Tia Ray

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Tia Ray
Tia Ray Love Can Fly Performance.jpg
Tia Ray in 2020
Yuan Yawei

(1984-12-12) December 12, 1984 (age 37)
Huaihua, Hunan, China
OccupationSinger, songwriter
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 袁婭維
Simplified Chinese 袁娅维
Musical career
Genres C-pop, R&B, Neo Soul
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Labels Warner Music China

Tia Ray (simplified Chinese: 袁娅维; traditional Chinese: 袁婭維; pinyin: Yuán Yàwéi; born 12 December) is a Chinese singer-songwriter from Hunan, China. She rose to fame in 2012 as a contestant on the televised singing competition The Voice of China, where she finished as one of the final contenders. She has since released four commercially successful albums, all of which she co-wrote and co-produced.


Prior to breaking into the mainstream, Ray has spent close to a decade performing in smaller venues, music festivals and collaborating with musicians in Beijing, where she pursued her studies of performing arts. In 2010, she formed her jazz band The Knutz with Chinese and African American musicians, with whom she wrote, recorded and performed mainly R&B and neo soul music.

Ray had her international breakthrough in 2018 with the hit “Be Apart”, which generated 1.8 billion streams and was the seventh bestselling single in the world that year. [1] She has since collaborated with various artists from the United States, including Kehlani, [2] Jason Derulo, [3] Gallant [4] and Far East Movement, [5] blending Chinese elements with traditionally Western music styles. Domestically, she has worked with singer-rapper Jackson Wang [6] from the K-pop group GOT7 and Masiwei from Chengdu rap group Higher Brothers. [7]

Ray's popularity in mainland China, Taiwan and Chinese-speaking communities has grown over the years. In 2021, she released her fourth studio album “ONCE UPON A MOON” and received the “Most Popular Female Singer of the Year” award from state-broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).

Life and career

Ray was born and raised in the town of Huai Hua, in the southwest province of Hunan. Ray's interest in music began at a young age, after being introduced by her friend to American singer Mariah Carey. In Grade 7, she won her first award in singing at a school competition. A few years later, she left her hometown for Beijing in pursuit of performing arts studies.

2000 - 2010: Career Beginnings

Inspired by neo soul artists like India Arie, Stevie Wonder, Eryka Badu and Jill Scott, Ray formed her first band Soulside with fellow young musicians in Beijing. Soulside focused on R&B and soul music, which were niche genres in the local live music scene, occupied largely by old-school rock and jazz musicians. The band gained a following through live-house and festival performances.

In 2010, Ray started her second band The Knutz. They continued to play at emerging venues and record original music.

2012 - 2014: The Voice of China; release of debut album T.I.A.

Ray's mainstream breakthrough came in 2012, when she joined the televised singing competition The Voice of China. Her blues-infused rendition of the Chinese folk classic "The Curvy Moon" (弯弯的月亮) received critical acclaim from the judges. She signed with Gold Typhoon Group, one of China's largest independent music companies before being acquired by Warner Music Group in 2014, and released her debut album T.I.A., writing or co-writing all songs, including the hits "Lost In Traveling" and "Love Can Fly".

2017 - 2018: Breakthrough hit; TIARA

In 2017, Ray recorded "Be Apart" for the soundtrack of the movie The Ex-File: The Return of the Exes, which became her biggest hit and the seventh highest-selling song on IFPI's Global Singles chart. The following year, she released her sophomore album TIARA and kicked off her first solo concert tour. She collaborated with R&B singer Kehlani on "Just My Luck”, Jackson Wang on "Lucky Rain" and Will Pan on his single “Moonlight”.

2019: International collaborations; 1212

In 2019, Ray released an EP titled 1212, written, produced and recorded mainly in Los Angeles, where she worked with local musicians including The Rascals, frequent collaborator of Ariana Grande, Kehlani and Babyface, whom she met in one of the studio sessions.

During her stay in the city, she also collaborated with hip-hop group Far East Movement on "Paint the Clouds", Gallant on "Trust Myself," and Jason Derulo on "Champion", the theme song of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

2020 - Present: Beijing Winter Olympics theme song; release of ONCE UPON A MOON

In 2020, Ray released “Starfall” featuring electronic group HOYO-MiX, the theme song of Chinese video game Honkai Impact 3rd.

She recorded the original version of the Beijing Winter Olympics theme song "Together for a Shared Future" with Hong Kong singer William Chan, which developed into a final version featuring over 200 artists. [8]

In 2021, she released her fourth studio album ONCE UPON A MOON, spanning the singles "I'M NOT GOOD", "EMO WHISKEY" and "LITTLE TOO MUCH". She also recorded an hour-long performance of new and old tracks, released together with the album.

