HONG KONG (AP) — Fans of singer and songwriter Coco Lee, who was known for her powerful voice and live performances, were gathering with flowers to pay their respects to their idol at her funeral in Hong Kong on Monday.
The evening services were expected to be attended by her family, friends and supporters. Lee died July 5 at age 48.
She was born in Hong Kong and attended school in San Francisco before releasing her first album in 1994 at age 19. She began her career as a Mandopop singer but branched out to release albums in Cantonese and English.
She was the first Chinese singer to break into the American market, and her English song “Do You Want My Love” climbed to #4 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Breakouts chart in December 1999. In 2001, she sang “A Love Before Time” from Ang Lee’s movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” at the Academy Awards, becoming the first Chinese American to perform at the Oscars.
Lee was also the voice of heroine Fa Mulan in the Mandarin version of Disney’s “Mulan,” and sang the Mandarin version of the movie’s theme song “Reflection.”
Lee was married to Bruce Rockowitz, former CEO of Hong Kong supply chain company Li & Fung. She had two stepdaughters.
Her death had shocked fans. Her siblings posted on Facebook that she had depression for years and had attempted suicide at home on July 2. She died a few days later.
On Monday afternoon, more than 100 fans dressed in black were waiting outside the funeral home.
Lin Jing, a fan from Fujian province in the southeast, said she admired Lee’s smile and appearance, adding: “She was really talented. She always tried to improve and she inspired women to feel independent.”
In a video for her memorial service, actors and singers from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan recalled their memories with Lee and mourned her death.
Action star Jackie Chan said in the video that everyone was proud of her when she sang at the Oscars.
“To friends like us, Coco was a passionate and kind friend who showed care to us. She was really a good person. That’s why we are so reluctant to accept she has left us,” he said.
Award-winning director Ang Lee recalled his exchanges with the late singer before the Oscars and said it was a pity she died so young. “We miss her very much. Coco, rest in peace,” he said in the video.
In Coco Lee’s recent social media posts, she kept spreading positivity. In March, she posted about having to relearn how to walk after undergoing surgery for an old leg injury.
“Successful surgery. Even though I’m in a lot of pain and I have to re-learn how to walk again, I know I can do it,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Yes I can and I will!”
Associated Press video journalist Alice Fung and news assistant Annie Cheung contributed to this report.
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