How Gigi ditched the girl next door
She used to be known as a girl-next-door type, but that all changed a few months ago when Canto-pop star Gigi Leung Wing-kei appeared on stage in Shanghai wearing sexy outfits and performing some decidedly erotic dance moves.
Her fans were surprised and many eyebrows were raised, and now it's time for local audiences to be introduced to Leung's new look at a charity show at AsiaWorld-Arena tomorrow night.
The show will be Leung's first large-scale performance in Hong Kong since Tall Girl Gigi Leung Funny Face Live held in 2003 and is a follow-up to her Shanghai tour staged in August.
Unlike the mainland show, more Cantonese numbers will be added to tomorrow's concert and she has also invited Vanness Wu from Taiwanese boy band F4 to perform some passionate choreography.
'To amplify your charm on such a huge stage, sexy dances and costumes are inevitable,' says Leung, 31.
'Also when people come to your concert, they expect to see something they can't get from listening to your records. There are lots of possibilities on stage - I don't mind exploring these.'
Starting out as a model, Leung entered show business at the age of 19 in Lee Chi-ngai's Doctor Mack, co-starring with Tony Leung Chiu-wai. She later became widely known for her part as the pathetic girlfriend of Andy Lau Tak-wah in Derek Yee Tung-sing's film, Full Throttle, for which she was nominated best new performer at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 1996.
Leung released her debut Canto-pop album, Love Myself, in 1996 and the Mando-pop record, Short Hair, the following year. Both records played up her image as an innocent young girl and the dream date of many young men and teenagers.
Recalls Leung, who creates music with a piano and computer: 'When I wrote my first lyrics for my debut album, I already aspired to be a writer as well as a singer. But then, I didn't promote the song as I was not confident about my work.'
The singer-songwriter released a two-disc album, Woman. Colour, this summer. She has received many gongs for best singer and most popular newcomer in several local music awards.
Despite now being seen as one of the city's leading female singers, Leung says she doesn't really care about winning awards and has been more satisfied with improving herself lately. 'I think I'm improving for every record, concert and movie I do. I won't be too demanding, hoping to jump to the top or think about something I can't achieve,' she says.
To polish her skills, Leung has followed veteran singer and vocal teacher Teresa Carpio to learn singing since 2004. 'She opened up my mind, not just my voice. She inspired me to sing with my heart,' Leung says.
'It's the way you tell the story rather than your singing skills that touches people.
'Singing is not about hitting a higher note, but whether you put your heart into the song.
'Some people like skilful singers, others like listening to people singing naturally. I think I have my own market and supporters.'
Gigi Leung Charity Concert 2007, tomorrow, 8pm, AsiaWorld-Arena, Chek Lap Kok, HK$100-HK$400 HK Ticketing. Inquiries: 2785 7166