“Echoes of Heritage”: Johnny Huynh’s Musical Journey Through Asian Identity

Johnny Huynh © Léa Godoy
Johnny Huynh © Léa Godoy
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Atwood Magazine has invited artists to participate in a series of essays reflecting on identity, music, culture, inclusion, and more.
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Today, Seattle-born Vietnamese-American vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Johnny Huynh shares his essay, “Echoes of Heritage,” an exploration of the profound influence of Asian heritage on his life, from childhood experiences in vibrant cultural communities to college involvement and aspirations in the music industry, highlighting the power of cultural pride and resilience, as a part of Atwood Magazine’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month series!
Johnny Huynh seems to know precisely what you’re going through you, understand you, and sing the words you need to hear. By tuning into exact emotions, he exhibits an uncanny ability to empathize via music. This unfiltered approach has endeared him to millions of followers on social media who hang on to each note he plays and lyric he utters. Juggling college and engineering internships at the likes of SpaceX, he understands the Gen-Z experience as an insider.
Growing up in the small town of Bothell, WA, Johnny immersed himself in music as a kid. At four-years-old, he enrolled in classical piano lessons until eighth grade when he switched to jazz, studying chord theory. He and his two older brothers often performed as a group during fundraisers to benefit the Buddhist temple frequented by their mom. In high school, the self-proclaimed “band geek” won various soloist awards at local jazz festivals, participated in state competitions, and served as marching band lead captain. At college, he anesthetized the aftermath of his first serious breakup by posting videos on social media. His emotionally charged vocal cover of d4vd’s “Romantic Homicide” exploded on TikTok. He fueled the fire with successive viral covers (often singing in his garage), attracting over 4 million followers on TikTok and 3 million on Instagram. Capitalizing on the moment, he also dropped originals such as “The One That Was Meant For Me” and “Cheater.” Eventually, he caught the attention of Columbia Records and inked a deal with the label. Now, he kickstarts another era with the single “GOOD AS YOU.”



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“ECHOES OF HERITAGE”

GOOD AS YOU - Johnny Huynh

by Johnny Huynh

My upbringing has been profoundly influenced by my Asian heritage, shaping my perspectives, values, and sense of belonging throughout my life journey.

Growing up in Seattle, I was immersed in a vibrant Asian community, particularly through my active participation in Buddhist Temples that welcomed a significant Vietnamese population. These early experiences laid the groundwork for a profound appreciation of my heritage and a strong bond with my cultural roots.

Johnny Huynh © Léa Godoy
Johnny Huynh © Léa Godoy

Frequent visits to Buddhist Temples were a cherished part of my childhood. My mother, a devoted member of the temple, dedicated herself to various community initiatives and charitable causes. This exposure instilled in me a deep sense of responsibility towards helping others and highlighted the importance of community engagement and cultural preservation. Together with my two older brothers, I often took part in performances and fundraising events at the temples, contributing to meaningful causes that resonated with our hearts. These endeavors not only raised necessary funds but also fostered a sense of unity and solidarity within our community.

One of the most memorable aspects of my early years was my involvement in volunteering and performing at Lunar New Year Festivals during middle school. These festivals served as celebrations of culture, showcasing traditional music, dances, and food. Through active participation, I not only honed my artistic talents but also formed deep connections with fellow Asian children of my age. These shared experiences not only created lasting friendships but also deepened my understanding of the diverse Asian heritage within our community.

Johnny Huynh © Léa Godoy
Johnny Huynh © Léa Godoy

The inspiring journey of my parents, who immigrated to the United States during the Vietnam War, has profoundly impacted my appreciation for Asian heritage. Their resilience, determination, and sacrifices serve as an enduring source of inspiration, propelling me to work diligently in my goals, particularly within the music industry. Their stories mirror the challenges I encounter as an aspiring musician, reinforcing my drive to succeed and make them proud.

My involvement in the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) during my college years at the University of Washington has further deepened my connection to my heritage. This association has been a hub of cultural enrichment, providing opportunities to delve deeper into Vietnamese traditions, language, and values. Through VSA, I have not only expanded my knowledge of my heritage but have also forged lasting friendships with individuals who share a similar passion for embracing and celebrating our Asian identity.

Additionally, my Asian heritage has profoundly influenced my career aspirations and personal values. I am committed to making positive contributions to society, drawing upon the values of hard work, compassion, and cultural awareness instilled in me by my heritage. Whether through community service initiatives, advocacy for cultural diversity, or my pursuits within the music industry, I am driven by a sense of purpose rooted in my cultural identity.

Johnny Huynh © Léa Godoy
Johnny Huynh © Léa Godoy

As I navigate through a predominantly Caucasian-dominated pop music industry, I am determined to serve as an inspiration to other Asian Americans who share similar aspirations.

I believe in the power of sharing my journey and successes to empower fellow Asian artists to embrace their heritage, pursue their passions wholeheartedly, and strive for excellence in their chosen paths. Diversity in music not only enriches the artistic landscape but also fosters a more inclusive and representative industry where voices from all backgrounds are valued and celebrated.

In conclusion, my journey shaped by Asian heritage embodies a deep sense of cultural pride, a commitment to community engagement, and a relentless pursuit of artistic excellence. Through my experiences and endeavors, I seek to inspire others, bridge cultural divides, and contribute to a more inclusive and diverse society. My heritage remains a guiding light, propelling me forward with purpose, resilience, and a profound appreciation for the richness of Asian culture. – Johnny Huynh

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:: stream/purchase “GOOD AS YOU” here ::
:: connect with Johnny Huynh here ::
Watch: “GOOD AS YOU” – Johnny Huynh



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GOOD AS YOU - Johnny Huynh

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