50 American Kids Singing Chinese Song ‘I’ll Bring You Home’

Chinese immersion camp at at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Summer 2012.

Hi! My name is Liam Frost (傅雷) and I’m one half of the Fu Brothers (傅兄弟). My older brother, Connor (傅康) is the other half. This music video is of our original song…

“带你回来” (“I’ll Bring You Home”)

So this video all started with me working at a Chinese language immersion camp at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania as a counselor this summer. All of the kids were under a language pledge (no English!), which forced them to use Mandarin Chinese to communicate. The kids got frustrated a lot, as many of them had little to no background studying Chinese. So we basically babysat them— comforted them, taught them, and kept them motivated to learn this stupidly difficult language. I first began studying Chinese around the same age as many of these kids, and one of my main inspirations for learning Chinese was music.

My mother is from Taiwan and she came to America at a young age to pursue music. Here, she met my father at a conservatory and they got married and had us. My brother and I have been lucky enough to inherit some of their musical talent, and personally, I feel extremely fortunate to be a halfie (混血儿) as well.

When we were young, we weren’t exposed to Chinese or Taiwanese culture much, except when my grandma came and taught us piano, yelling and trying to beat us when we misbehaved (love you, apo!). Our mom didn’t talk to us in Chinese growing up because she wanted us to “fit in”. Even so, I’ve never quite fit into any one group. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve always had a diverse circle of friends, but depending who I’m with, I’ve always been seen as “the Asian” or “the white kid” growing up.

Must be tough, right?

Honestly, I’m cool with it. I identify with both cultures— I can tell my Taiwanese friends about a typical Saturday night at an American college, the dating scene in America and the Western music I’m into. Similarly, I can tell my American friends stories about 二锅头 (crazy hard liquor) in Beijing, night markets in Taipei, and eating unbelievably fresh tuna sashimi in Dong Gang. Moreover, I can make music in multiple languages and share the thing I love most with the vast majority of the world!

My brother and I love our mom’s culture, and I’ll never forget our first trip to Taiwan when both of us decided we would learn Chinese one day. We did, and he’s now a Chinese and music teacher while I’m a Chinese major and Digital Arts minor at Hamilton College.

I still remember how cool we thought Chinese music was when we first heard it. Weirdly enough, we were really into Taiwanese rap, especially Machi (麻吉). We also liked Mayday (五月天) and of course, Jay Chou (周杰倫). I was ten and my brother was twelve or thirteen. Music was a large part of our love for Taiwan, and definitely one of the reasons for us to learn Chinese.

This summer, we started making music as the “Fu Brothers”, a way for us to combine our talents, make music together and share it with the world through YouTube and Youku.

This particular music video above happened after I wrote the song with Terry Hsieh, a trombonist and recent Oberlin grad who often takes his Jazz sextet, the Terry Hsieh Collective, to play, teach and perform in Beijing and Shanghai. He’s the one with the crew cut by the way, while I’m the guy playing the guitar and my brother Connor is on the trumpet.

Terry was a fellow counselor at the camp, and we decided to write a song for the kids to sing to get them pumped about learning Chinese, just like my brother and I had been many years ago. Something Terry pointed out which I found to be very true was that kids might forget a lot of their camp experience as they get older, but what they do remember is the songs they sang. So we were jamming one day: I was playing the guitar and he was messing with a conga drum. He dug the chords I was messing around with and BAM! we wrote this song from there in a couple of hours.

Terry Hsieh and Liam Frost with 'zhong wen' on their t-shirts.

We taught the song to the kids and they seemed to really love it so we sang it with them every day. Most of my nightly living group meetings turned into passionate jam sessions, the kids belting out the words, oftentimes out of tune— but they didn’t care because they were singing it together. I could tell the music really brought us closer to each other. The power of music in bringing people together, especially kids, really amazes me sometimes.

I love recording music and making videos so I decided to make a legit music video. To record the kids, I set up a microphone, played guitar to a click and also had some of them record individual tracks to pan out and give it that real chorus effect. I knew the end needed a little somethin’ to make it super epic so my brother came up with the horn part. To give it that modern sound, I also added drums, bass, and some synths.

I hope you enjoyed our song and our music video. Please comment and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from halfies and ABCs alike, what your experience is with being biracial, and if it is similar or different from me! Thanks for reading!

