1994年艾敬出版了第二张专辑《艳粉街的故事》，专辑请到了台湾著名音乐人陈升制作歌曲《艳粉街的故事》、《外婆这样的女人》，更从澳洲请到国际知名乐队INXS的鼓手Jon Farris制作了《情陷89》、《三套车》、《Love In My Dream》等三首歌曲。在这张专辑中，艾敬创作了大部分词曲，并首度参与制作人工作，专辑同样在全亚洲取得了成功。1995年4月，艾敬在东京成功举办了两场个人演唱会。
1996年，艾敬签约日本SONY唱片公司，第三张专辑《追月》由日本著名制作人佐藤刚和她联合制作，艾敬创作了专辑中几乎所有的歌曲。在日发展期间，艾敬开始了与日本的音乐人全面合作，特别是应邀参与世界著名指挥家小泽征尔的《地球交响曲》演出，让艾敬在日本的音乐发展达到一个高峰。此外，她还在日本参加了无数的音乐节，与来自世界各地的流行音乐家同台演出，其中便包括了与“中国摇滚教父”崔健和日本著名乐队THE BOOM 一起在东京的武道馆等地成功举办的“95亚洲音乐节”，之后艾敬又陆续在东京、大阪、名古屋等日本重要城市举办了个人演唱会。
1997年，艾敬来到美国学习、观摩音乐和艺术，为她的下一张专辑寻找灵感。她的第四张专辑《Made In China》大部分在美国写成。在纽约艾敬开始欣赏到很多不同的艺术，从百老汇到地下乐队，从美术馆到街头艺术。在一个混合着全世界多种民族多种文化的纽约，艾敬欣喜地找到了自己作为一个中国人的骄傲和认同感。
1998年4月，艾敬在洛杉矶CBS 录音棚完成了专辑《Made In China》的录制。该专辑由艾敬和台湾“民谣教父”李寿全联合制作。这张专辑全部邀请美国知名乐手，这些乐手都曾参与过很多知名流行音乐家的专辑录制和巡回演唱会。1998年底，艾敬的第四张专辑《Made In China》在日本及亚洲个别地区发行，令她感到最大的遗憾是《Made In China 》这张专辑始终没有在国内正式发行。1999年6月，她与日本SONY唱片公司的合约期满。恢复了自由身的艾敬解除了自己身边所有工作的关系，多年的音乐生活，让她感到自己并没有真正的成长，她开始寻找另一种生活，踏上了一个人的旅途。
2004年9月，艾敬出版了第一本集散文、诗歌、绘画、写真为一体的作品集《艾在旅途》，首次曝光了大批珍贵的资料照片及不为人知的幕后故事，更邀请纽约摄影师Alex CAO为她拍摄了大量时尚前卫的照片，完整地记录了她在纽约的生活。同时2006年9月，她的首张个人音乐作品精选集《艾在旅途•艾敬首张音乐创作精选集》出版，整张专辑的作品来自于艾敬出道十余年的五张原创专辑。 3．近况
艾敬工作室 2007/5/8 Brief Introduction of Ai Jing
1. The past
Ai Jing was born on Yanfen Street in Shenyang. Her father loved traditional Chinese folk music, excelled at playing all types of folk musical instruments, and was her first music teacher. Her mother was a traditional opera performer, and influenced Ai Jing from an early age to have a special love for singing. When she was still a little girl, Ai Jing became the lead singer for the Youth Choir of Shenyang TV. After graduation from junior high school, she enrolled in the music department of the Shenyang School of Arts. At the age of 16, Ai Jing was already on the stage, performing around the country with the Shenyang Song and Dance Troupe.
In 1987, Ai Jing left Shenyang, her home town, for Beijing, and passed the entrance examination to become a student in the Beijing Oriental Song and Dance Troupe. During the training period, she recorded her album “Great Trend,” which broke records by selling more than 6 million cassettes that year. The album included her song “Ah Shenyang, My Hometown,” which became popular all over the country. But she was not ready to become a celebrity then. Her biggest dream at that time was to record an album of her own with each song tailor-made for herself. With that bold dream, Ai Jing left Beijing for the more open environment of Guangzhou, starting her life as a drifter.
Between 1989 and 1990 in Guangzhou, Ai Jing recorded a great many Hong Kong and Taiwan songs, which gave her a solid foundation and good experience for producing her own albums down the road. Also, because “she looks like Momoe Yamaguchi, and smiles like Kurihara Komaki,” she was selected as an actress to play in the TV soap opera “Addicted to Love.” She fell in love with acting and returned to Beijing, where she entered the acting department in the Central Academy of Drama, receiving her college diploma in acting. In the years after she graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, Ai Jing played in three films successively: “Five Girls and a Rope,” directed by Ye Hongwei in 1990; “From the Queen to the Chief Executive,” by Hong Kong director Herman Yau in 1999; and “Black and White,” directed by young Li Hong from Mainland China in 2001. All three films won prizes in international film festivals.
2. Production of Music CDs
In 1990, Ai Jing began working on her first solo album, “My 1997.” The album was produced by Dadi Records, an independent label created by Gene Lau, a well-known Hong Kong lyricist. Virtually all of the top names in the music business in China at the time were invited to play music or work on the production of the album, including Huang Xiaomao, Wang Di, Zhang Tianshuo, Liu Xiaosong, San Er, Wang Yong, He Yong, Chen Jin and San Bao. The MV “Vagabond Swallow,” directed by Gu Changwei, and the MV “My 1997,” directed by Zhang Yuan, became big hits after their release, receiving much praise. The two videos became exemplary MV works in Chinese music circles at the time. In 1992, her first solo album, “My 1997,” was released. It took three years to finish, from planning to completion.
