Hailing from South Korea, Kim So-hyang, known professionally simply as Sohyang, is a uterine cancer survivor. Told at a young age that she could never have children, she has devoted herself to lifting others up with her voice, using her experience overcoming illness and her musical talent to empathize with and elevate others.
As a teenager, she sang on numerous records and toured extensively, with her husband’s band, with Michael Bolton, and at various events, singing the National Anthem at an NBA game in 2014, for instance. She also provided the voice for the lead character in the Korean version of Moana.
Now 44 years old (but looking far younger), she has become a bit of worldwide sensation thanks to YouTube and social media.
This rendition of the classic Dolly Parton composition, immortalized by Whitney Houston, breathes new life into the song, with a sincerity and skill that sets it apart. How well something is done often makes the difference, and Sohyang’s phrasing, timbre, and meticulous control leave her fellow competitors — and the construction workers watching nearby — spellbound.
It’s unusual for a performance to give me chills and melt my heart at the same time, so be prepared.
Bonus: If Sierra Hull is coming to your area, and you like jazzy bluegrass played with great joy and skill, be sure to check her out. This is the encore she and her band performed last night in Worcester, MA, shot by yours truly. The place was packed, and the event joyful and exciting. Hull is also an excellent bluegrass singer.