Coco Lee, a Chinese-American singer and songwriter best known for performing an Oscar-nominated song in the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” died on Wednesday. She was 48.
The cause was suicide, according to a statement from her sisters, Carol and Nancy Lee, who did not say where she died. Ms Lee was taken to hospital on Sunday after she attempted suicide at her home, they said.
“Coconut has been suffering from depression for a number of years but her condition has worsened dramatically over the last few months,” her sisters wrote. “Although Coco sought professional help and did her best to fight depression, unfortunately that demon within her got the best of her.”
Ms. Lee built a successful career as a pop singer in Asia, but she was best known to American audiences for singing the song “A Love Before Time” in the 2000 film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” The song was nominated for an Oscar in the best new original song category, and she performed it in front of a television audience of millions at the Academy Awards ceremony in March 2001.
“Combining the flavor and texture of Eastern music with the orchestral color and sensitive lyrics of Western culture, the magic of this stunningly beautiful film truly comes to life in this evocative ballad,” said actress Julia Stiles as she introduced the performance of S- Ms. Lee
Her career as a recording artist began after she finished as the runner-up in a singing competition hosted by the TV broadcaster TVB in Hong Kong in 1993, shortly after she graduated from high school. Ms. Lee entered the contest on a whim, she told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2000, and found success.
“I was shy as a kid,” she said. “I would hide in the bathroom and sing in the shower. I always predicted that my older sister Nancy would be the singer. She is beautiful, talented and she has beautiful legs. I had no idea it would be me.”
But being chosen as runner-up in the TVB contest led to the release of her debut album with a Taiwanese record label in 1994. “My goal in the singing business is not to stay in one place,” she told a reporter about The South China Morning Post in 1997saying that she wanted to work in Asia and the United States
In 1999, Ms. Lee released her first full-length English-language album, “Just No Other Way,” which featured pop and R&B songs. One song, “Before I Fall In Love”, was included in the music for Julia Roberts’ film “Runaway Bride”.
The career of Ms. Lee also expanded beyond music. She voiced the main character in the Mandarin version of the animated film “Mulan” by Disney in 1998, in addition to singing the theme song of the film, “Reflection”.
Mrs. Lee, who was born on January 17, 1975 in Hong Kong, moved to the United States and attended middle and high school in San Francisco, where she was crowned Miss Teen Chinatown in 1991. She briefly attended the University of California, Irvine, intending to study biology and become a doctor, but dropped out after her freshman year, she recounted. The Chronicle.
In their statement, Ms Lee’s sisters noted that this year marked the 30th anniversary of the launch of her accomplished singing career. Ms. Lee was “known to have worked tirelessly to open up a new world for Chinese singers on the international music scene,” they wrote, highlighting her “excellent live performances.”
In addition to her sisters, the survivors of Ms. Lee includes her husband, Bruce Rockowitz, and two stepdaughters. A complete list was not immediately available.
Her latest single, called “Tragic,” was released in February. In a post to her social media in late 2022, Ms. Lee acknowledged that he had had an “incredibly difficult year” but encouraged her followers to spread positivity and “be an influential figure to inspire people.”
If you are having thoughts about suicide, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Helpline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.