for improvising music, so writing advertising jingles came easy to me,” she recalls.
One day when the studio found itself in desperate need of a jingle for Kleenex brand tissues, Rei volunteered to write it on the spot. The client approved her jingle, and soon it was heard all over Taiwan. A local record label took notice and signed her to a recording contract. She spent the next three months writing songs and was in the studio about to begin recording when love got in the way.
“I met this handsome TV commercial producer from Los Angeles who was in the studio recording a Coca Cola commercial for Taiwanese television. It was love at first sight. In two weeks, we were married, and soon I found myself traveling back to his home in Los Angeles,” she says.
While her arrival in L.A. in 1997 marked her first-ever visit in the U.S., she found it easy to fit into the city’s culturally and ethnically diverse population. Her career in advertising continued without barely a blink. She was quickly hired to be the creative director of an agency specializing in marketing to a large and established community of Chinese speaking-residents in Southern California.
One of her agency’s clients was a bank, and the more she learned about the arcane finances of home mortgages, the more she was intrigued. Having achieved a successful career in advertising, she was poised to explore new opportunities, and in particular, the business of providing homes to people intrigued her.
“As an immigrant myself, I instantly understood what buying a home means to the immigrant community. They sacrifice to move here to start a family and provide their children with the best education and career opportunities. They see America as their home, so they want to buy a home to make it permanent,” she says.
She was hired by her former bank client and began to learn the ropes as a mortgage broker. She found that recent immigrants often have a hard time securing a mortgage for a variety of reasons but notably because of language barriers and a lack of banking history. So, she made finding home loans to recent immigrants her specialty and was wildly successful. In a few years, she began her firm, eventually moving it to Houston.
Today, left-brain Rei is an experienced mortgage broker whose company, Miles Lending, has offices nationwide. She has built her business to the point where she no longer has to oversee day-to-day operations. So, the right-brain Rei is now taking charge of her life! (By the way, her company’s name is a tribute to her first musical influence – jazz impresario Miles Davis.)
Always ambitious, Rei is not only finishing up her first album but is planning to launch a jazz festival in her now adopted hometown of Houston. In the meantime, she’s also begun performing professionally in clubs as the Midtown Jazz Band leader, a nod to the community where she lives.
No matter what form her music takes – advertising, songs, live performances – there’s a common theme of diversity and inclusion. “This is what I’ve learned about becoming an American. We’re a nation of immigrants with lots of different backgrounds, and too often, that causes conflict. But music makes us whole. It doesn’t matter what your color, your religion, or your country of origin might be. Music is our great equalizer and unifier. That’s what I’m hoping listeners will take away from my first album,” she says.