Age: 22 • Neighborhood: Tri-Taylor • Follow: SoundCloud
Chicago has long been home to an eclectic variety of sounds. The latest addition to our Home Team column embodies that fact. Saying she has an angelic voice sounds overreaching in the saturated landscape of singer-songwriters, but it is no hyperbole. Crystal Yi, known by many as CHAI, is a Korean-American songstress from the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Hailing from Woodridge, Illinois, she began utilizing her voice to recreationally perform on YouTube and live performances all throughout high school. In order to perfect her craft, she began attending the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011 where connections with other creatives allowed her to develop her aesthetic even further. Following an urge to create her own original records, CHAI eventually connected with the talented engineers at LPZ Studios and Classick Studios. Here, she developed relationships with a variety of personnel that have birthed classic projects over the last few years. During one of these sessions she fatefully linked with close friend Elias who she recently collaborated with to release the single "About Me" which These Days premiered last October.
As of Summer 2015, she’s been traveling back and forth from South Korea to compete in K-POP Star Season 5 where she’s consistently been placed in the top rankings. CHAI soon hopes to return to Chicago to continue developing her artistry and release a full length project. Self-described as having a voice as “smooth and soothing as Mac-N-Cheese,” her neo-soul and jazzy aesthetic make her an undeniable addition to Chicago’s current renaissance. Through these features and exposure in South Korea, she has cemented herself as an up-and-coming artist who will have much to offer for the years to come. Peep her essential listens and catch her online on K-POP Star Season 5.
Words by Jonathan Caliso