12: Denise Ho Wan-see (HOCC)
Denise Ho, the stylish and charismatic Cantopop star, has built a loyal following with her killer combo of dynamite live performances and bold artistic choices. Ho makes our list not only for her compelling turns in song, stage, and film, but also for her reliably outspoken mind.
“I was born in Hong Kong and love it as much as anyone else,” she says. “But there are many problems.” The multiple-award-winning 31-year-old sings about sensitive social issues such as homosexuality. “I am starting to care more about the issues surrounding us. I am trying to find ways to put those messages into my music.”
The one person who has most inspired Ho won’t come as a surprise to those who’ve followed her closely. “My mentor and teacher, Anita Mui, for sure,” she says. “She not only influenced my career, she also formed my whole personality.” Ho joined Mui as a back-up singer in 1996 after she won the TVB New Talent Singing Awards and hasn’t looked back since.
Among her many memorable achievements: 2003’s Music is Live concert, when she brought down the house with fellow-Mui protégé Andy Hui, and winning the 2005 Female Silver Singer Award at Commercial Radio Hong Kong’s annual ceremony.
The straight-shooting Ho says that, to make Hong Kong a better place, she’ll gladly be a “revolutionary” singer. Count us among her foot-soldiers.
Recommended listening: HOCC Live in Unity 2006