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Leehom Wang

© Lomomars
Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0 ]
Wang Leehom (born May 17, 1976), sometimes credited as Leehom Wang, is a Chinese-American singer-songwriter, record producer, actor and film director. He is currently based in Taiwan. Formally trained at the Eastman School of Music, Williams College and Berklee College of Music, his musical style is known for fusing Chinese elements (such as Beijing opera, traditional styles of ethnic minorities, Chinese classical orchestra) with hip-hop and R&B. Wang has been active since 1995 and contributed in 25 albums. He is also a four-time winner of Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards, the "Grammys" of Taiwanese music. His concert at the Beijing Bird's Nest on April 14, 2012 was the first solo pop concert to be held at the venue. In addition to his music, Wang also acted in several films, including Ang Lee's Lust, Caution and Jackie Chan's film Little Big Soldier. He is an environmental activist, and his album Change Me was dedicated to raising eco-awareness among Chinese youth. Wang was one of the first torchbearers for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, and performed in the Olympics' closing ceremony in Beijing. He was again a torchbearer for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, making him the only person in the Mandarin pop circle to have taken part in the event twice. He is a longtime ambassador for World Vision Taiwan and was appointed World Vision Malaysia's 15th anniversary ambassador (from October 2011 to September 2012). He was listed as one of Goldsea's "The 100 Most Inspiring Asian Americans of All Time". Life and music career Childhood and early beginnings Born in Rochester, New York, Wang is the second of three sons of immigrants from Taiwan of waishengren heritage. His father, a pediatrician, and his mother, moved to the United States to further their college studies in the early 1960s. Influenced by his older brother, Leo Wang, who had been taking violin lessons since he was seven, Wang began to develop a curious interest towards the violin and its musical counterparts when he was three. He begged his mother to put him in violin lessons with his brother but his mother was against it, reasoning that he was too young. When Wang turned six, his mother enrolled him in violin classes, performing along with his brother. As he became a teenager, he began taking piano lessons, also teaching himself the guitar. He also worked several jobs to earn money to buy a second hand drum kit. He attended Jefferson Road Elementary School, Pittsford Middle School, and Pittsford Sutherland High School in Pittsford, New York. He graduated from Pittsford Sutherland. Passionate for a career in music, he chose to attend Williams College double majoring in music and Asian studies. He joined an all-male a cappella group, The Springstreeters, and the group recorded several demo tracks. In the summer of 1995, while Wang was visiting his grandparents in Taiwan, he was offered a professional recording contract by Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) after he participated in a talent competition hosted by the label. Not wanting to lose the opportunity, he immediately began preparing for his debut, and released his debut album Love Rival, Beethoven (情敌贝多芬) that December. The record received little limelight, forcing him to leave the label. He signed with Decca Records the following year, a label then famous for producing "powerful singers" (實力派歌手) in Taiwan. Wanting to also have control in the idol market, the label initially planned to market Wang as the mainstream "romantic idol", like with their previous artist Mavis Fan. However, after discovering Wang's talent in music-making, Decca began promoting him as Taiwan's "quality idol" (優質偶像) instead. Wang released his second album If You Heard My Song in 1996, which included some of his own compositions. He co-wrote the album's eponymous title song, which earned positive responses from the audience. The album drew moderately successful sales, and he became a rising star in the idol market, also finding similar successes with his third and fourth albums. During this time, Wang was asked to leave his college studies to pursue a full-time singing career, but he insisted on finishing school first. Rise to prominence Wang's contract with Decca Records was terminated after the release of his fourth album White Paper in the summer of 1997. After graduating with honors at Williams College, he released his first award-winning album Revolution under Sony Music Entertainment in August 1998. The album became his breakthrough album, immediately selling over 10,000 domestic units in the first week of release. Critics rated the album highly, and it won Wang two Golden Melody Awards—Best Producer and Best Mandarin Male Singer. He was the youngest artist to win in either of the two categories. Wang has been nominated the Best Mandarin Male Singer at the awards every year since the success of Revolution. The singles of Revolution also achieved similar success–"Revolution" became Wang Leehom's first No. 1 single, becoming one of the top 20 songs of the year on Channel V Taiwan. He continued his studies by attending Berklee College of Music's Professional Music program, with voice as his principal instrument. In 1999, Wang released his sixth album Impossible to Miss You, which combined the catchy pop melodies of Revolution with a quirky style of new-found dance pop. It became his then best-selling album, selling over 1 million copies. All of the album's promotional singles topped KTV charts and yearly music charts, notably the upbeat "Julia" and the ballad "Crying Palm". His album also attracted international attention–Wang won three Best Male Vocalist awards at