Chinese immersion camp at at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Summer 2012.

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  • JC

    typical dumb ass americans.

    most chinese-born americans can’t even speak any chinese; pathetic

    • Lauren

      Show some respect. It’s only your assumption that most Chinese-born Americans can’t speak Chinese. It’s really a person’s own responsibility to learn and it’s admirable that these guys are dedicated to learning Chinese. Don’t to be rude towards those who commit themselves to appreciating and learning about their cultural heritage.

      • JC

        My assumption is right. I have met many American-born Chinese in the U.S., Europe and out in Asia, and 99% can only speak English.
        And you talk about “appreciating and learning about their cultural heritage”?
        Are you fucking kidding me, woman? If they cared one bit about their “cultural heritage”, they would have learnt how to speak Chinese growing up, along with their native English. Most Chinese people who move to places like the U.S. and Canada are so pathetic; they have this “Yeah, I’m in America now, no need to speak Chinese” attitude.

        I would hardly call those so-called Chinese-Americans “Chinese people” at all; they are simply your typical dumb American.

        • CU

          Excuse me but watch your hostile language. This conversation does not require any rude or disrepectful language like that. Of course, everyone is entitlted to their own opinions. It may just be that the American-born Chinese you have met in your life are only able to speak English. However, based on my experiences, there are many ABC’s who aren’t taught Chinese growing up because of the way their parents chose to raise them. If that is the case, it is up to the child/individual to make the effort to learn about their cultural heritage.

          I am an American born Chinese. My parents didn’t want to pay for Chinese classes because we could not afford them. (Yes, we are poor.) During my final year in college, after I finished my other studies, I found the opportunity to learn Chinese Mandarin and I made sure I studied it to my best ability. I am an ABC that did not have to opportunity to learn Chinese, but I still made an effort to seize the chance to learn it.

          Learn to respect people. Everyone has their own situations and reasons for certain outcomes. I understand what you mean by those Chinese who have the I’m-an-American-and-don’t-need-to-speak-Chinese attitude, but that does not mean you bash on everyone else, especially these talented young men who worked hard to make and share their music and passion with the world.

          • JC

            “I am an American born Chinese. My parents didn’t want to pay for Chinese classes because we could not afford them”

            First off, stop with the lame excuses. And second, you are not Chinese. REAL Chinese people shouldn’t have to pay money to learn their own language; they are taught it as they are growing up. And I don’t see why your parents didn’t teach you. Your parents can’t speak Chinese either then?

            “I am an ABC that did not have to opportunity to learn Chinese”
            Like I said before; if you are real Chinese, you wouldn’t have to pay money to learn your own language, now would you?

            You so-called “Chinese-Americans” need to look at the British-born Chinese; they set a good example.
            All the BBC’s that I have met here in Asia and Europe can speak perfect English, and almost fluent Cantonese or Mandarin.
            The BBC’s are real Chinese people, not those sad Americans that come back to Asia every summer pretending to be “Chinese”. You know how lame it is to see a Chinese-American speaking English to their relatives back in Asia?
            You are not Chinese.

            Jusr my 2 cents.

        • mr. wiener

          Seems some one has a problem with Americans. Is it because you think they’re stupid? Or that you think they are rude and arrogant? Because the only one exhibiting those traits at present is… well it’s you.
          Would you humor me by telling us your background?

          • JC

            Believe me, I’m not the only one.
            I’m just pointing out facts.
            “humor”? Where do you learn your English? It’s spelt “Humour”, with a “u” in it. Are you too lazy to add a “u”? Learn how to spell right, then get back to me.

          • mr. wiener

            I believe someone said if the other party in an internet argument invokes spelling or punctuation in an argument it is an automatic loss. [ad hominem arguments]
            Your use of the “U” in humor clearly tells us which side of the Atlantic you hail from. I myself am Australian , but have adopted many American spellings in my long career as a teacher [now thankfully over] ,but refuse to say the word “Tomato” with a capital “A” sound.
            Speaking of tomatoes I’ll have to ketchup with you later when you have improved your logic. As your style at the moment is very weak sauce indeed.

      • JC

        “Show some respect”?

        Respect is earned, not given.

        • mr. wiener

          So you think acting like an ass will earn you respect?
          Works well behind the keyboard, not so well in real life, be careful the two worlds don’t merge.

