Serenade sesh.


If you asked me to describe myself in one word, I’d vacillate between choosing empathetic and passionate.

Passionate usually wins.

Remember this for the remainder of the post.


Remember that whole bit about how I absolutely am in love with Valentine’s Day? Let me just tell you that February 14th, 2015 is leaving the rest of them in the dust.

After a nearly perfect day – damn you, freezing temperatures & evil hangover – with the two best valentines a girl could ask for, I wrapped up the most romantic day of the year being serenaded-ish (read, essentially… since the room was full of people & two couples) by two INSANELY talented men.

In an underground coffeehouse. Underneath a chapel. On Columbia’s campus. Columbia University.

Picture this: one light stage, tea bags in mason jars, a cajon*, an acoustic guitar, and one damn good voice.



Jae – accompanied by Noah* – spent 45 minutes this evening performing a series of covers & Jae Jin originals. I am beyond thrilled I got a chance to listen in person before they’re released! There was even an Elvis cover. (Read: I LOVE ELVIS.)

If there was any part of me that could have imagined how Valentine’s Day night could have turned out – my imagination was upstaged. Big time.

*Tonight, Noah Hyams was performing with Jae on the cajon. Literally on it – as in he was sitting on this box and making rhythmic magic. Before tonight, I literally had no clue what a cajon drum is … and now I am secretly hoping Hils is intrigued enough to buy one and we can learn how to thump away. Does everyone know what this super cool instrument is? Have I been living under a rock? Am I no longer worthy of your time?


This past summer, I met Jae in Cape Cod when he performed at my cousin’s wedding. Blown away. I wish I could give you more, but that’s all I can really remember – the rest has since, been history.

I could honestly gush about Jae’s talent for days. Take an impeccable voice paired with gut wrenching passion, and you have Jae. His talent stops not at his voice, but continues in his lyrical genius. The man can write!

As a writer (or, a girl who likes to write, your opinion is your own), I tend to gravitate towards songs that, when you truly listen, gets under your skin. So naturally, when it comes to music, ballads are my favorite. Ballads are honest – in order to give it the light it deserves, the performer has to dig deep so the corresponding emotions (about pain, heartbreak, love, whatever) comes through. In order for the ballad to sound honest, the passion has to be there.

Serenade_4If you are lucky enough to spend a few minutes with him, I promise you’ll walk away with true, true respect for this man. During the wedding back in August, I remember Jae going to bed late/ waking up early/ not sleeping at all, because he was sitting on the beach… thinking. Thinking and writing. He gives himself space in order let ideas blossom. Because of this, when you hear him sing his original pieces, your heart truly breaks.

Not necessarily because they’re painful or the subject is sad – your heart breaks at the beauty of it. There is no doubt his passion tenderly cultivated.

Oh, and he’s fucking phenomenal at the whole ballad thing, too. (Is this all coming full circle yet, or am I too tired to weave these thoughts together properly?)


See him THIS Wednesday, February 18th at Toshi’s – I’ll be sitting in the audience somewhere. If you spot a little redhead, please come say hi!

UNTIL THEN, please get familiar:

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