Some critics are calling her “the goddess of jazz music”, while others are comparing her voice to that of canto-pop superstar Faye Wong.
But Bianca Wu, who has been in the local music industry for nearly a decade, still has her feet firmly planted on terra firma.
“We’re not actually making big money here,” she says. “With the decline of the music industry, we’re lucky that we could still sell records and cover the cost of production for our next album.”
Lucky, indeed. Her albums sells around 10,000 copies on average, which is not bad by local standards.
Still, her friends think that, given her talent, she could achieve more fame and fortune.
Wu acknowledges that one must be a compleat performer in order to reach the peak of success.
“All the requirements of entertainment — all sorts of thrills that feed the senses from ears to eyes — must be addressed. That’s the way [the best singers of Hong Kong] captivate the audience.”
Music talents Hanjin Tan and Ivana Wong, for instance, gained more fans after performing in television dramas and movies. Would Wu consider pursuing the same path?
Wu says she welcomes all opportunities that come her way, although there’s a risk that movies could blur her identity as a singer.
Born in Chongqing, Wu spent her childhood and adolescence in Taishan in nearby Guangdong province.
She studied performing arts at New York Film Academy, and sang in musicals.
But what inspired her most was life off campus. In East Village, Manhattan, she fell in love with jazz and started singing in cozy clubs.
“Initially, I thought jazz was for people of a certain age bracket. But as it turned out, it suits me just fine,” says Wu.
In a singing contest in New York, Wu was discovered by Patrick Chu, who has been her manager ever since.
In 2006, her first year as a professional singer, Wu released three albums and bagged an award from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry as best-selling new female artist.
That was a bumper year, and she continued to make more albums in the succeeding years.
By 2010, however, her career encountered a hiatus. Wu, failing to release a new album, agreed to do cover songs, or versions of songs originally released by other singers.
During that time, “even my mom started asking me if I should find another job with stable earnings”, she recalls.
Unfazed, Wu pursued her vocation, with her mother giving her some pocket money once or twice during her toughest time.
Well, musical careers have their ebbs and flows, and the bleak period is over. Wu’s career is up and running again.
Come December, Wu will be staging a concert at the Lyric Theatre of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in Wan Chai.
It promises to be an enchanting evening as Wu, full of verve and heart, belts out original songs and other famous tunes in Body and Soul Live 2015.
Local jazz fans would not want to miss the show.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 28.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
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