Hong Kong-born American singer Coco Lee died at 48 on Wednesday following a suicide attempt that left her in a coma, Lee’s two sisters, Carol and Nancy Lee, said in a statement posted on Instagram and Facebook.
Lee died in Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, where she had been living.
“Although Coco sought professional help and did her best to fight depression, sadly that demon inside of her took the better of her,” the statement said.
“On 2 July, she committed suicide at home and was sent to the hospital. Despite the best efforts of the hospital team to rescue and treat her from her coma, she finally passed away on 5 July, 2023,” the statement said.
Lee’s career spanned around 30 years. Among her most notable performances were voicing of the female warrior Mulan in the Mandarin-language version of Disney’s “Mulan” and performing the Oscar-nominated song “A Love Before Time” from the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
She was born in Hong Kong in 1975 and was the youngest of three children of a Hong Kong Cantonese mother and Malaysian father.
Lee was hugely popular in China and Taiwan, especially in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and her death prompted an outpouring of grief in both and wall to wall news coverage in Taiwan.
One of the most read hashtags on her death generated 200 million readings on China’s Twitter-like Weibo microblogging site.
“Will miss you forever. Miss your beautiful singing, your hearty laugh and your pretty smile,” wrote one Chinese fan.
Lee’s father passed away before she was born, and by the age of 9 her mother had moved Lee and her sisters to the United States, to San Francisco.
After graduating high school in 1992, she was offered a recording contract in Hong Kong with Capital Artists, eventually leading her to depart from her studies at the University of California, Irvine, to focus on her music career.
In 1996, Lee signed with Sony Music Entertainment and her debut album, “Coco Lee,” became the best-selling album of that year in Asia.
It wasn’t long before Lee gained fans in both Asia and the United States, which began her path to new collaborations and English-language songs.
She recorded 18 studio albums and appeared in three films, most notably Lee Xin’s “Master of Everything” and “No Tobacco” by Stanley Kwan.
In 2011, Lee married Bruce Rockowitz, a Canadian businessman who is the former CEO of the Hong Kong supply chain company Li & Fung. He survives her, as do her sisters and two stepdaughters.
See the family’s post on Instagram below: