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From China, with Guitar

Singer/songwriter Brenda Xu was born in Harbin, China, near Russia's southern border. "I was five years old when I first came to America to live with my grandmother," she says. When she was ten, her mother joined them in the U.S. and began teaching Xu piano. "I was in high school when I got my first guitar and began writing songs. When I first played around town at open mikes, it was a little duo with a friend of mine. We played three shows, and then I started writing songs on my own."

Her first solo gig was in January 2007 at the Hot Java Cafe in Carmel Mountain Ranch. She sometimes performs and records with guitarist Ivan Cheong and occasionally plays with a bassist as well. Her six-song CD It's True was released this summer. She appears November 19 at UCSD's Café Roma and November 23 at Java Jones on Ninth Avenue.

WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?

1. Tori Amos, Boys for Pele. "I like her older albums better than her newer ones. Little Earthquakes is one of my favorite albums of all time, but this one also has so many beautiful melodies on it. Tori can sing a song with attitude and soul like no one else."

2. Vienna Teng, Dreaming through the Noise. "Her music takes you somewhere, transports you. Her songs tell a story, and you are drawn into it as soon as you hear the first notes."

3. Tristan Prettyman, Twentythree. "When I first bought it, I listened to this CD so much that I got sick of it. But I started listening to it again recently and rediscovered its innocent, ethereal quality."

DESERT-ISLAND DVDs?

1. Hilary and Jackie. "This film is depressing as hell, but the cinematography is gorgeous, and the actors are phenomenal in it. It also has a killer score, with pieces performed by Jacqueline du Pré, whom the film is about."

2. Reality Bites. "Best slacker movie ever."

3. Six Feet Under. "My favorite television series of all time. I usually don't buy DVDs, but I own this box set. It's well written, and there is a 'realness' -- an uncensored quality -- to it."

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. "This is a classic love story told in an unconventional way, and I'm a sucker for great love stories."

WHO WOULD YOU MOST ENJOY MEETING FOR LUNCH?

"Aimee Mann. She's one of my favorite songwriters, and I'd love to pick her brain about random topics."

FAVORITE DEAD CELEBRITY?

"Elliot Smith, because of his songs. I wish he weren't so miserable when he was alive. I always wonder how such brilliant musicians could be so unsatisfied with themselves when they have the ability to create art that touches so many people."

FIRST BOOK YOU REMEMBER READING?

"Too Much Magic, which was about these kids who stumbled upon some magical powers. My uncle, who I grew up with, made me do a book report on it."

FAVORITE MAGAZINES?

"I don't subscribe to any at the moment, but I used to read Rolling Stone religiously. If I had the funds to subscribe to one right now, it would probably be the Economist. Their articles are more interesting than a lot of other international news publications."

MOST VISITED WEBSITES?

"I have to say MySpace, even though some people think it's a cult. It's a good place to find new music that isn't played on the radio and a great marketing tool for musicians."

TOP GUILTY PLEASURES?

1. "Watching reality shows like America's Next Top Model."

2. "Eating chocolate cheesecake."

3. "Playing covers of pop songs."

MAC OR PC?

"I use a PC, but I'm getting a Mac for my next computer because they are so damn cute, which is the most important factor to consider when purchasing any kind of technological equipment."

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Singer/songwriter Brenda Xu was born in Harbin, China, near Russia's southern border. "I was five years old when I first came to America to live with my grandmother," she says. When she was ten, her mother joined them in the U.S. and began teaching Xu piano. "I was in high school when I got my first guitar and began writing songs. When I first played around town at open mikes, it was a little duo with a friend of mine. We played three shows, and then I started writing songs on my own."

Her first solo gig was in January 2007 at the Hot Java Cafe in Carmel Mountain Ranch. She sometimes performs and records with guitarist Ivan Cheong and occasionally plays with a bassist as well. Her six-song CD It's True was released this summer. She appears November 19 at UCSD's Café Roma and November 23 at Java Jones on Ninth Avenue.

WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?

1. Tori Amos, Boys for Pele. "I like her older albums better than her newer ones. Little Earthquakes is one of my favorite albums of all time, but this one also has so many beautiful melodies on it. Tori can sing a song with attitude and soul like no one else."

2. Vienna Teng, Dreaming through the Noise. "Her music takes you somewhere, transports you. Her songs tell a story, and you are drawn into it as soon as you hear the first notes."

3. Tristan Prettyman, Twentythree. "When I first bought it, I listened to this CD so much that I got sick of it. But I started listening to it again recently and rediscovered its innocent, ethereal quality."

DESERT-ISLAND DVDs?

1. Hilary and Jackie. "This film is depressing as hell, but the cinematography is gorgeous, and the actors are phenomenal in it. It also has a killer score, with pieces performed by Jacqueline du Pré, whom the film is about."

2. Reality Bites. "Best slacker movie ever."

3. Six Feet Under. "My favorite television series of all time. I usually don't buy DVDs, but I own this box set. It's well written, and there is a 'realness' -- an uncensored quality -- to it."

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. "This is a classic love story told in an unconventional way, and I'm a sucker for great love stories."

WHO WOULD YOU MOST ENJOY MEETING FOR LUNCH?

"Aimee Mann. She's one of my favorite songwriters, and I'd love to pick her brain about random topics."

FAVORITE DEAD CELEBRITY?

"Elliot Smith, because of his songs. I wish he weren't so miserable when he was alive. I always wonder how such brilliant musicians could be so unsatisfied with themselves when they have the ability to create art that touches so many people."

FIRST BOOK YOU REMEMBER READING?

"Too Much Magic, which was about these kids who stumbled upon some magical powers. My uncle, who I grew up with, made me do a book report on it."

FAVORITE MAGAZINES?

"I don't subscribe to any at the moment, but I used to read Rolling Stone religiously. If I had the funds to subscribe to one right now, it would probably be the Economist. Their articles are more interesting than a lot of other international news publications."

MOST VISITED WEBSITES?

"I have to say MySpace, even though some people think it's a cult. It's a good place to find new music that isn't played on the radio and a great marketing tool for musicians."

TOP GUILTY PLEASURES?

1. "Watching reality shows like America's Next Top Model."

2. "Eating chocolate cheesecake."

3. "Playing covers of pop songs."

MAC OR PC?

"I use a PC, but I'm getting a Mac for my next computer because they are so damn cute, which is the most important factor to consider when purchasing any kind of technological equipment."

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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