HONG KONG (AP) — Singer and songwriter Coco Lee was being mourned by family and friends at a private ceremony Tuesday, a day after fans paid their respects at a public memorial for the Hong Kong-born entertainer who had international success.
Sobs were heard when pallbearers marched solemnly with her coffin inside the funeral hall before her cremation. Lee, who died July 5 at age 48, was known for her powerful voice and live performances.
On Monday, scores of fans dressed in black had waited outside the funeral hall in the summer heat, with some carrying flowers. The public memorial service was also attended by her relatives and friends, including singers Elva Hsiao and Jenny Tseng.
Lin Jing, a fan from Fujian province in southeast China, 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.”
Inside the funeral hall, three pink hearts made of flowers and other floral decorations were displayed below Lee’s photo.
Her close friend, Hsiao, said during the ceremony that she remembered watching Lee’s performances as a student and thinking of her as a perfect idol. After they became friends in the entertainment industry, Lee encouraged Hsiao when she was lost and treated her as “a little sister.”
“She brightened my life with her happiness and bravery. I will keep preserving her spirit,” Hsiao said in a quavering voice.
In a video for the 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.
Lee was the first Chinese singer to break into the American market, and her English song “Do You Want My Love” was a 1999 dance hit. 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.”
She was married to Bruce Rockowitz, a Canadian business executive in Hong Kong, and had two stepdaughters.
Associated Press video journalist Alice Fung and news assistant Annie Cheung contributed to this report.
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