an evening of classics
Thirty years since making waves with the soaring theme song The Bund, Frances Yip remains the consummate performer that she is.
Hong Kong songstress Frances Yip showcased her big voice at her recent charity concert in Malaysia.
IN these two years, we have been through a lot. The only constant is change,” said Hong Kong Cantopop star Frances Yip before singing Gah Bin (A House Is Not A Home), the TV theme song made famous by Roman Tam in 1977, at her concert in Kuala Lumpur last Friday.
One thing that remains unchanged is how popular her epic hit The Bund is. It is said that the tune, one of the few Cantonese songs that is as enduring and universally enjoyed as Teresa Teng’s music, can be heard wherever there are Chinese.
The theme song of the 1980 TVB series of the same title – starring Chow Yun-fat as a gangster in 1930s Shanghai – propelled the big-voiced Yip into a household name beyond the Chinese-speaking region. Even among non-Chinese music listeners, many are able to hum a verse or two of the song, one of the most covered Cantopop hits.
This was proven once again at A Pink Charity Evening With Frances Yip And The Orchestra, a concert held in conjunction with Estee Lauder Companies’ breast cancer awareness campaign this year at the Plenary Hall of Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
The Bund remained the keenly anticipated number among the 3,000-strong audience that evening. When the 32-piece orchestra played the familiar intro, the full house erupted into thunderous applause.
Although it was just part of the medley of theme songs of The Bund trilogy, the crowd lapped it up and nearly everybody, including some Malay audiences, sang along to the chorus.
“Back in the 1980s, I was arriving in Malaysia. A female immigration officer took a look at my passport and went ‘ Long ban, long lau’ (the first few verses of the song about rolling waves) ...” recalled the veteran chanteuse at the concert.
The success of The Bund has spawned various versions, including in Vietnamese and Thai.
Yip cheekily launched into a few verses from the Thai version, to fans’ surprise and delight.
“What can I say? Without the song, I’d never have the chance to stand here and sing to you,” said the apparently moved songstress, before she belted out the iconic number.
Of course, with a singing career that has spanned 41 years, Yip, who celebrated her 63rd birthday two weeks ago, has a vast repertoire that covers more than just TV theme songs.
“I love to sing. I started singing when I was very young and I can’t remember a day since without singing,” she said at the beginning of the show.
Looking radiant in a pink sequined oneshoulder gown, the star switched effortlessly between languages.
Yip also flaunted her vocal range in Mandarin gems like the melancholy Bu Liao Qing (Love Without End) and a string of beautiful tunes penned by Joseph Koo, one of Hong Kong’s most prolific composers. Others included Zuo Ye Meng Hun Zhong (Dreaming Of You) and Ai Ni Bian Cheng Hai Ni (Loving You Is Hating You).
She also performed a number of foreignlanguage songs she covered back in the 1970s, such as the Filipino love song Dahil Sa Iyo as well as Malay numbers Widuri and Oh Di Mana.
-Equally enchanting was her emotionpacked delivery of English classics, including Judy Garland’s Over The Rainbow and With One Look, the Andrew Lloyd Webber composition from the musical Sunset Boulevard.
In between songs, the personable singer shared anecdotes about herself, including one about a young female singer who had asked to be photographed with her.
“I was delighted to have a fan as young as her. Next, she said, ‘ Great! This is for my grandma!’” she related to great laughter. Yip told more than just light-hearted jokes. As a breast cancer survivor, she recounted her experience of being diagnosed with stage one of the disease in 1996.
“It was very scary at the time,” she said, adding that it was fortunate that the cancer was detected early and she did not have to lose a breast in the course of treatment.
She has remained cancer-free for the past 14 years.
“It’s important to do regular selfexamination. Seek medical help if you detect anything in your breasts. Breast cancer is not a death sentence,” she reiterated.
Near the end of the two-hour show, Yip dedicated Richard Marx’s Now And Forever to her British husband of 29 years, David Lomax, who was among the audience. As a gesture of love to her soul mate and manager, she changed the lyrics “I will be your man” to “you will be my man”.
A total of RM550,000 was raised from the event, which will be channelled to four breast cancer research and treatment organisations, namely Breast Cancer Welfare Association, College Of Radiology Malaysia, National Cancer Society Malaysia and Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation.
Powerhouse vocals: Hong Kong songstress Frances Yip wowed a full-house crowd at her charity concert, APink CharityEveningWithFrancesYipAndTheOrchestra, held at the Plenary Hall of Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
Yip, a breast cancer survivor, shared anecdotes about herself during the show.