K-pop is forged with a crowd mentality, and the ethos, in a nutshell, runs like this: safety in numbers. But sometimes a voice rises above, and that’s the case for TAEYEON, the Girls’ Generation member who has forged a solo career on the strength of her charisma and ethereal presence. Born Kim Tae-Yeon in South Korea in 1989, she knew early that singing was her path. She studied music in school and signed to the powerhouse K-pop label SM Entertainment at the age of 15, after which she underwent years of gruelling training. The suffering paid off, as she was cast as the leader of what was soon to be one of K-pop’s most successful girl groups, Girls’ Generation, in 2004 (though the group didn’t debut until 2007). TAEYEON quickly distinguished herself among the eight-member group, thanks in large part to her voice, an instrument that unusually combines delicacy and power. When she embarked on a solo career in 2015 with the EP I, she crafted a sound that was distinct from that of her ballad-heavy group. The result was a more strident pop-rock that showed her vocal chops without sacrificing the remarkable sense of intimacy she can achieve. In 2017, she released her debut solo LP, My Voice, and she followed that up with 2019’s Purpose and its sparky hit single “Four Seasons”. Ever the border crosser, TAEYEON has not neglected her overseas fans, releasing EPs in Japanese, including the empowered 2020 EP #GirlsSpkOut.
HOMETOWNJeonju, North Jeolla, South Korea
BORNMarch 9, 1989