NEW YORK (AP) — Grammy-winning hitmaker Timbaland has worked with everyone from Jay Z to Justin Timberlake to the "Empire" TV series cast, but his latest muse is Chinese pop singer Jane Zhang.
Timbaland and Zhang, a global international sensation known as "The Dolphin Princess" thanks to her whispery high vocals, partnered for the song "Dust My Shoulders Off," which reached the top 10 on the U.S. iTunes' songs chart.
"Timbaland gave me such a brand new life journey; it's not just about music ... (he) really makes me feel refreshed," Zhang, 32, said in a recent interview. "He's got a lot of ideas when we're doing music; some ideas just suddenly come without any reasons. I don't know, I just love those ideas."
"Dust My Shoulders Off" is an additive, beat-driven pop song. It's a departure from the sound Zhang has been known for back home, which helped her score multiple hits.
The collaboration came about quickly: Two weeks after meeting with Timbaland's manager in a recording studio, Zhang was recording with the man behind hits for Missy Elliott and Nelly Furtado.
Zhang came to fame after competing on the popular, all-female TV singing competition "Super Girl" in China. She says though she is established outside of the U.S., she's enjoying being a new artist: "(It's) kind of another journey in my life (to) start again."
She plans to release an album this year and says artists like Mariah Carey helped her fall in love with music, and taught her English.
"Her voice makes me think about how to sing the songs well, how to release your emotions to everyone. The first time I heard her music I didn't learn English yet so I didn't understand the lyrics ...I just feel that her voice is amazing, and I can really feel the things she told," Zhang said of Carey.
"After a few years I wanted to learn English and I checked the lyrics. It just mean the same thing I felt," she added. "So I totally think her voice, her songs crossed the culture."