CoCo Lee, the internationally acclaimed vocalist and lyricist, who was also the Mandarin voice for the protagonist in Disney’s animated movie Mulan, passed away at a Hong Kong hospital on Wednesday at 48. Her sisters Nancy and Carol Lee expressed on social media that the singer committed suicide on Sunday due to depression that she had been dealing with for a while, which got worse in recent months.
The multilingual singer from Hong Kong gained considerable success throughout Asia and released eighteen studio albums. Breaking a barrier in 2001, Lee became the first individual of Chinese descent to take the stage at the Academy Awards with her acclaimed version of “A Love Before Time,” a track featured in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, that was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. At the red carpet, Lee shared, “In the music industry, Asian artists haven’t made a splash yet, and hopefully, I can change that. It’s going to be hard for the initial one, but over time, we’ll be able to pull it off.”
CoCo Lee’s fame extended beyond her work in the film, “A Love Before Time”. Not only did she sing the theme song, “Reflection”, for the Mandarin version of Mulan, she also delivered “Before I Fall In Love” from the Julia Roberts and Richard Gere romantic comedy Runaway Bride.
Furthermore, Lee made a name for herself internationally, particularly with her English-language albums and singles, such as “Do You Want My Love”, which charted in both the U.S. and Australia. Moreover, she was also chosen as a Chanel brand ambassador in 2001.
Concert promoter Terry Pan states that “She had a very distinctive voice”, making it easy to recognize her. Furthermore, Lee had a special talent for interpreting R&B songs. In 2009, Pan organized a concert for Lee at the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. “Right away, you know it’s CoCo Lee,” he says.