Elevating Asian Voices in the South

Story #10

Meet David Jung-Hsin Lin, an employee benefits advisor and musician based in Greensboro.

The Durham-Chapel Hill native identifies as Taiwanese American who always felt more Southern than Taiwanese. In his spare time, he performs around the Triad with his band. We’re honored to share his stories about identity and his passion for music with you. 

More of David's Story

How does your Taiwanese-American identity inform your life?  

“That’s an interesting question to think about. I’ve always thought that I was more southern than I was Taiwanese. I speak with a Southern accent and can make sausage gravy! I’m sure some of that was subconsciously (or consciously) trying to fit in as an Asian kid growing up in Durham.  

I’m learning to embrace the Taiwanese side of me though. It helps to have more Asian representation in mainstream media — of course, Jeremy Lin (a Taiwanese -American professional basketball player) is a hero, but also movies like “Crazy Rich Asians” or the TV show “Fresh Off the Boat.”  Still, though, my “Asian”-ness is a distinction. 

 

Did your family observe cultural rituals, daily practices, or philosophies? 

“Removing shoes before entering a home for sure. My mom mostly cooked Taiwanese/Asian cuisine, and I attended a Saturday night Chinese Bible Study all growing up. I spoke mostly Taiwanese at home.”

 

Is your cultural identity an important part of your life?  

“Yes but I’m still grappling with what it has meant to grow up as an Asian American in the South and how those experiences shaped me.” 

 

Tell us about your music?  

“I was your typically Asian kid that played violin as a little child. I started taking violin lessons when I was 6 with Dorothy Kitchen who directed the Duke String School. Every Saturday morning was spent in orchestra, so much so that when Betamax first came out, my parents bought one so I could record Saturday morning cartoons to watch Saturday afternoon. 

I eventually worked up to studying under Giorgio Ciompi, founder of the Ciompi Quartet, until he passed away. As an impressionable teenager it became abundantly clear that proficiency on a violin did not carry a lot of social merit with my peers. So at the age of 16, I hung up the violin and bought a red Kramer electric guitar and a Peavey amp and set out to become the Asian Eddie Van Halen. 

I played in garage bands all through high school and college but also picked up an acoustic guitar playing James Taylor singer/songwriter music. My first job out of college was working with a ministry to high schoolers called Young Life and a lot of our weekly meetings consisted of singing whatever songs were on the radio. I’ve spent untold hours in front of hundreds of teenagers leading them in songs. 

The first time I played a wine bar gig I literally brought all of my Young Life song books and played from them! I do love the irony of being an Asian guy singing Free Bird and David Allan Coe — completely not what anyone would expect but it’s fun breaking stereotypes.

When I was younger I joked about becoming the first Asian country music singer, but didn’t think I could pull off a cowboy hat and a big belt buckle. These days I suppose country music has broken out of that mold but at my age now, that ship sailed long ago!”

 

Is music your full-time gig or a side hustle/passion?  

“Completely a side gig but it’s a great source of release after stressful weeks of work. I try to play with other musicians as much as possible because it’s totally a camaraderie thing.  

Most of the guys I’ve been playing with have been friends for almost 20 years — all of them from leading worship at church. The thing most people say about us is that you can tell we’re having a great time playing. We all have goofy grins the whole time because it’s so much fun. 

Our audiences love to see that and it carries over into them. I almost always think of the Billy Joel line: ”It’s me they’ve been coming to see to forget about life for awhile.” 

I don’t think anyone’s coming to see “me” but music can definitely take you to a place where you can “forget about life for awhile.”  

If we’re conduits for that and are able to bring a little bit of joy, that’s a great privilege. I’m so glad I get to play with these guys: Wanye Moyer on drums, Ryan Bowles on bass, Scotty Pullins on electric guitar and James McLaughlin on the keys. Mark Wingerter and David McKenney sometimes join me on drums.  Charlie Swing plays guitar with us a lot. They’re all great musicians and keep it low key and fun.”  

 

Why is music such an important part of your life?  

“As much as an audience is able to forget about life for awhile, it’s the same for us. It’s a great excuse to get together with a couple friends, drink some beer, have fun and play Skynyrd. I’ve also always loved the opportunity to meet and talk to people on breaks or after the sets.  