“My 1997” was warmly received not only in China, but was also loved throughout Southeast Asia and Japan. It was especially hot in Japan, where more than 30,000 CDs sold immediately, despite there being no advance promotion. “My 1997” quickly became popular all over China, selling more than one million copies. It became a folk rock classic in China, and also made Ai Jing the leader of the folk rock movement. At that time, the music world was dominated by Hong Kong and Taiwan songs in turn adapted from Japanese and Western songs, and thus Ai Jing’s success was something of a miracle. Soon, Ai Jing was a big hit in Japan, and when the famous Japanese folk singer Tokiko Kato sang “My 1997” in Japanese, it ended the one way trend of Japanese songs being sung in China’s music circles.
In 1994, Ai Jing''''''''s second album, “Once Upon a Time on Yanfen Street,” was released. She invited Taiwan music artist Bobby Chen to be the producer for two of the songs on the album, “Once Upon a Time on Yanfen Street” and “My Grandma." She also invited Jon Farris, the drummer of the world renowned Australian band INXS, to produce three of the songs on the album:“Fall in 89,”"Three Carriages," and "Love In My Dream." In this album, Ai Jing composed most of the music and lyrics herself, and for the first time she acted as the producer. This album was a big success all over Asia. In April 1995, Ai Jing held two successful concerts in Tokyo.
One year later, Ai Jing signed a contract with Sony Music, and “Chasing the Moon,” her third album, was produced in cooperation with famed Japanese producer Beatnik, with Ai Jing composing most of the songs on the album. During her stay in Japan, she started to work with leading Japanese artists. She was invited to join a group of well-known international performers to sing a song for “Symphony of the Earth” conducted by the world famous Seiji Ozawa, which gave her music a huge boost in Japan. She also took part in many music festivals in Japan, and performed together with many pop musicians from all over the world. This included the successful “95 Asian Music Festival” in Tokyo''''''''s Budokan, in which she appeared together with Cui Jian, the grandfather of rock ''''''''n'''''''' roll in China, and the famous Japanese band The Boom. Later, she held concerts in major Japanese cities, such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.
In 1997, Ai Jing went to the United States to experience the local music and arts scene and search for inspiration for her next album. Most of her fourth album, titled “Made in China,” was completed in America. In New York, Ai Jing enjoyed many different kinds of art, from Broadway plays to underground bands, and from art museums to street art. In New York, a city with a mélange of cultures from all over the world, Ai Jing delightedly found her pride and identity as a Chinese.
In April, 1998, Ai Jing completed the recording of her album “Made in China ” in a CBS recording studio in Los Angeles. This album was co-produced by Ai Jing and Lee Shouquan, the father of folk music in Taiwan. Many famous American musicians--who had played backup for recordings and concerts of many other leading artists--were invited to play for this album. At the end of 1998, “Made in China” was released in Japan and other counties in Asia. Her biggest regret is that “Made in China” was never released in China. In June 1999, after the expiration of her contract with Sony Music, Ai Jing was free again and she terminated all her working relations. Many years working in the music industry left her with the feeling that she had not really grown as a person, and she began to search for another way of life, setting off on her own personal journey.
From 2000 to 2001, Ai Jing began to study painting with artist Zhang Xiaogang. She immersed herself in the delight and freedom of painting. She described herself in those days as a grain of sand settled on the bottom of the sea, quiet and delicate. She started to wonder what her purpose in life was. Ai Jing gradually found her musical creativity again, and her new works were more artistic and idealistic.
Ai Jing established her own studio in June, 2002. In July, she went to Britain to record a new album. In September 2003, her fifth album, “Is It a Dream,” was released in Mainland China. The focus of this album was the future of the environment. “Is It a Dream” topped the “Weekly Music CD Sales Countdown” on the China Culture Express Program of CCTV-3 for ten weeks running. In addition, in cooperation with Taiwan musician San Bao, Ai Jing did a 24 minute, avant-garde green cartoon titled “Panda Angel.”
In September 2004, “Ai On The Road,” the first collection of Ai Jing’s works, including prose, poems and paintings, was published with a large number of photographs and background stories never seen before by the public. She invited New York photographer Alex Cao to take a large number of artistic and avant-garde photographs of her, completely recording her life in New York. In September, 2006, the first collection of her works, “Ai On The Road-The Very Best of Ai Jing,” was released. All the songs in the collection came from the 15 albums she recorded during her more than ten years as an artist.
3. Recent Situation
Ai Jing settled in New York in 2005. She likes to visit the local galleries and art museums to enjoy art, but focuses her energy on painting and cooking. Several galleries and curators have expressed an interest in exhibiting her art, but Ai Jing would like to first learn more about painting and accumulate more experience.
Ten years have passed in a flash. Ai Jing and her music have traversed glory, hardship and time. Although the hard times were more than the good ones, she still gained a great deal of pleasure from the creation of music. As Ai Jing puts it, “Music is no longer my husband, but rather my lover.” Only at a special time and under special conditions, will she caress her “music lover,” but they will never part with each other.
Ai Jing no longer awaits a harvest. Living in New York, she still accepts the invitation from the Hong Kong Ming Pao Group to write her “Ai On The Road” column. She continues to stay in touch with us through her words, telling us about her tranquil life and non-tranquil journey. Being half-Manchu, Ai Jing shares her ancestor''''''''s love for the nomadic life, and she continues to change her habitat with the change of seasons. Maybe this is her ideal life.
May 8, 2007