Musical style

Ray's music is heavily influenced by urban and African American genres like R&B, Soul and Jazz. She believes in the ability of music to transcend race. [9] Critics and peers, including singer Hua Chenyu have described her as an "innovator" injecting new elements into the Chinese music industry.


Studio albums

Lead Singles



YearName of AwardOrganizer
2021Ranked #1 Song 《Little Too Much》TME Wave ChartWON
2021The Most Popular Female SingerCCTV Global Chinese Music Top 10 AwardsWON
2020Top 10 Golden Song for song 《不亏不欠》27th Chinese Top Ten Music Awards (东方风云榜)WON
2020Most Popular Female Singer27th Chinese Top Ten Music Awards (东方风云榜)WON
2019Female Singer of the Year2019 Chinese Songs and Music FestivalWON
2018Most Popular Female Singer12th Migu Music Awards WON
2018Top 10 Songs of the Year for song 《说散就散》12th Migu Music Awards WON
2018Female Singer of the Year Recommended by all Media Beijing Pop Music Awards WON
2017Media Recommended Song Award 《流花 Love Herby》21st China Music Awards WON
2017Singer Composer Award17th Annual Music AwardsWON
2015Outstanding Young Singer Award for album T.I.ACNTV Chinese Music AwardsWON
2015The Best Performance Award for album T.I.ACNTV Chinese Music AwardsWON
2015Jury Recommendation Award for album T.I.A16th Chinese Music Awards Nominated
2015Best Soul/R&B Album of the Year for album T.I.AChinese Jazz GeneralWON
2012Hottest Musician AwardBQ Weekly AwardsWON

I Am a Singer performances

Singer 2017

Ray first appeared in the I Am a Singer series as one of eight "Initial singers" for the season. After Ray narrowly avoid elimination for the first two shows (on the first week however, she was declared safe due to a contestant's withdrawal from the competition), she was eliminated on the third week. Ray later advanced to the semi-finals after reinstating her in the Breakout rounds, and finished in seventh place.

Singer 2017 Performance List for Tia Ray
EpisodeRoundBroadcast DateSong TitleOriginal SingerSong IntroductionRankingPercentages of VotesRemarks
11st Qualifying RoundJanuary 21, 2017"阿楚姑娘" (Mandarin)Frankie LiangLyrics: Meng Ye
Composer: Frankie Liang
Arranger: Zhao Zhao
73.74%Singer voting in third place
21st Knockout RoundJanuary 28, 2017"Love On Top" (English) Beyoncé Lyrics/Composer: Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Youngdell Nash, Shea Taylor
Arranger: Ni Ke
69.24%Singer voting in second place
Overall ranking is sixth (6.49% of votes)
31st Challenge RoundFebruary 4, 2017"蒙娜丽莎的眼泪" (Mandarin) Terry Lin Lyrics/Composer: Zheng Huajuan
Arranger: Kubert Leung
88.50%Eliminated (finished last)
42nd Knockout RoundFebruary 11, 2017"Golden" (English) Jill Scott Lyrics: Jill Scott
Composer: Anthony Bell
Arranger: Fergus Chow
Non-ranked performance (Return Performance)
11Breakout RoundApril 1, 2017"开往春天的地铁" (Mandarin) Yu Quan Lyrics: Wu Xiangfei
Composer: Zhang Yadong
Arranger: Michael Ning, Phil Wen
68.22%Breakout Success
"Kiss from a Rose" (English) Seal Lyrics/Composer: Seal
Arranger: Michael Ning, Phil Wen
12Semi-FinalsApril 8, 2017"Sex Machine" (English) James Brown Lyrics/Composer: James Brown, Bobby Byrd, Ron Lenhoff
Arranger: Nick Pyo
"爱是怀疑" (Mandarin) Eason Chan Lyrics/Composer: Hanjin Tan
Arranger: Nick Pyo
13FinalsApril 15, 2017"奋不顾身" (Mandarin)Liu Huan, Summer Lyrics/Composer: Liu Huan
Arranger: Zhao Zhao, Meng Ke
86.39%Overall ranking is seventh (7.61% of votes)
Assisted by guest singer Liu Huan
"凤凰于飞" (Mandarin)Liu HuanLyrics/Composer: Liu Huan
Arranger: Zhao Zhao, Meng Ke
142017 Biennial ConcertApril 22, 2017"Misty" (English) Johnny Mathis Lyrics: Johnny Burke
Composer: Erroll Garner
Arranger: Chang Shilei
Non-ranked performance
Assisted by guest singer Chang Shilei
"来日方长" (Mandarin) Isabelle Huang, Joker Xue Lyrics: Chang Shilei
Composer: Tia Ray, Chang Shilei
Arranger: Chang Shilei