Greensboro can still be a relatively small town relationally so it’s fun to make a lot of connections talking to folks at gigs. Actually at one gig I met someone who grew up in my neighborhood in Durham back in the 70’s!” 

 

What’s on your Best of Playlist?  

“Wow — that’s tough. Ben Rector just came out with a new album. I like him a lot.  My southern rock favorites are Zac Brown, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers. Very big Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Van Morrison fan.  Andrew Peterson is a favorite for how he communicates faith concepts so poetically, and David Wilcox was a huge influence for innovative things he did on the guitar and the storytelling in his songs.”   

 

What are you reading? (OR what do you want to read)?  

“I’ve really liked Tim Keller’s writings. He’s a pastor in New York City who does a great job talking about Jesus and the Christian faith in a way that is challenging to both the religious and the irreligious.”  

 

Who was the greatest influence on your life, and why? 

“I’d say the greatest influence in my life is being a follower of Jesus and from that, a longtime connection with the ministry of Young Life. Young Life is what brought me to Greensboro and most of my lasting friendships here are from our shared experiences. I met my wife when we were both leaders with Young Life at NW Guilford High School. Through the ministry of Young Life I saw an aspect of following Jesus that was relational and full of life.” 

How does your Taiwanese-American identity inform your life?  

“That’s an interesting question to think about. I’ve always thought that I was more southern than I was Taiwanese. I speak with a Southern accent and can make sausage gravy! I’m sure some of that was subconsciously (or consciously) trying to fit in as an Asian kid growing up in Durham.  

I’m learning to embrace the Taiwanese side of me though. It helps to have more Asian representation in mainstream media — of course Jeremy Lin (a Taiwanese -American professional basketball player) is a hero, but also movies like “Crazy Rich Asians” or the TV show “Fresh Off the Boat.”  Still though, my “Asian”-ness is a distinction. 

 

Did your family observe cultural rituals, daily practices or philosophies? 

“Removing shoes before entering a home for sure. My mom mostly cooked Taiwanese/Asian cuisine, and I attended a Saturday night Chinese Bible Study all growing up. I spoke mostly Taiwanese at home.”

 

Is your cultural identity an important part of your life?  

“Yes but I’m still grappling with what it has meant to grow up as an Asian American in the South and how those experiences shaped me.” 

 

More: To see where David is playing next, follow him on Facebook at David Lin

Yes, this content is available for you to download and share with our compliments!

Before you download, please review the Terms of Use. You must cite our talented Story Collaborators who donated these works by name for anything you utilize or share.

  The Photo Album

This download contains a zip file with all of the images.

Story Collaborators
Rob Brown, Rob Brown Photography

Rob Brown, Rob Brown Photography

Photography

I’ve been an award-winning staff photographer in Virginia, Greensboro, and Chicago. Working as a freelancer in Baltimore allowed me to also be a stay-at-home dad while shooting weddings, sports, and editorial photos for the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Football Digest, the Baltimore Sun, and Associated Press, among others.

I came back to Greensboro to be the Director of Photography at the News & Record, leading an incredibly talented group of photographers. When not taking pictures, I like fishing, growing hot peppers, and tomatoes, kayaking, walking two rescue dogs my wife and I share a house with and playing pickleball, a game I picked up to replace racquetball after COVID changed our world.

Dave Soper, Maunaleo Ventures

Dave Soper, Maunaleo Ventures

Media Production

Dave is a builder, fixer, and protector of digital things. He has worked for small businesses and Fortune 200 companies across multiple industries, including financial services, manufacturing, and defense.

Dave was born in the District of Columbia but considers the Districts of North Kohala and Hamakua his spirit home [once from the District, always from a District]. Dave does not do social media or answer the phone very often, so if you want to reach him, you will probably need to go analog. Brah,  dasswhyhard!

Volunteer: Be A Creative

Are you a "creative" professional?  We have a number of ways for you to get involved. Whether you can only spare a few hours, or you want to take on a project, we will help you find the right opportunity.

Tell your story

Want to share your personal AAPI story? We’re intrigued! Introduce yourself and why you would like to be featured.

Be a sponsor

Our stories are rich, but we aren’t. We’re donating 100% of our time and resources to bring you this amazing content, so help us out here.