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Kuang Yu Min
A native of Rochester, New York, Wang Leehom is a pop music idol and actor in Asia. He did not study Chinese until he was 17 years old, but is now fluent in both speaking and writing it.
While he has appeared in a few movies – such as Stanley Tong's China Strike Force – he is best known for composing and producing 12 solo albums that have sold over 10 million copies worldwide. After studying at the Eastman School of Music, Williams College, and the Berklee College of Music, he burst onto China's pop music scene in 1998 with his album "Revolution." At Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards – China's equivalent of the Grammy Awards – he won both the Best Male Artist of the Year and Best Producer of the Year awards, and was the youngest artist ever to win either prize.
Mr. Wang has been nominated for the Best Male Artist award every year since then, solidifying his presence as one of the most influential and prolific artists in Asian music. He won Golden Melody Awards for Best Producer and Best Male Artist again in 2003 and 2006, respectively.
On his albums and in his live concerts, he plays many instruments; these include piano, drums, guitar, bass, violin, vibraphone, erhu, and xun. Mr. Wang's concert tours entail large-scale 3-hour-long shows in Asia's biggest arenas. His 2006 tour took him through China, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and – in a sold-out performance for 80,000 fans – Shanghai.
His musical education enables him to explore a variety of styles, and a sound that is distinctively Chinese yet also global. His 2005 album "Shangri-la" combined rhythm and blues with hip-hop as well as tribal music from Tibet, Mongolia, and Yunan; his 2006 album "Heroes of Earth" incorporated Beijing opera and its forerunner Kun Qu.
Mr. Wang is active in many charities and educational initiatives. In 2002, he was appointed by UNICEF as the Youth Ambassador to Nepal. In 2003, during the SARS epidemic, he wrote and produced the research benefit song "Hand in Hand," which was performed by 85 Chinese artists.
He has also been the National Geographic Channel spokesperson in Hong Kong, and as such recorded an album "Nature," dedicated to Jane Goodall; starred in Ashes to Ashes, the Hong Kong government-sponsored anti-smoking short film; recorded, with Tetsuya Komuro, the song "Happiness x3, Loneliness x3" for the Japanese government's anti-drug campaign; wrote "Love Will Never Disappear," performed by A-Mei Chang as a fundraiser for disaster relief following Taiwan's 1999 earthquake; and, with the help of his fans over the Internet, composed the song "Frozen Dreams," the proceeds of which went to Taiwan's Education Foundation for Youth.
Mr. Wang's newest album, released in July 2007, is "Change Me"; it is aimed at raising Asian awareness of global warming and environmental considerations.
He and his Lust, Caution director Ang Lee were recently listed among "The 80 Most Inspiring Asian-Americans of All Time," by Goldsea Asian-American Daily.