at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Stefanie Sun: 孫燕姿

stefanie_sunIn the Mandarin-speaking world, Stefanie Sun is more popularly known by her Mandarin name, Sun Yan Zi or Sun Yanzi (simplified Chinese: 孙燕佳; traditional Chinese: 孫燕佳; pinyin: Sūn Yànjiā). She has sold over 10 million copies in Asia. With ten albums to her name, she is arguably the most successful singer from Singapore. She is also a fashion icon in Asia, being called the Kate Moss of Singapore. Stefanie Sun is also known to be best friends with fellow Pop Princess of Taiwan, Jolin Tsai. They are often performing guests in each other’s concert. Most of her songs are sung in Mandarin Chinese, with a few in English. Sun’s ability to speak various dialects is reflected in the songs she sings. In the song “Cloudy Day” (天黑黑), she sings in both Mandarin and Hokkien. It is an adaptation of a traditional Hokkien folk song that included the first six words in the original Hokkien- Thiⁿ-bo͘ho͘h, beh bo̍hō͘ – in the chorus.

The album Start contains 6 songs in English: covers of “Venus”, “That I Will Be Good”, “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough”, “Silent All These Years”, and “Hey Jude”; and the original song “Someone”. As a singer, Sun is not known for her voice, but her physical appeal and fan base. She does most of her recording, and conducts most of her publicity events, in Taiwan, which comprises her largest audience. She also visits mainland of China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore frequently for promotional rounds. Her first album was released in June 2000, the self-titled Yan Zi (孙燕姿), published by Warner Music. “Yan Zi” album sold over 560 000 copies alone in Taiwan, and 3.8 million copies in Asia. This was a major success for Sun and the record company as a newcomer. This was followed in December of the same year as My Desired Happiness (我要的幸福), which sold over 800,000 copies in Taiwan alone, and 4 million copies in Asia. Both albums achieved commercial success by having each sold over 1 000 000 copies in China. In 2002 and 2003 Sun sang the official theme songs for Singapore’s National Day Parade: “We Will Get There” (一起走到) and “One United People” (全心全意). The former was included on the album Leave. Leave sold over 400,000 copies in Taiwan and 3.3 million copies in Asia.

In late 2003, she decided to take a one-year hiatus from making music, believing that she needed to recover her lost sense of direction in her career. She returned in late 2004 with a new album titled Stefanie, intended to be a mirror of her debut album (self-titled as well, but in Chinese). This was to symbolize her return with a fresh attitude. This album was well received by the critics in the Chinese music industry. This album sold over 2,300,000 copies in Asia; making it the most successful album from her. She also started her own company, Make Music, during this sabbatical. A Perfect Day was released on 2005, almost one year later. Reviews of this new album have been mixed, but Sun had mentioned before that her priority was to make quality music, instead of over-commercialized products that sell well but have a lower level of artistic quality. Though this album did not reach the best commercial success, it still managed to sell over 1 000 000 copies in Asia.

In 2006, Sun was in the midst of a regional concert tour. She has staged four full-house concerts at the renowned Hong Kong Coliseum. The performances received positive reviews from the media as well as overwhelming support from fans. Sun also returned to Singapore in a much-anticipated homecoming concert. Yet, not all was smooth-sailing for her. At the Golden Melody Award 2006 in Taiwan, whilst performing renditions of other male singers’ songs, she went off-key and was heavily lambasted in the Chinese pop media, which reported that she has shattered her image of a pop diva with great singing skills. She attributed it to factors like not enough rest, jet lag, inadequate time for sufficient practice etc.

Sun’s first album under the Capitol brand is entitled Against The Light (逆光) and has been released on 22 March 2007. Her decision to leave Warner after 9 albums was partly due to music executive Sam Chen, who now works at EMI. He had collaborated with Sun on 8 of her 9 albums. On 26 February 2007, Sun returned from Cairo where she and her team were extorted by suspected local gangsters. Sun was in Egypt to shoot a music video for her new album. Two men disguised as government officials followed her and the crew and asked for money—at one point even showing a handgun. The crew tried calling the police, only for the two crooks to dismiss them with just a few words. The crew had to hand over a total of over 200,000 yuan in order to continue shooting. The extortion went on for four days. Finally, Sun and her team were able to leave the country with the help of the Singapore embassy. Upon returning home, the pop diva said nothing except that she was tired and needed some rest.

Stefanie Sun’s 10th album, Against The Light, has been a major success in Asia. In Taiwan, it sold over 60,000 copies in the first 3 days it was released. In addition, over 500,000 copies were sold within a week in Mainland China. So far, Sun has been the number one spot in Taiwanese music charts for six weeks. In 2007, Stefanie Sun sang the official theme song for ASEAN’s 40th anniversary celebrations: Rise Again. And, in May 2009, Stefanie Sun started her new world tour “The Answer is…” with her first stop being Taiwan. In this world tour, she worked with William Chang, her concert image consultant.

Official EMI Site |iLike Page | Facebook Fan Page | Article from Straits Times