Ferren Lee-Kelly (born January 17, 1975 – July 5, 2023) was a famous Hong Kong-born American singer, songwriter, and actress known popularly as Coco Lee. She is known for her multilingual skills, as she is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and Japanese. She gained widespread popularity in the 1990s and 2000s with her R&B and pop music which include “A Love Before Time,” “Do You Want My Love,” and “Before I Fall in Love.” In addition to her music career, Coco Lee has also acted in a few films and television shows.
Coco Lee was born and raised in the vibrant city of Hong Kong, from a diverse heritage, with Chinese and American roots. Her father, Lee Kah Shing, hails from Hong Kong and is an accomplished Chinese opera singer, while her mother, Lily Lee, adds a touch of glamour to the family as a fashion model. Her siblings include Carol Lee and Nancy Lee. Growing up in an environment surrounded by music and artistic influences undoubtedly played a significant role in shaping Coco Lee‘s passion for singing and performing from an early age.
At eight, Coco Lee’s family decided to relocate to San Francisco, California. This change brought new opportunities and challenges, but it also introduced her to a multicultural setting that would have a lasting impact on her life. She seamlessly embraced English and Chinese in this diverse environment, becoming fluent in both. This linguistic versatility would later prove invaluable in her career as a multilingual artist with global appeal.
Coco Lee’s passion for music flourished during her formative years and adolescence. She fearlessly showcased her exceptional vocal abilities by actively participating in various school talent shows and local singing competitions. Recognizing her potential, Coco Lee underwent formal singing, dancing, and stage performance training, determined to sharpen her skills and carve a path toward a future in the entertainment industry.
In 1993, Coco Lee took a significant step in her journey by participating in the esteemed Miss Chinese International Pageant held in her birthplace, Hong Kong. Her outstanding talent and grace earned her the distinguished title of first runner-up, garnering the attention of music producers and industry professionals. This pivotal event served as a launchpad for her career, providing the recognition and exposure she needed to make her mark in the music world.
The following year, in 1994, Coco Lee’s aspirations took a tangible form as she signed a recording contract with Sony Music. This significant milestone opened the door to realizing her dreams as a recording artist. With her signature blend of talent, hard work, and determination, Coco Lee was well on her way to becoming a renowned and multitalented performer, captivating audiences worldwide with her extraordinary vocal prowess and cross-cultural appeal.
Coco Lee’s career spans over three decades and encompasses a wide range of accomplishments in the music industry. Her exceptional talent, multilingual skills, and dynamic stage presence have contributed to her success as a singer, songwriter, and performer.
After signing with Sony Music in 1994, Coco Lee released her self-titled debut album, “Coco Lee,” which showcased her powerful vocals and versatility as an artist. The album received positive reviews and set the stage for her future endeavors.
In 1996, Coco Lee released her second studio album, “Promise,” which marked a breakthrough in her career. The album featured Mandarin and English tracks, appealing to a broader audience. One of the album’s standout songs was “A Love Before Time,” the theme song for the critically acclaimed film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” The song earned Coco Lee international recognition and an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, solidifying her position as a rising star.
Continuing her musical journey, Coco Lee released several successful albums. Her third studio album, “Just No Other Way” (1999), incorporated elements of R&B and showcased her vocal prowess. The album achieved commercial success and featured the hit single “Do You Want My Love,” which topped the charts in various countries.
In 2000, Coco Lee released the album “Sunny Day,” showcasing her versatility with a fusion of pop, R&B, and dance music. The album included the popular tracks “Can’t Get Over” and “Before I Fall in Love,” the latter being the theme song for the movie “Mulan.”
Coco Lee’s international appeal grew, leading to collaborations with renowned artists. In 2003, she collaborated with Celine Dion on the song “When You Believe” for the Chinese version of the movie “The Prince of Egypt.” The duet showcased her vocal range and received critical acclaim.
In 2005, Coco Lee released her album “Exodus,” which explored a more contemporary sound and featured collaborations with international artists such as hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas and singer Shaggy. The album’s lead single, “Hip Hop Tonight,” showcased her ability to embrace different musical genres.
Throughout her career, Coco Lee has performed at numerous high-profile events and concerts, captivating audiences with her energetic stage presence and powerful performances. She has toured extensively in Asia, North America, and other parts of the world, solidifying her status as a global music icon.
In addition to her music career, Coco Lee has also made strides in acting. She has appeared in films such as “Treasure Hunt” (2003) and “Perhaps Love” (2005), showcasing her versatility as a performer.
Coco Lee’s contributions to the music industry have been recognized with various awards and accolades. She has received honors such as the Golden Melody Award, World Music Award, MTV Asia Award, and Hong Kong Film Award, further solidifying her reputation as one of Asia’s most influential and successful artists.
- A Love Before Time
- Do You Want My Love
- Before I Fall in Love
- Can’t Get Over
- Hip Hop Tonight
- So Crazy
- Wherever You Go
- Real Love
- Magic Words
- Di Da Di
- Miss You Like Crazy
- Heart to Ask
- No Doubt
- Love Me a Little
- My Lucky Star
- The Greatness of Love
- When You Tell Me That You Love Me (with Julio Iglesias)
- Just No Other Way
Coco Lee has had a private personal life, but it is known that she was previously in a relationship with a man whose identity has not been publicly disclosed. The couple had two daughters during their time together before eventually parting ways.
Later on, Coco Lee entered into a relationship with Bruce Rockowitz. They started dating, and their love story culminated in marriage. In October 2011, Coco Lee and Bruce Rockowitz tied the knot in a memorable wedding ceremony held in Hong Kong.
The couple opted for a Jewish ceremony showcasing their shared cultural and personal values. Their special day was even more extraordinary, with performances by acclaimed artists such as Bruno Mars, Alicia Keys, and Ne-Yo, creating an unforgettable experience for all in attendance.
Tragically, Coco Lee was reported to have attempted suicide on July 3, 2023, and was quickly admitted to Queen Mary Hospital in an unconscious state. Unfortunately, She died three days later, on July 5, 2023, at 48.
- Instagram @cocolee
Coco Lee had an estimated net worth of about US$3 million.