CoCo Lee died at age 48
Chinese-American singer CoCo Lee passed away on July 5. She was 48. The singer died following a suicide attempt that left her in a coma, reported news agency Reuters.
Took her own life
Channel News Asia confirmed the news of the star’s unexpected death.
Coco Lee’s sisters break the news
Coco Lee’s sisters, Carol and Nancy Lee, shared a post addressing the singer’s demise. They wrote, “With great sadness, we are here [to] break the most devastating news: CoCo had been suffering from depression for a few years, but her condition deteriorated drastically over the last few months. Although CoCo sought professional help and did her best to fight depression, sadly, that demon inside her took the better of her.”
Revelation from family
South China Morning Post reported that CoCo Lee’s surviving family revealed on social media that the singer had been battling depression for the past few years. It was related to the fact that her overall health had declined.
Her mother tried to save her
CoCo Lee was reported to have passed from a coma after an attempt on her own life. According to The Straits Times, the singer’s death was a tragedy because her own mother, a Chinese Traditional Medicine practitioner, had made desperate attempts to save her life using acupuncture after Western doctors had given up trying to save her.
Secretly battling breast cancer
According to 8days, producer Jae Chong revealed that CoCo Lee had been battling breast cancer in addition to other health issues. This occupied the star for months before her passing. Despite revealing it to her siblings and close friends, the matter was kept a secret from not just her fans but also her mom.
Cause of death being investigated
Aside from the now-common knowledge that CoCo Lee died from an attempt to end her life, The Straits Times reports that several news outlets incorrectly claimed CoCo Lee died by cutting herself. Family members have since urged the public and news outlets to refrain from speculation while Hong Kong authorities investigate the exact cause of death.
Famous singer and ‘Mulan’ voice actress
CoCo Lee, born Ferren Lee, was a Chinese-American singer best known for her hits in Mandopop and for her impact on the American music industry as one of the scene’s most prominent singers of Asian descent. She also made important contributions to the Disney movie ‘Mulan’ as a voice actress and singer.
From Hong Kong to the US at age 9
CoCo Lee was born on January 17, 1975, in Hong Kong. According to the Los Angeles Times, she moved to the United States with her family when she was nine years old and lived in San Francisco for the majority of her life until she was offered a recording contract.
Recording contract as a teen
According to China Daily, while just fresh out of high school and while visiting Hong Kong, CoCo Lee was offered a recording contract by Capital Artists after participating in the 12th Annual New Talent Singing Awards hosted by TVB and coming out second.
Juggling singing and school
According to the same report, CoCo Lee accepted the contract, but because she needed to continue her studies, she attempted to juggle work and school while attending the University of California, Irvine.
Dropping out of school for her career
However, the juggling did not work out, as CoCo Lee eventually dropped out after her freshman year to go full-time into music instead, according to the South China Morning Post. This worked out for CoCo Lee, as she eventually became a big hit.
Debut in Mandarin and English
CoCo Lee made her debut in 1993, with the release of her first two Mandarin albums, titled ‘Love from Now On’ and ‘Promise Me’. She also demonstrated her versatility in singing in both languages, as she went on to release an English album later in 1995, titled ‘Brave Enough to Love’.
Star in Asia and switch to Sony
Lee’s music would become a big hit later in 1996 with the release of her album, ‘CoCo Lee’. It was a significant year. Not only did her album become the best-selling album in Asia at that time, but CoCo Lee also switched labels to work with Sony Music.
Coco Lee’s biggest hits
Among Coco Lee’s best hits are ‘Sunny Day’, ‘Do You Want My Love’, and ‘Reflection’.
Voice actress for ‘Mulan’
CoCo Lee’s voice may be known to many because she acted in Disney’s animated film ‘Mulan’ and voiced the Taiwanese Mandarin version of Mulan. She was also tasked with writing and singing the film’s theme song, ‘Reflection’, then in 1998, and singing it again for the live adaptation in 2020.
CoCo Lee was also active in her activism for several causes through her music. For one, she was known for releasing an anti-tobacco song, ‘From the Beginning ’til the End’ with Cantopop legend Jacky Cheung, and for singing ‘Hand in Hand’ with singers like Wang Leehom to raise funds to help those affected by the SARS epidemic.
2014: Losing her voice
The Straits Times reports that CoCo Lee once lost her voice back in 2014 due to a bout of bronchitis and several other throat complications, which led her to quit singing. However, the star made her recovery soon after, two years later, in a surprising return.
2016: Coco Lee’s return
2016 was the year of CoCo Lee’s triumphant return to music as the singer surprised many by being one of the participants of the star-studded Chinese reality singing competition ‘I Am A Singer’ and even went on to win the competition!
2022 – 2023: Health problems
CoCo Lee was relatively active in the scene until her sudden announcement of health issues in November 2022. According to Global Times, the singer revealed that she had been suffering from a birth defect that caused her to rely on her right leg to perform, which eventually affected her ability to walk and caused her to be in excruciating pain.
2023: Shocking weight loss
CoCo Lee shocked fans once again when she revealed on social media in January this year that she had lost a lot of weight due to further health complications. AsiaOne reports that the singer posted a photo with a drainage bag attached to her body. When asked for details by fans on what happened, the singer did not respond other than mentioning she’s working on her recovery.
In her final Instagram post shared last year, Coco Lee wrote a long message and discussed how she relied on “love and faith” to get through last year while calling herself a “female warrior”.
Coco Lee also shared what her goal would be in 2023 and wrote, “My goal in 2023 is to share my life story and how I faced major life-changing hurdles and still manage to keep a positive attitude. I am happy to say I am finally living the real me.”
July 2023: the last goodbye
Unfortunately, fans were not able to witness the singer get back on her feet as CoCo Lee passed away on 5 July due to mental health issues. Her death has come as a shock to the Chinese music community and her many fans around the world.