Although well known in the Chinese community, Neko Zhang, a sultry singer/songwriter born in Nanjing, a southern Chinese state about four train hours from Shanghai, is a virtual unknown to the United States mainstream pop culture though she is making quick strides to change that situation. Her recently released CD production Wanton Desires is getting a lot of air play in Chinese radio stations around the country and she expects that this trend will soon touch the traditional airwaves.

Neko is pure sensuality. Her delivery and style evoke the exotic images of the Orient
in a spicy yet romantic way.

Upon our initial conversation with Neko, we immediately sensed that we were in the presence of someone special. Zhang has a bubbly and contagious personality and as we spoke to her, we realized that she was predestined to be in the entertainment business. Her mother, Qi Wenying, is a very well-known classical composer in China, her father Yu Zhang an architect. As Neko said, "they taught me values, they are an inspiration and they are a very important part of my life".

Under the influence of her mother, Neko was soon drawn into music and trained to become a soprano to sing in the Operatic circles. However, her interest in the pop culture and her desire to explore North America fueled the young singer to explore the possibilities that the music world had to offer from a different perspective.

Barely twenty, she arrived in New York in 1999 and, after just six months, became quite fluent in English to begin her conquest of the American public. Her character, her beauty and her undeniable talent have indeed taken over as can be attested by her English language debut, Wanton Desires.

The singer is in discussions to sign a representation deal with Greenberg & Taurig, a major entertainment outfit with offices in 24 cities across North America. The career prospects on her horizon seem better and brighter each day.

Neko stated that she is very excited about her life and the prospects to become the first Pop singer from mainland China to cross over. "I have been working towards this moment all my life and the response from people in

America has been terrific. This is a lot of work and I have set myself the goal to become a living example that Chinese people are much more than Chinese food and dry cleaners," said the singer while displaying her beautiful smile and sense of humor. The title track" Wanton Desires" is laden with double entendres. She hopes the song and its playful lyrics will help her cross the cultural divide.

Just back from a concert in Houston/ Texas where she performed in front of 10,000 people, Zhang reflected on the experience. "In Houston, I was in front of a very dynamic crowd. It was a true challenge but it was also quite an experience. The reaction of the audience to my performance was the biggest moment of my life. They responded very well, which has given me more inspiration to make it in the entertainment world in America. The press was wonderful and so was the response of critics. It makes my decision to come to America a wise one".

Although Neko has no dreams or aspirations to play professional basketball, her musical career at this moment is closely related to the myth of one of the most visible N.B.A. stars, Yao Ming.

Her newly released compact disc hit single is the "Yao Song" dedication to
Houston Rockets' center Yao Ming and it expounds on the admiration that all of Yao's countrymen have for basketball's tower of power. "Yao's development has inspired all Chinese people and it is has been a way of inspiring a nation. Yao Ming's success has shown that dedication and hard work can bring success to all. In that sense, Yao Ming is a very visible part of China's image in the world. He has been an inspiration to me as well. Yao and I both come from mainland China and we share the hope of the American dream," said the beautiful Chinese singer.

Some compare her sensual delivery to a mix between Sade and Diana Ross and after listening to her production, I have to agree with that assessment. Wanton Desires consists of 12 songs and the music that flows from Neko is perfect for a quiet evening at home next to a loved one. Although her music is definitely danceable, her range and delivery are an invitation to love, and her passionate delivery is something no one can object to.

She performs regularly at several Atlantic City casinos such as the Trump Plaza, the Tropicana and Claridge Sands as well as Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. She performed "The Yao Song" at Avery Fisher Hall during a Lunar Chinese New Year concert in January to the delight of a full house that, on that evening, cheered both for the basketball star and the soon-to-be entertainment star. With a slew of future dates in Las Vegas, Neko Zhang is definitely on her way.

A recent performance at Mohegan Sun Casino Resorts earned her some very positive accolades and the opportunity to perform in Las Vegas where a Casino has offered her a contract.

Her soulful and sensual voice no doubt will gain her fans in the pop field as will her playful and witty delivery. Undoubtedly, Neko has the potential to become a new voice in the competitive pop landscape and we should be hearing a lot more about this beautiful talent and her Wanton Desires.

She is definitely committed to her career and that is her driving force. "I believe in the American Dream," she stated, "and hard work and dedication are something my parents taught me and I firmly believe that it will pay off. The dedication to a chosen field of endeavor is what will carry a person through life - and I want to be a singer. I want to bring happiness to people and, of course, I want to be successful."

Neko Zhang is the complete package who has studied musical theory, piano and voice at the prestigious Nanjing Conservatory. She also studied voice and acting at HB studio New York. She also has a very interesting website where you can follow up on her travels as well as her career. In Neko Zhang, America has a worthwhile addition to the musical mix and a sure bet to add her spicy renditions to the favored collections of music fans.

In short, this lady is real and so is her music. She is a pleasure both to talk as well as to listen to. Neko Zhang is destined to join Yao Ming perhaps not in the basketball court but certainly as a fine example of the talent that comes from a part of the world that we certainly don't know as much about as we should.