How I Became a Singer-Songwriter: 3 Artists That Inspired Me

Hi Everyone,

I'm Amanda Yang. I currently live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thank you for taking the time to read about my journey. I plan to document more of my journey and use this platform to battle my imposter syndrome, that I am indeed a singer-songwriter. I hope this helps anyone that experiences self-doubt. Too often we discredit ourselves but truth is, we've done a hell of a job to get here.

I like to call myself a DIY artist and musician. My first guitar was gifted to me at age 14 from my dad. It was originally a gift from his ex girlfriend to him, but after their break-up he didn't want it anymore. (Yay for me!) I used YouTube tutorials to teach myself how to play guitar. Then I taught myself to write songs by replicating what I liked on the internet and radio.

I want to share 3 of the many artists that have inspired my journey as a singer-songwriter.

Shania Twain Up! Album art cover.

1. Shania Twain

Is this a surprise to you? I’m not a die hard country music fan, but growing up my mom had the red version of her album Up! I remember mom playing this album on repeat while riding in her blue Toyota Rav 4 on the way to grade school. I was about 7 years old then.

My favorite songs from this record are,

"Ka Ching" and "She’s More Than Just a Pretty Face". These songs empowered me. Each song would play and I’d find myself teleporting to another space in time where each line was being performed. I imagined cash falling from the sky and piling at my feet. Registers were opening while my 7 year old self held a credit card and swiped her way through stores. At only 7 years old, I felt like I ruled the world. It was an experience. That’s when I realized the T.V. inside my head creates intense visual imagery and I LOVE music that stimulates it.

Jason Mraz Lyric Live High Quote See that girl as her own new world

2. Jason Mraz

In 8th grade I performed "I’m Yours" at my middle school talent show. From there, I continued to indulge in Mraz’s music. He is also a vivid storyteller. I’m starting to see some trends in my music taste. I became obsessed with 3 songs from the album, "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things". These songs were: "I’m Yours", "Live High" and "A Beautiful Mess". Every song had a life lesson and it’s hard to stay in a bad mood while listening. This is when I discovered that music can be medicine for the soul.

During my adolescent years Mraz taught me to embrace the difficult, ugly and sad parts of life and how to find the silver lining. I didn’t have the best mental health as a kid, so I leaned heavily toward music as my outlet, emotional support and friend. I always wondered, “How could this person’s 3 minute song make such a HUGE impact in my life?” Mraz does this beautiful thing where he creates good music. Good, uplifting and transformative songs. His music made me feel seen, heard and less alone. I remember thinking, “I want to do that.”

3. Bruno Mars

The first time I heard his voice was on B.O.B.'s ‘Nothin On You’ single. It wasn’t until I was 13 years old that I really started connecting with Mars’ artistry. Billionaire was climbing the Billboard charts and dominating radio stations. For the first time, I started dreaming bigger. It’s like this song gave me permission to start dreaming larger than just getting married and having a family. ("Go you!" If this is your dream. I just didn’t know I could want something else). Keep in mind, I am a first generation Hmong-American from a mother and father raised through torn countries at war. Growing up it seemed as though pursuing a career in music was like a sin. How could I waste this American dream that was gifted to me?

Travie McCoy rapped about all the things he wanted in detail while Mars reinforced the goal with the phrase “I wanna be a billionaire so f**king bad, buy all of the things I never had.” Me too man… me too. I covered Mars’ "Marry You" on YouTube in 2011 and when things got started for me on the internet. :)

Years later, I’m still captivated by Mars’ work. His ability to tell a story through his melodies is mind-blowing. It is true artistry. What continues to inspire me about Mars isn’t just his music, but it’s the grit and passion he embodies which led him to success. He put action behind his talent and this is one of the main artists that inspires me to continue chasing my goals.