Dick Lee

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Dick Lee
Chinese name李迪文
PinyinLǐ Díwén (Mandarin)
Jyutpinglei5 di2 man4 (Cantonese)
OriginHokkien (Fujian Province)
Born(1956-08-24) August 24, 1956 (age 57)
Singapore
Other name(s)Richard Lee Peng Boon
OccupationSinger, composer, songwriter, playwright
Genre(s)Cantopop, musical theatre
Years active1971–present
Official Websitewww.dicklee.com
 
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Dick Lee
Chinese name李迪文
PinyinLǐ Díwén (Mandarin)
Jyutpinglei5 di2 man4 (Cantonese)
OriginHokkien (Fujian Province)
Born(1956-08-24) August 24, 1956 (age 57)
Singapore
Other name(s)Richard Lee Peng Boon
OccupationSinger, composer, songwriter, playwright
Genre(s)Cantopop, musical theatre
Years active1971–present
Official Websitewww.dicklee.com

Richard "Dick" Lee Peng Boon (born 24 August 1956) is a Singaporean pop singer, composer, songwriter, and playwright. He is best known as a Singapore Idol judge, but often too as spokesperson for the New Asian generation.

He was born to a Peranakan father, Lee Kip Lee, (who writes for The Straits Times), and a Chinese mother, Elizabeth Tan. He was the eldest child in the family of five, with three brothers and a deceased sister. He received his early education at St. Michael's School (now SJI Junior) and his secondary education at St. Joseph's Institution. In 1992, he married jazz singer Jacintha Abisheganaden and divorced a few years later. He is a Roman Catholic.

Career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Dick Lee started his career in 1971 when, at the age of fifteen, Dick participated in various talent contests with the group, Harmony, and Dick and the Gang (teaming with his siblings). His first album, Life Story, featuring his compositions, was released in 1974.

Throughout the 70s and 80s, Dick championed the acceptance of Asian elements in pop music. His pioneering album, Life In The Lion City (1984), won acclaim for just that. But the album that shot him to regional prominence was his 1989 release, The Mad Chinaman. Dick has also won several awards in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.

The 90s[edit]

In 1990, Dick moved to Japan where he continued to develop the new Asian identity through his solo work, as well as collaborations with top Asian artistes like Sandy Lam from Hong Kong and Japanese group Zoo. He has to date, written countless songs for the top singing talents in Asia.

Dick's album, Transit Lounge, released under the Sony Label, won both critical and popular praise during the same time when he was also the regional Vice-President of Artiste and Repertoire for Sony Music Asia, based in Hong Kong from 1998 to 2000. Dick's most recent album, Everything, released in November 2000, features a rare collection of his works written since the 1970s. In December 2001, Dick and his friend Leonard T contributed a song in a Charity CD - Love Is The Answer For Kids With Aids, KK Outreach for Kids Fund. The song tile "It All Begins With Love" is heard frequently in Singapore's radio stations.

Plays and musicals[edit]

Dick is also passionate about musicals. He has written many staged musicals including Beauty World (1988), Fried Rice Paradise (1991), Kampong Amber (1994), Sing to the Dawn (1996), Hotpants (1997), Jacky Cheung's acclaimed Snow.Wolf.Lake (1997), Nagraland (1992), Puteri Gunung Ledang (musical)(2006) and P Ramlee (musical) (2007) toured Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong in a sold-out season. Dick continues his love for theatre by being Associate Artiste Director of the Singapore Repertory Theatre, an appointment he has held since 1998.

For 2000, Dick composed the songs to the musical of Phua Chu Kang, a highly popular sitcom, for the Singapore President’s Star Charity Drive. Produced and broadcast by Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS), now known as Mediacorp Studios (MCS), the musical raised over a record-setting $2 million.

In 2002 he wrote and co-directed his first dance musical re:MIX for Singapore Repertory Theatre Young Company (SRT Young Company), as well as a specially commissioned work, Forbidden City: Portrait of An Empress, one of the highlights of Singapore’s prestigious new cultural centre, The Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay opening festival in October that year and a popular re-run in September 2003, and again in 2006. It was directed by Steven Dexter and will go on a world tour in 2008, first stop London's West End.

New millennium[edit]

A dream come true for Dick was to be appointed the Creative Director for Singapore’s 2002 National Day Parade. Coincidentally, his song We Will Get There was selected to be 2002 theme song for the parade. Top Singapore-born Chinese pop superstar Stefanie Sun performed the song and also included it in her own top-selling album. This was his second National Day theme song, having written Home, performed by Kit Chan, in 1998.

In 2003, he penned the English lyrics of Treasure The World, the image song of J-ASEAN campaign by The Japan Foundation. Artistes from Japan and 10 ASEAN countries recorded this song for the campaign in English and their respective native languages. In July 2003, the highest honour to Dick’s works came in the form of the prestigious Fukuoka Arts and Culture Prize, an award by the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes committee to recognise an individual’s substantial contributions to the arts scene in Asia.

Lee wrote an autobiography, The Adventures of the Mad Chinaman, in 2004.