three different award ceremonies and was also awarded for his musical merit in the album at the 1st annual Asia Chinese Music Awards. At the beginning of the millennium, Wang began filming for several Cantonese-language Hong Kong blockbusters, which inspired him to study the Cantonese language. He included a Cantonese track, "Love My Song," in the Hong Kong release of Forever's First Day (2000), his seventh album. Unlike his previous two albums, Forever's First Day consisted mainly of melodic R&B tunes. The album's eponymous single is a tragic romantic ballad, speaking of a separation of two individuals. Although raised in New York for most of his life, living in Taiwan made Wang realize the deep roots of his Chinese heritage. Forever's First Day yielded a cover of his uncle's signature song "Descendants of the Dragon"; Wang re-arranged the song with heavier rock and dance elements. The song also included a rap bridge that summarized experiences of his parents living as a Chinese American in New York. International success Wang's next album, The One and Only (2001) received phenomenal international success. Selling over 1 million units in Asia, the rock-inspired album won him over seven different prestigious awards throughout 2001 and 2002. The album's title single "The One and Only" peaked No. 1 in almost all available music charts of Taiwan and was on the Ringback Tone No. 1 Download Charts for over a year, becoming his signature song. The One and Only also found success in Japan, opting him to release his first full-length Japanese album The Only One on May 9, 2003. The album only promoted one single, a Japanese version of "The One and Only", but it did not meet success on Japan's Oricon Charts. Wang also began filming several Japanese films, establishing his rising star status in Japan. Eager to experience and perform different musical genres, Wang embarked on his first Asia-wide concert tour The Unbelievable Tour a few months before the release of his ninth album Unbelievable (2003). His concert tour received great reviews from both fans and music critics; they were impressed and shocked with his new-found hip hop image. His R&B/hip hop-inspired album Unbelievable involved new urban pop numbers, drawing hip hop influences from different styles of popular music, such as Indipop and urban pop. The album marked a milestone in his musical career; his new image received international critical acclaim and the album a chart-topping success, selling over 1.5 million units by 2004. Musical style Wang's music varies in style greatly from album to album. Although he is classified as an R&B artist, Wang Leehom demonstrates competence with many styles of music ranging from traditional Mandopop, Broadway, jazz, rock, R&B, gospel, acoustic, Indipop, hip-hop, to rap. Many of the styles are infused with a Chinese flavor. When he debuted, he sang old school pop and acoustic R&B ballads. Starting from Revolution, Wang began to test out R&B pop music, but quickly jumped to a quirky style of dance pop for Impossible to Miss You. Starting from Forever's First Day, he began composing rock songs with heavy electric guitar melodies and less emphasis on dance pop. Nonetheless, he still concentrated in light R&B music. The One and Only became his only fully produced rock album. Unbelievable began a new road of music for Wang. Aside from the usual R&B grove, he contributed hip hop and rap that was not clearly emphasized in his past albums. "Not Your Average Thug" was a newly composed R&B style with a huge amount of American influence. "Can You Feel My World" was a different style of R&B, and the song contained great uses of the piano and violin as the accompaniment. Acting career Wang had displayed interest in acting when he starred in several musical plays when he was in high school and college. In 2000, he made his feature film debut in the Hong Kong action crime thriller, China Strike Force, starring alongside Aaron Kwok, Norika Fujiwara, and Ruby Lin. Hong Kong critics had remarked Wang for giving a well-toned performance as his first film. His next starring role was the 2001 Hong Kong science fiction film The Avenging Fist as the main character Nova. He then starred in two Japanese films Moon Child (2003) and Starlit High Noon (2005). The major breakthrough in his film career was in Lust, Caution, directed and produced by Academy Award winner Ang Lee. The film is based on a novella written by Eileen Chang and revolves around a plot to assassinate a high-ranking Chinese official in the Wang Jingwei Government using a beautiful young woman as bait. Wang plays Kuang Yumin, a patriotic college student who persuades Wong Chia-chi (Tang Wei) to seduce Mr. Yee (Tony Leung). The film was released in the US cinemas on September 28, 2007. Lust, Caution was produced on a budget of approximately $15 million and grossed $64,574,876 worldwide. In 2009, Wang was selected to star with Jackie Chan in Little Big Soldier. In 2010, Wang stepped behind the camera to direct and star in, Love in Disguise, also starring Liu Yifei and Joan Chen. Love in Disguise went on to become the highest grossing film for a first-time director in Chinese history grossing over 60,000,000 RMB domestically. Wang co-starred with Chris Hemsworth and Tang Wei in Blackhat (2015), an action thriller film on cybercrime which was written, directed and produced by Michael Mann. In July 2013, Wang was announced to be starring in an adaptation of Stan Lee's Annihilator. The film is a co-production between Magic Storm Entertainment, who partners with Stan Lee's POW! Entertainment banner and the Chinese state-run National Film Capital. Personal life On November 27, 2013, Wang married Japanese-Taiwanese girlfriend, Lee Jing Lei. Their first child, a daughter, was born in July 2014. 

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