This article is adapted from AQ’s print issue on China and Latin America. To see the rest of our list, click here. | Leer en español
Daniela Rojas, 29, became fascinated by Asia from a young age. Although she had never visited the continent, she studied Chinese and in 2008 decided to go to college in Beijing to study business and economics. “I wanted to see how far I could go on my own,” Rojas told AQ.
Raised in Bogotá, Rojas loved to sing and in her first year in China she joined a band with members from all continents. The group became increasingly popular during the Beijing Summer Olympics, and after that experience Rojas decided to create and manage her own band, performing solo in Chinese, Spanish and English. “If the client asked for Chinese music I would call a Chinese keyboard player,” Rojas told AQ. “If they asked for jazz the really good ones were the Cubans or the Russians.” In 2013 Rojas was invited to take part in a Chinese new year gala performance contest — and to her own surprise, won first place. Singing in Mandarin, she was then featured as the solo performer at the event, which has the largest audience of any entertainment show in the world, reaching 750 million viewers that year. “It was spectacular” Rojas said.
After graduating from university in Beijing and with her singing career taking off, Rojas decided to stay in China, witnessing the fast changes happening in the country during her 10-year stay. “When I arrived, there was a paradox between Chinese traditions and a willingness to learn from the Western world, but I think now China has learned everything it wanted to,” Rojas told AQ. “They have gained confidence that they can do things better than foreigners and started to have a feeling of nationalism that wasn’t there at the beginning.” Rojas decided to formally study music and moved to California in 2018. “I want to get the best from Colombian, Chinese, and from what I learn here,” Rojas told AQ. “I hope to go back to China and make music in Chinese, with a Latin American influence.”
Uriegas is an editorial intern at AQ
Tags: AQ Top 5, China-Latin America 2.0