Canadian recording artists based abroad tend to get disregarded by domestic media unless the foreign country in question is the United States. If a Canadian artist gets snatched up by a foreign record label and relocates to a country like the UK, Hong Kong, Germany, South Korea, what have you, he tends to remain oblivious to the Canadian populace. Things become especially obscure when that artist records music in an Allophone tongue. Consider the scenario that a Canadian singer fluent in both English and Italian gets offered a generous contract by an Italian label, relocates to Italy, records primarily in Italian, and becomes a huge superstar in Italy. Will the Canadian media bring this to the attention of the Canadian public? Aside from maybe a little piece in the back pages of a newspaper or two, generally not.
We have featured a number of these types of artists in Canadian Music Blog, and it is time for another. One of the biggest superstars born and raised in Canada that most of you will have never heard of is Gina Choi who records under the name G.NA.
Gina Choi was born in Edmonton and graduated from Fraser Heights Secondary School in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey. She was signed by Good Entertainment under Korea’s CJ Group and was to lead girl group Five Girls. However, the group disbanded prior to its scheduled debut in 2007 due to the label’s financial troubles. Choi found herself stranded in Korea trying to break into the music industry. She became a backup singer for K-pop superstar Hyuna. Despite being of Korean descent, she had a hard time with culture shock, having grown up in Canada.
In an English interview in Singapore, G.NA stated that, in Canadian culture, if an elder person asks you to do something, you can ask why or just say no. In Korea however, this is considered taboo. She also said certain body language and gestures meant different things, and she had to relearn the way she motioned her hands.
At long last, G.NA was picked up by Cube Entertainment and experienced a huge breakout success as a soloist, not only in South Korea but a number of other countries. Her EPs and songs like “Top Girl”, “2Hot”, and “Black & White” rocketed up the charts. According to one source, the latter single reached #1 in Korea selling over 2.5 million copies there.
Alas, at this writing, G.NA is at a new crossroads. On March 1, 2016, she announced that she had chosen not to renew her contract with Cube and left the label under good terms. We are keeping our fingers crossed that she finds a suitable new home and continues slaying in the K-pop realm or perhaps a switch to maple pop? We have embedded below G.NA’s MV for 2011 smash “Black & White” which has 12 million views on YouTube.