Coco Lee was someone who incorporated cultural elements in her music. She started bridging the gap between East Indian and Western audiences, according to entertainment blogger Brandon Lewis. Some fans even compared her to Mariah Carey.
She has been a favorite among Chinese millennials who grew up listening to her in Mandarin and English. It was a period when the genre of Mandopop was flourishing with economies like China, Taiwan and Singapore blooming. Li-Wen, as she is known in her native country, stood out from everyone with her confidence, beautiful dance moves and colourful locks.
Her song ‘Di Da Di’ which was the Chinese version of a Danish pop song, became an instant hit and a karaoke favourite after it was played in an advertisement in mainland China.
In the early years of Coco’s career, her sister Nancy served as Lee’s public relations officer, wardrobe consultant and make-up artist. Her mother was her manager and accountant. In fact, it was Nancy who suggested the name, Coco.
As a child, Lee wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother and become a doctor. She was juggling pre-medical studies in university and her singing career for several years but she eventually left college to focus on her pop career.
In an Instagram post earlier this week, Lee’s sisters Carol and Nancy opened up about how their sister worked tirelessly to open up a new world for Chinese singers in the international music scene. “She went all out to shine for the Chinese. We are proud of her,” they wrote.
Her sudden death was a blow to fellow artists and fans who remember her for her beautiful smile and energy on stage. It also brought a conversation about mental health on social media.
‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ director Ang Lee said he was “very shocked” to hear the news, and star Jackie Chan said Lee had “such great talent and unique personal style” and was “born to be a star”.
“There will be one more star in the sky from now on,” he added.