Mai Yang Xiong is a singer/songwriter, teaching artist, and community event organizer from St. Paul, Minnesota. She recently graduated from St. Catherine’s University with a BS in Respiratory Care. Her recent projects include managing an emerging artist from San Diego, California in releasing his first EP album project, creating and leading the SHE Pab: Voices of Hmong Women organization from St. Catherine University, and advising Art Saves Us music program instructors from the Center for Hmong Arts & Talent (CHAT). Currently she is a teacher’s assistant for Jackson Elementary, tutoring students grades K through 4 on learning how to speak, write, and read in Hmong.
“In order to explain why I partake in community services and why I believe in the work of SSMT, I have to share with you my personal story. I grew up with strict parents who did not allow me to explore the arts for the generic reason that art careers were financially stressful. For a while, I believed them because they were my parents – what else could I do? As a seventh grader, I remember hiding the guitar that I bought at a flea market in the garage and practicing only when my parents weren’t around. I would secretly buy a portable CD player and take it out only on the bus rides to and from school. I would get my friends to pick me up when I had performances and lie to my parents that I was going to go study. I always questioned why I had to live a secret life when it actually involved positive works. One evening, I worked up the nerves to invite my parents to watch me perform for the first time ever after having lived my secret life for about six years. My parents may not have seen my progression, but I can tell they were proud because it was something that they saw I clearly enjoyed. This was when I learned that it is okay to love the arts even if you’re breaking cultural norms. I am inspired by SSMT and was excited when approached to join the team. For SSMT, I bring my personal stories, talents, ideas, and passion for mentoring and teaching. As a Hmong woman who stood up to her own parents and cultural norms to do service and the things that I love, I hope to encourage curiosity in these youths the same way I did.”