Dutch singer Laura Fygi performs at the recent JZ Festival Xiamen in Fujian province.
Laura Fygi is no stranger to China. The Dutch singer cannot remember how many times she has performed concerts, galas and at private events here over the past 18 years.
She was one of the main artists singing earlier this month at the JZ Festival Xiamen, East China's Fujian province, accompanied by the 18-piece big band of the JZ Club Shanghai.
The jazz singer, known for her husky voice, beautiful diction and great ability to tell stories with her songs, is a much loved musician in China, says Voision Xi, spokesperson of JZ Music, the organizer of the JZ Festival in Shanghai, Beijing, and four other cities of China.
Her music is popular with audiences, and of high artistic quality, says Xi, adding that "Chinese audiences first fell in love with her after listening to CDs. And they loved her even more after seeing her live."
Fygi also enjoys working with jazz musicians in China and adding Chinese elements to her music, says Xi, explaining the musician's success in China.
In 2012, Fygi released an album in China called Flower. It contains original Chinese compositions that she arranged in her style. Some songs were translated into English and French, but she also sang four songs in Chinese.
Fygi was born in 1955, and celebrated her 25th anniversary as a solo artist last year. Her latest studio album Jazz Love, produced by Universal Music Singapore, came out in October. It will be released in the mainland early next year, according to the company's China office.
The album comprises a selection of hit songs from the past decade. It has been recorded and mixed by Hans Van Vondelen in the Netherlands and is produced by Jan Menu. "When preparing for this album, I was glad to find that they still write beautiful songs today just as they did back in the 1960s. The songs have been arranged in my style, so you can expect some bossa, slow waltz, swing, totally Laura Fygi," says the singer. "I selected a variety of new and old songs, ranging from The Beatles to Alicia Keys, and I'm very happy with my choices."
The singer is impressed by Chinese audiences' familiarity with not only its own jazz hits, but also Western ballads and romantic songs.
In contrast, the Western world hardly knows anything about Asian music. This is obviously a problem for musicians, she says, adding that the internet has not provided a solution for this, but on the contrary, "killed" the music industry.
"Nowadays you make an album like a business card," she says.
"You just give it away to let people know about it."
When she is not on tour, Fygi lives in a quiet village surrounded by woods some 40 minutes by road from Amsterdam, where she tends her huge garden, and makes sure her three children are well taken care of.
Earlier this year, the Chinese teacher of her eldest son helped to translate her official website into Chinese. She is also working with Universal Music China to launch her own Weibo and Youku accounts.
Her social network is managed by a professional team, but when people post comments and ask questions, "I answer them," she says. "I keep in touch with my fans."
Fygi was born to a Dutch businessman and an Egyptian dancer.
She never studied music and has learned everything she knows by herself.
Her career started in the early 1980s, when she was in a girl's band called Centerfold. Since then she has won numerous gold and platinum discs and awards.
In 2009, she played the lead role in the musical Victor/Victoria in Singapore.
JZ Music held its first jazz festival in Shanghai 12 years ago.
In the past few years the company has expanded the JZ festival to Beijing, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Dalian, Xiamen and Xi'an.
It also runs the JZ Club, a live house dedicated to jazz, in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Guangzhou.