Talk Asia-Jacky Cheung

Airdate: November 20th, 2004

LH: Lorraine Hahn (前CNN主播)
JC: Jacky Cheung 张学友

LH: This week on TalkAsia, a Hong Kong superstar whose soulful songs melt hearts across the world. This is TalkAsia.

Welcome to TalkAsia, I'm Lorraine Hahn, my guest this week is Hong Kong superstar Jacky Cheung. It all began with a singing competition in 1984, beating 10,000 contestants; Cheung walked away with first prize and was snapped up by a record label. His breakthrough came in 1991 with the mega-Canto-pop hit 'Loving you a little more every day'. Two years later, Cheung became the first Hong Kong singer to win over the lucrative mandarin-speaking market, with the album 'Goodbye kiss'. Since then, he's been showered with multiple singing accolades. And as if releasing more then 60 albums so far isn't enough, Cheung has appeared in dozens of films to critical acclaim. Music critics say that at 43, Cheung is without doubt one of the four if not quote 'the heavenly king' of canto-pop. Jacky joins me now to tell me how he does it and much much more...

LH: It's good to see you thank you very much for coming in

JC: No, I've been looking forward to talking

LH: Why do you think you have continued to endure and be as popular as you are -- for so long?

JC: I don't know. Well, the one theory that I believe is that you have to keep working. Well, as in artist people just look at the work. New people might love your new things and some people might love the old things, so you've got to keep doing something, keep exploring yourself.

LH: You know there's so much new talent coming into the markets these days, is that a concern for you? Does that mean you have to be more on the ball, more on the edge?

JC: Why, I mean, once I was new to the other singing sections, now I'm one of the very...(LH: veteran. Laughs) senior -- senior singer, ok?! -- so, that's quite normal to me actually. And I think the scenes need more new blood.

LH: You are known for your ballads, the songs that you sing...(JC: I sing fast number. Laughs LH: Yes, you know) I don't know why but you seem to be associated with, you know, these slow, romantic songs Why is this? Does it reflect you as a person more so than the fast pumping songs?

JC: I think the first thing is I didn't dance as good as Aaron Kwok, that's why! And secondly I think I did have a few very, very popular ballad songs and that's why (LH: People associate with that) people might easier associate me with that.

LH: You have also very successfully broken into the mandarin-speaking market -- Taiwan and then China -- was it difficult to make that transition?

JC: It's not why...I have little advantage, because I was brought up in a mandarin-speaking family actually -- yeh my family is from Tianjin. So my Grandma is speaking mandarin only

LH: You've done different fast songs, rap albums, an English album to you name as well -- why the diversity, is it a challenge for you or...?

JC: I love to keep moving actually, that's why I've been trying different things. I believe in that, it keeps me alive. I mean, as I said, you need to explore yourself, find more about yourself and try more new things that keep you alive. That's why I'm doing...and I still believe in this, that's why I'm still doing it.

LH: In your last album you wrote all the songs, correct? (JC: Yes. Laughs LH: Wow) I mean, why write, why start writing?

JC: It's all because of...ok, for a certain time there was a feel quite lost in the market and what am I going to do? Ok, if you consider the kind of market -- what kind of album can sell in the market now? There might be a lot of reason for not very ideal market sales now, there might be a lot of reason. One thing I think is you really need to be yourself in the market. That's why I started to write something. The best way to tell people who you are is to write something about yourself, and tell them about yourself. So I started writing some lyrics and some songs.

LH: And you dedicated one of them to friends, your very close friends right -- Anita Mui(梅艳芳) and Leslie Cheung(张国荣)-- who both passed away?

JC: Well, this is uhh...I think 2003 is quite a terrible year for many people in Hong Kong, of course, in our scenes we lost quite a few friends, actually. It affected me a bit and I just reflected in my album

LH: If you had person in this world -- anyone in this world -- who would you sing with?

JC: Elton John

LH: Elton John? Wow, you know I interviewed him recently, right? When he was in Hong Kong. Yeh, he's wonderful. Why Elton John?

JC: Well, he used to be my idol for so many years, actually, since I was in my teenage. And he's still standing there remember his song "I'm still standing", he's been struggling and this is the way I look into life. He's great, he can hold a concert without any other musicians, just give him piano he can sit there sing for three hours (LH: or even more, hit after hit)

LH: Jacky, we're going to take a very short break. Just ahead on TalkAsia, a clip of Jacky's breakout role, and his earlier days. That's coming up.