In 2004, he joined Singapore Idol as a judge alongside fellow Singaporeans Florence Lian and Ken Lim. He also returned as a judge for Singapore Idol for the second and third seasons in 2006 and 2009 respectively.

On 17 December and 18 December 2004, Lee held a 30th anniversary concert, titled Life Stories at the Kallang Theatre. Guest stars included Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah and runner up Sylvester Sim, Kumar, ex-wife Jacintha, Koh Chieng Mun, Hossan Leong, and others.

In 2009, he penned the theme song for the APEC Singapore 2009 summit which was performed in front of world leaders such as Barack Obama by Kit Chan during the Singapore Evening at the APEC Singapore 2009 summit on November 14, 2009 at the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. He was also the director of the 30-minute musical extravaganza involving 376 Singaporean artistes in a concert extravaganza enhanced by multimedia projections.[1]

In 2010, Dick was the Creative Director of Singapore's 44th National Day Parade.

In 2011, Dick returned with The Adventures of the Mad Chinaman, a concert, and Beauty Kings, an original comedy play.[2]

In 2012, Dick Lee opened MAD (Modern Asian Diner) in Singapore. It is a 5 way partnership with 4 other homegrown local companies namely Tung Lok group, Bakerzin, Bar Stories and Top Wines.

Fashion Interest[edit]

Apart from music, Dick’s other passion is for fashion, having studied fashion design at Harrow School of Art in London. His interest began at the early age of 16 when he designed for his mother’s boutique Midteen.

His fashion career has taken him to Carrie Models, where he scouted and trained the top Singapore models, and designing his own labels for his boutique Ping Pong, as well as in Hemispheres, the first young designer store he set up with a partner.

Other forays in the fashion world include Display Director for Tangs departmental store in 1984, fashion editor of Female magazine in 1986 and one of the founders of the Society of Designing Arts, which spearheaded the introduction of Singapore designers to the local fashion market.

From 1982–1990, Dick also ran his own event company Runway Productions, which specialized in fashion and tourism events. His company also had a hand in the creation of the Boom Boom Room, a successful cabaret featuring the now renowned talents of drag comedian Kumar.

In January 2004, his composition Sandarken won the Best Malay Pop from the COMPASS Awards.

On the platform of his musical talent, Dick has always been actively involved in fund-raising projects for several beneficiaries including Singapore Repertory Theatre, KK Children’s Hospital, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Church of St Ignatius.

Achievements[edit]

YearAchievement
1995The Perfect 10 Music Achievement Award for outstanding contribution in the Singapore Music scene, by Singapore's leading radio station, Perfect 10.
1996Best Original Theme Song in the Golden Horse Awards for his song, The Search of My Life, which was selected as the theme song for the hit movie, He is a Woman, She is a Man, starring Leslie Cheung and Anita Yuen.
1998Received the awards for Top Local English Pop Song and Top Local Composer of the Year in the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore Ltd (Compass) Awards.

He composed the song Home which was selected to be the National Day Theme Song.

1999Best Original Movie Theme Song in the Hong Kong Academy Awards for the theme song of the movie The City of Glass, starring Leon Lai and Shu Qi.

Awarded three top accolades in the Compass Awards for:

  • COMPASS Artiste Excellence Award
  • Top Local Chinese Pop Song
  • Top Local Composer of the Year 1999
2000Released English album "Everything." under Sony Music

Top Local Composer of the Year in the COMPASS Awards 2000

2001Top Local Composer of the Year in the COMPASS Awards 2001
2002He composed the song We Will Get There which was selected to be the National Day Theme Song.
2003Fukuoka Asian Culture Awards: Arts Award.

COMPASS Award for top Malay song

2005Cultural Medallion Award Winner
2006Top Local Composer of the Year in the COMPASS Awards 2006

"Puteri Gunung Ledang (musical) The Musical" in which he composed the music, premiered at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur on 7 until 26 February 2006.

2007"P Ramlee The Musical" in which he composed the music, premiered at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur on 18 October 2007 and ran until 3 November 2007.
2008"P Ramlee The Musical" ran for a second season in Kuala Lumpur and made its Singapore premiere on 17 May 2008.
2009Directed Singapore Evening at The Esplanade concert for world leaders such as American President Barack Obama during the APEC Singapore 2009 summit

Wrote the theme song for the APEC Singapore 2009 summit.

2010Fried Rice Paradise re-staged by the People's Association for its 50th Anniversary.

Creative Director for Singapore's 45th National Day Parade

2011Dick Lee to chair 2011's Audi Fashion Festival.

Staging The Adventures of the Mad Chinaman and Beauty Kings.

Discography[edit]

YearAlbum
1974Life Story
1979Single - Internationaland
1984Life In The Lion City

Surirum
Bumboat!

1985Fried Rice Paradise
1986The Songs From Long Ago
1988Connections
1989The Mad Chinaman

When I Play

1990Asiamajor
1991Orientalism
1993The Year of The Monkey

Peace Life Love
Life Story
Hong Kong Rhapsody

1994Compass
1995Secret Island
1996Singapop
1999Transit Lounge
2000Everything
2003Rice
2004Life (Compilation English album)
2004Stories (Compilation Chinese album)
2010Life Deluxe

References[edit]

External links[edit]