From rising star to tragic end: Remembering Coco Lee

08 Jul 2023 11:08am
Photo from @cocolee's Instagram
Photo from @cocolee's Instagram

THE news of Hong Kong singer-songwriter Coco Lee’s recent death shocked the music industry.

The Mandopop singer died at the age of 48, following a failed suicide attempt that put her in a coma, as confirmed by her sister Nancy Lee in a statement.

Throughout her life as an artiste, she indulged in fame and success, but beyond the limelight, there were constant health battles, both mentally and physically.


Born Ferren Lee on Jan 17, 1975, Lee moved to the United States with her family during her teenage years.

Upon graduating from a public high school in California, she returned to Hong Kong and then moved to Taiwan to kickstart her singing career.

In 1994, she became a breakthrough artiste in the Mandopop scene.

Years into the industry, she launched an English album and was then selected by Disney to voice Mulan (in Mandarin) and she also sang the theme song, Reflection.

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She was a rising star when Mandopop flourished in economies like China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Lee’s sisters Nancy and Carol praised her and wrote about how she opened up a world for Chinese singers in the international scene.

“She went all out to shine for the Chinese, we are proud of her,” they wrote in a statement.

At the peak of her career, she also performed at the 73rd Academy Awards to sing “A Love Before Time”, the stirring theme song from the highly acclaimed film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.


Lee tied the knot with Canadian businessman Bruce Rockowitz in 2011, but there was soon trouble in paradise following news of Rockowitz’ alleged affairs with other women.

His lack of presence in Lee’s life further fueled speculation that the two had split, but neither of them confirmed or denied it. The couple never had children, as Lee struggled with infertility. However, Rockowitz has two daughters from his previous marriage.

To this day, Lee’s family has yet to address their marriage situation.


Lee had been suffering mentally, having fought depression for years, as her sisters revealed.

But in addition to suffering from depression, Lee was also recovering from major surgery on her leg and pelvis to fix a congenital disability. She posted about it on her social media earlier this year.

The surgery left her needing to learn to walk again.

As she struggled with infertility, Lee had opted for In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) in hopes of getting pregnant. She often talked about it with the media.

"The process is very difficult. I really admire women who have to go through this challenge. You have to take the shot for 10 to 14 days, but I had to take it for three weeks because my body didn't respond. I had to take more injections than other women, and it was very painful."

Meanwhile, South Korean-born producer and composer Jae Chong, based in the United States, also revealed that Coco Lee also battled breast cancer a few months before she died.

On his Instagram, Jae added that Coco was secretly fighting breast cancer, but she chose not to reveal it, not wanting her loved ones, especially her mother, to worry.

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