Coco Lee, Hong Kong Singer and Songwriter Who Achieved Global Success, Passes Away at 48

Coco Lee’s Historic Achievement in the American Music Market

Coco Lee, a Hong Kong-born singer, and songwriter who enjoyed a highly successful career in Asia, tragically passed away at the age of 48, according to her siblings. The news of her death by suicide was announced on Wednesday.

In a statement shared on Facebook and Instagram, Coco Lee’s elder sisters, Carol and Nancy Lee, revealed that the star had been battling depression for several years, and her condition had significantly deteriorated over the past few months despite seeking professional help and making efforts to combat her inner demons.

Over the weekend, Lee attempted suicide at her home and was immediately rushed to the hospital, where she remained in a coma until her passing on Wednesday.

Born as Ferren Lee in Hong Kong, Coco Lee later relocated to the United States, where she attended middle and high school in San Francisco. Her journey as a singer began when she emerged as the first runner-up in a renowned annual singing competition organized by TVB in Hong Kong. At the young age of 19, she released her debut album in 1994.

While starting her career as a Mandopop singer, Coco Lee eventually expanded her repertoire to include albums in Cantonese and English, showcasing her versatility throughout her nearly three-decade-long journey. She gained recognition for her powerful voice and captivating live performances.

“In addition to her remarkable musical talent, Coco dedicated herself to paving the way for Chinese singers in the global music scene and went above and beyond to shine for the Chinese community,” her sisters expressed proudly in their social media post. “We are immensely proud of her!”

A Talent that Transcended Boundaries: Coco Lee’s Multilingual Journey

Coco Lee also made history as the first Chinese singer to break into the American market. Her English song “Do You Want My Love” peaked at #4 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Breakouts chart in December 1999.

Furthermore, she lent her voice to the character Fa Mulan in the Mandarin version of Disney’s animated film “Mulan” and performed the Mandarin rendition of the movie’s theme song, “Reflection.”

In 2011, Coco Lee tied the knot with Bruce Rockowitz, a Canadian businessman who formerly served as the CEO of Hong Kong supply chain company Li & Fung. Although she did not have children of her own, she embraced her role as a stepmother to Rockowitz’s two daughters.

Her final Instagram post, dated December 31, 2022, showcased several pictures of herself, featuring tattoos with the words “love” and “faith.” In one image, a drainage bag appeared to be taped to her body.

Love, Faith, and the Difficult Year: Coco Lee’s Final Instagram Post

“Love & Faith — my two favorite words that I hold close to my heart, words I desperately needed to navigate through this incredibly challenging year,” she wrote in the caption.

“At times, life seemed unbearable, but I embraced the spirit of a ‘female warrior’ and fearlessly confronted the obstacles head-on,” she added.

In March, Coco Lee shared a Facebook post discussing her journey of relearning how to walk after undergoing surgery for an old leg injury, which was aggravated during a dance practice in October 2022.

“Successful surgery. Although I’m experiencing considerable pain and need to regain my ability to walk, I am confident in my capabilities,” she stated. “Yes, I can and I will!”

Mandopop singer-songwriter Wang Leehom paid tribute to Coco Lee in an Instagram post, honoring her as the “greatest star” with whom everyone aspired to collaborate.

“Coco Lee shattered international barriers within the music industry, preceding any other Chinese singer,” he wrote. “Let us always remember her as a courageous trailblazer and a significant musical legend.”

Jolin Tsai, a Taiwanese singer, also expressed her condolences on Facebook, saying, “R.I.P. Your radiant smile will forever be remembered.”

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