Dear Kim Jonghyun


A letter to Kim Jonghyun, a favorite musician of mine, who died on 12/18. Thanks to Letters to Jonghyun for inspiring this and allowing me to share.

Jonghyun, even though I don’t speak or write a word of Korean, your voice and your spirit so strongly spoke to me, I wanted to let you know that it had the power to transcend language and truly touch my heart.

It didn’t take much to see your talent. As soon as you opened your mouth to sing it was evident. My friend once told me it took approximately 12 seconds for me to fall in love with your voice, and it’s true. But your spirit? your lovely soul? That is the true treasure. Your empathy, your deep empathy for others, especially those who are different and outside of the “norm”, was so beautiful to witness. It radiated from you, from your smile, from your soft voice, from your skillful storytelling. You always said you loved to tell stories, and it showed not only in your lyrics but the way you sang like you put your heart and soul out on display.

I love your loyalty. I loved seeing your pride as a member of SHINee, your deep love of your members. I knew you meant it when you said SHINee would only disband if you could not physically be together.

I always felt a kinship to you because we are very similar: Stubborn Aries children. We love our mom and our big sister. I love that you are a big music NERD. (I loved hearing about the new music you were listening to, you were always so adventurous.) We both struggled with the darkness inside of us but always tried to enjoy every drop of life we could.

I saw that in you, and honestly, because I am older than you and made it through, I wanted so badly for you to know that you could too. That you *could* make it, especially with that big heart and supernova talent of yours.

And that’s the last thing I wanted to tell you. What I always wanted to say, but especially because you were so worried that you were lacking in your musical ability. You, Kim Jonghyun, are a once in a lifetime talent.  You have an almost uncanny ear for detail and complexity in melody, a preternatural understanding of how to make beautiful harmonies fit like hand in glove. That was you, Jonghyun. And trust me, we heard you. We noticed.

I want you to know that. And I want you to know that  even though I so wish you had stayed with us, I hope you’re in the light now. I think you will *still* change the music industry, but you definitely changed lives for the better. You have earned your rest, Jonghyun. We’ll take over from here.

Keidra Chaney (Chicago, USA)

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