Coco Lee, a Hong Kong-born American pop singer known for her powerful voice and her role as the Mandarin voice of Disney’s “Mulan,” passed away on Wednesday, as announced by her family. The 48-year-old singer had been battling depression in recent years, and her condition had worsened significantly over the past few months, according to her sisters Carol Lee and Nancy Lee in an Instagram post. After attempting to take her own life, she was hospitalized on Sunday but succumbed to her condition and passed away on July 5, 2023.
Born on January 17, 1975, in British-ruled Hong Kong and raised in California, Coco Lee rose to prominence in the 1990s with her strong voice, impressive vocal range, and soulful ballads. Her fluency in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English allowed her to connect with fans not only in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Taiwan but also in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Malaysia, as well as Australia.
She gained international recognition for singing the Mandarin version of the ballad “Reflection” from Disney’s “Mulan” and recorded “A Love Before Time” for the soundtrack of the martial arts film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” directed by Ang Lee. She made history as the first singer of Chinese descent to perform at the Academy Awards when she sang the Best Original Song-nominated track at the 2001 ceremony.
In 1999, Coco Lee released her first full English-language album, “Just No Other Way,” featuring R&B-influenced hits like “Do You Want My Love.” The song “Before I Fall in Love” from the album became the theme song for the romantic comedy “Runaway Bride” starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.
In her last Instagram post, Coco Lee shared photos of her arm tattoos that read “love” and “faith,” which held significant meaning for her. She expressed her determination to carry these words in her heart during a challenging year. She also reassured her followers that they were not alone and that she was with them through life’s hardships.
According to her sisters, 2023 marked the 30th anniversary of Coco’s singing career. They expressed gratitude to God for blessing them with such a kind-hearted angel. Although Coco’s time in this world was short, they believe her light will continue to shine forever.