          • Terrik

            Don’t feed the trolls. It only makes them hungrier.

    • Terry Hsieh

      Most netizens can’t figure out how to be civil on the internet, either; equally pathetic (author of this song)

    • Web of Lies

      Get mad much? I can imagine all your adolescence pimples on your face popping from your pure rage and intensity.

    • Barack Obama

      I agree with you JC. Most Chinese-born Americans have this despicable attitude of “OH LOOK AT ME I’M BORN IN AMERICA! LOOK HOW WHITE I AM WEEEE!!!” They have this superiority complex I can’t stand. I think it’s important to understand your roots and remember where you came from.

      • mr. wiener

        And your roots good sir are…..?

      • yangGUIzi

        this kinda shows how little you actually know about american life. most families heavily identify with the ancestral heritage of their family, as almost no american is actually from north america. this heritage dictates language, mores, folkways, diet, and holidays of said heritage. so they pry grew up chinese and realized how much bulls**t it is at a fairly young age, and then rejected it. just like most chinese would if someone bought them a ticket and a green card.

    • yangGUIzi

      cough cough, ambassador, cough, cough, suck a dick

    • Dan

      Seriously, coming from an American, YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE, have a nice day ;-).

  • Claus

    Nice song.

    • Liam

      Thanks! :)

  • thdwlsdn

    Liam, do you have a link to this video that I can share with friends in China?

  • CU

    Amazing job. Keep up the good work!

    • Liam

      Thank you! Appreciate it!

  • Connor

    New fu bros video up! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q5-5NbfYeo check it, people! Thanks for the support!

  • Terry

    You know what’s funny? His assumption is “right” based on a 5th grader’s generalization. I guarantee most of those kids have better language skills than you, jc. Don’t really understand what yor beef with this video is, because it’s about language and learning. Liam and I wrote this song as a way of helping kids learn Chinese and appreciate the language in a new way. Id like to see you try your hand at being anything but a bigot with skewed statistics: actually, chinese Americans retain language ar rates only second to Hispanic latin@s in this country. Most of us don’t live in a suburban upper class neighborhood like you. Terry

    • JC

      Liam and Terry? What kind of Chinese name is that? Where are you from, anyway? Are you American?

      Better language skills than me? That’s funny.
      I can speak 3 Chinese dialects, and also English.
      How many dialects can these lame Americans speak?
      Get them to learn some Cantonese and Mandarin, then get back to me.

      • mr. wiener

        “I can speak 3 Chinese dialects, and also English.”
        Unfortunately he is unable to be polite in any of them.

        • JC

          Who needs to be polite? Is that a rule everyone must follow?

          • mr. wiener

            tsk, like explaining color to a blind man.
            Let me spell it out for you:
            This is a nice story, kinda uplifting ,a bit sweet …..then you come on like Jack the Bear, “Americans are this….ABC’s are that..”
            and you’re a little surprised when people think you are being a dick?
            I don’t care what the cultural differences between BBC’s and ABC’s are. Taking the spiked boot to this lot is about as fair as Newfoundlanders vs baby harp seals, and about as unnecessary. At least they are making an effort to learn the language of their forbears, which you are taking for granted just because your parents had enough forsight to teach it to you at an early age.
            I applaud their efforts [your parents] ,but I don’t think they’d be too please if they saw how rude you are being.

      • Terry Hsieh

        JC, my Chinese name is “谢燕辉“. Since we’re correcting each other’s English, I would point out that you are supposed to write out the number “three” when using cardinals, especially when discussing quantity. So that’s “I can speak three dialects of Chinese, AS WELL as English (and also is a double-stacked conjunction– also very rudimentary, and elementary).

  • mr. wiener

    Thank you moderators…
    …. and in case I didn’t mention it before big props to Liam and Terry and Connor.
    You guys rock.

    • Terry Hsieh

      Thanks man! I’m really happy that you guys enjoyed the tune. As for JC. I can take him in Chinese any day: bring it, JC! Let’s see your music!

      • yangGUIzi

        yeah i showed this to my students, they were really inspired. one of the girls said she will try to write a song in english. good job yo

  • selang

    i fear for the future

  • slob

    That was possibly the gayest (in both the joyous and detrimental sense) thing that I have ever seen.

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