The Wu Force performs tonight at Van Meter

Aaron Mudd

WKU’s Cultural Enhancement Series welcomes its first guest of the new semester: The Wu-Force, a trio of folk musicians, who combine their backgrounds in Chinese and Appalachian music. They will perform at Van Meter Hall tonight.

David Lee, dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters, said that the series gives students the opportunity to hear diverse ideas from invited guests.

“The Cultural Enhancement Series is designed to bring interesting people to campus,” Lee said. “It’s an opportunity for folks here at WKU to interact with some challenging and creative people.”

Van Meter Hall will open at 6:30 p.m. tonight, and the performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free to all.

The Wu-Force features the instrumental talents of Abigail Washburn, Kai Welch and Wu Fei. Wu Fei plays the guzheng, a traditional Chinese string instrument that is plucked.

“The history of the guzheng is about 2500 years (old),” Wu said. “Anything that’s less than a thousand years we think is young.”

Wu first met Washburn in Boulder, Colo., when a mutual friend introduced them.

“We wanted to work together,” Wu said.

Washburn and Welch toured China together in 2009. The duo met in Wu’s Beijing apartment, where the three played together for the first time.

The Wu-Force became more concrete when they started writing songs together in 2011, Wu said.

“It was born in China,” Wu said. “Now we’re shifting to the States.”

Wu said the name of their group was inspired in part by Daoism, a Chinese religion emphasizing harmony, and how the global culture is becoming smaller. 

“Why do we want so much,” Wu said. “Nothingness is everything.” 

Wu said that when they get together, they work 8 to 10 hours a day writing and recording. 

“We just write everything together,” she said. “Mostly we all bring our ideas, and then we see if that’s the sound of the Wu-Force.”

Wu said she wants her work with the The Wu-Force to help people enjoy each other’s cultures and get beyond the stereotypes they might have about them. 

“Music is borderless,” she said. Wu said that she values her collaboration with Washburn and Welch because of their different musical backgrounds, which include folk and rock. Wu, born, raised and currently living in Beijing, said that their work together is rewarding despite the long distance. 

“It’s a really, really attractive long distance relationship,” she said. “I love it so much I can’t get enough of it.”