Faye Wong (born 8 August 1969) is a Chinese singer-songwriter and actress, often referred to as a “diva” (Chinese: 天后; literally: “Heavenly Queen”) in Chinese-language media. Early in her career she briefly used the stage name Shirley Wong. Born in Beijing, she moved to British Hong Kong in 1987 and came to public attention in the early 1990s by singing ballads in Cantonese. Since 1994 she has recorded mostly in her native Mandarin, often combining alternative music with mainstream Chinese pop. In 2000 she was recognised by Guinness World Records as the Best Selling Canto-Pop Female. Following her second marriage in 2005 she withdrew from the limelight, but returned to the stage in 2010 amidst immense interest in the Sinophone world.

Hugely popular in Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, she has also gained a large following in Japan. In the West she is perhaps best known for starring in Wong Kar-wai’s films Chungking Express and 2046.While she has collaborated with international artists such as Cocteau Twins, Wong recorded only a few songs in English, including “Eyes on Me” – the theme song of the video game Final Fantasy VIII. Wong is known to be reserved in public, and has gained a reputation for her “coolness”.In Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture, Jeroen de Kloet characterised her as “singer, actress, mother, celebrity, royalty, sex symbol and diva all at the same time”.

The daughter of a mining engineer and a revolutionary music soprano, Wong Fei was born in Beijing in the midst of China’s Cultural Revolution.

As a student, Wong already was involved in singing and attracted interest from several publishers. Despite her mother’s opposition, Wong released 6 low-cost cover albums from 1985 to 1987 while still in high school, all in the form of cassettes, mostly consisting of songs by her personal idol, iconic Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng. For the last of these early recordings, the producer Wei Yuanqiang chose the title Wong Fei Collection, intending to show that he recognised a distinctive talent in the teenager.

In 1987, after being accepted to Xiamen University for college, she migrated to Hong Kong to join her father, who had been working there for a few years. The plan was for her to stay there for a year to fulfill the permanent residency requirement, and go to a university abroad thereafter.

Personal life

In the early 1990s, Wong began a relationship with Dou Wei, a Beijing rocker of the band “Black Panther” who was much more famous in Mainland China. In June 1996, the couple married. Their daughter, Dou Jingtong (竇靖童, meaning “child of Dou and Jing” [from Wong’s given name Jingwen]) was born on 3 January 1997. The baby’s voice appears in the song “Tong” on the 1998 album Sing and Play (唱遊), as well as the title track of the album Lovers & Strangers (只愛陌生人) released in 1999. They divorced in late 1999 with Wong claiming the rights to the daughter and waiving child support.

After ending a May–December relationship with Nicolas Tse, Wong began dating Mainland television actor Li Yapeng in 2004 in Beijing; their wedding took place in July 2005. Around the time of her wedding, her manager confirmed that she might take an indefinite break from the entertainment business.Their daughter, Li Yan, was born on 27 May 2006. In January 2011, appearing for the first time with her husband on a talk show, Wong told host Yang Lan that the past 5 years of her married life has been “very steady, very satisfying”. On September 13, 2013, Wong and Li announced that they had divorced.

On 21 September 2014, Katie Chan confirmed that Wong and Nicholas Tse resumed dating after they had gone their separate ways 11 years prior. Chan refuted rumors that Wong was pregnant with Tse’s child.

Legacy

In 2004 and 2005 Faye Wong was ranked in the top 5 on the Forbes China Celebrity 100, as well as in 2011 and 2012 after her hiatus. In a 2011 “most popular celebrity in China” marketing study she was also ranked in the top 5. In 2009, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, a government web portal conducted an online poll on The Most Influential Chinese Cultural Celebrity in the Past 60 Years; out of 192 candidates, Wong received over 7 million votes, second only to the deceased Teresa Teng from Taiwan, Wong’s own personal idol. Chen Tao, a China Radio International DJ, compares Wong’s influence in the Sinophone world to Madonna’s in America: “She represents a certain era of pop music, a certain trend, and a vision of being unique.” Beijing-based scholar Wang Dong also believes Wong’s popularity reflects a social phenomenon broader than entertainment itself, as people identify themselves through Wong due to her image of being unique.

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