Singer 2018

Ray was invited as one of the four guest singers from the 2017 season during the season's biennial concert along with a guest Victor Ma. That season was currently the latest season to feature a concert airing after the finals held a week prior. The 2018 season also featured runner-up Hua Chenyu, who would also later compete along with Ray and two other singers two years later, and Hua gone on to win the season. [10]

Singer 2019 Performance List for Tia Ray
EpisodeRoundBroadcast DateSong TitleOriginal SingerSong IntroductionRankingPercentages of VotesRemarks
142018 Biennial ConcertApril 20, 2018"下个,路口,见" Li Yuchun Lyrics/Composer: Li Yuchun
Arrangement: Chen Hanwen
Chang Shilei
Non-ranked performance (as Guest Performer)

Singer 2019

Ray was again invited as a guest singer on the seventh season to accompany with Liu Huan (the eventual winner for that season) once more during the semi-finals.

Singer 2019 Performance List for Tia Ray
EpisodeRoundBroadcast DateSong TitleOriginal SingerSong IntroductionRankingPercentages of VotesRemarks
13Semi-FinalsApril 5, 2019"City of Stars"(English) Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Composer: Justin Hurwitz
Non-ranked performance (as Guest Performer)

Singer 2020

Ray later returned for her second season in 2020, entitled Year of the Hits, as one of the four returning singers from seasons four to six (including Lala Hsu, Jam Hsiao and season's winner Hua Chenyu). Ray was again eliminated after week eight (and unlike previous seasons, Ray was not entitled to Returning Performances the following week due to safety concerns regarding the coronavirus outbreak at the time), but she was reinstated upon her success in the Breakouts and went on to clinch as the season's runner-up, making her the best-performing previously eliminated singer in the series. [11] [12]

Singer 2020 Performance List for Tia Ray
EpisodeRoundBroadcast DateSong TitleOriginal SingerSong IntroductionRankingPercentages of VotesRemarks
11st Qualifier RoundFebruary 7, 2020"我爱"Tia RayLyrics: Malay, Trey Cambell, Tia Ray, Li Cong
Composer: Malay, Trey Cambell, Tia Ray
Arranged: Michael Ning, Julian Waterfall Pollack
66.55%Won "Surprise Challenge" against Jeryl Lee (247-232)
21st Knockout RoundFebruary 14, 2020"不亏不欠"Tia RayLyrics: Cheung Cho Kiu
Composer: Khris Riddick-Tynes, Leon Thomas III, Debbie Aramide
Arranged: Huang Yun Xun, Zhang Yiyu
314.36%Overall placement is sixth (10.455% of votes)
32nd Qualifier RoundFebruary 21, 2020"有一种悲伤" A-Lin Lyrics: Gavin Lin
Composer: Alex Chang Jien
42nd Knockout RoundFebruary 28, 2020"Love Can Fly"Tia RayLyrics: Tia Ray
Composer: Chang Shilei
415.92%Overall placement is fifth (13.295% of votes)
53rd Qualifier RoundMarch 6, 2020"凄美地"Guo DingLyrics/Composer: Guo Ding415.15%Lost "Surprise Challenge" against Jike Junyi (212-274)
63rd Knockout RoundMarch 13, 2020"月牙湾" F.I.R. Lyrics: Kevin Yi, Xie Youhui
Composer: Real Huang
217.13%Overall placement is third (16.145% of votes)
74th Qualifier RoundMarch 20, 2020"存·不存在"Tia RayLyrics: Yu Hong Long, Ape Kao
Composer: Yu Hong Long
84th Knockout RoundMarch 27, 2020"我想"Yu JiayunLyrics/Composer: Yu Jiayun77.78%Eliminated/Overall placement is seventh (11.005% of votes)
"I Love You 3000 II" Jackson Wang Lyrics/Composer: Jackson Wang, Stephanie Poetri
11Breakout RoundApril 17, 2020"盛夏光年" Mayday Lyrics/Composer: Ashin 138.04%Breakout Success
Won Duel against Super-Vocal (328-157)
12Grand FinalsApril 24, 2020"2020 So Crazy" medley2N/ARound 1 performance - Guest singer is Victor Ma
Won Duel against Misia (312-173)
"So Crazy" Coco Lee Lyrics: Hanjin Tan, Coco Lee
Composer: Coco Lee
"Lover Boy 88" Higher Brothers
Phum Viphurit
Lyrics: Higher Brothers
Composer: Higher Brothers, Phum Viphurit
"Young Prince"Victor Ma
Lyrics/Composer: Victor Ma
"Starfall"Tia RayLyrics: TetraCalyx
Composer: Zoe Tsai
30.68%Round 2 performance

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