Sammi Cheng

 

Sammi Cheng Sau-Man (鄭秀文)

Hong-kongese Singer

 

Born in Hong-Kong in 1972

Sammi Cheng is a Hong Kong Cantopop singer and actress. Having enjoyed much success in the Hong Kong music industry, Sammi has been known as a diva. Most notably in the 1990s, she was dubbed by the media as the "new cantopop queen". On top of her celebrity status, Sammi's fortune is often reported by the local press. Many a times with income from outside the entertainment industry such as advertising and miscellaneous sources. In 2000 she was estimated to have a net worth of more than HK$100 million. In a 2002 publication, Cheng was listed as the highest paid female entertainer in Hong Kong, accompanying Jackie Chan who was the highest paid male entertainer at the time.

Sammi Cheng was previously named Twinnie Cheng. Contrary to popular belief, "Twinnie" is not her birth name. The name came about when Sammi was still schooling and her English Language teacher wanted everyone in class to have an English name. When Sammi turned to her sister for help, her sister came up with the name "Twinnie". The name was later changed to "Sammi" as "Sammi" sounds a little like "Sau Man". Cheng received her education at SKH St. Peter's Primary School and Tang Shiu Kin Victoria Government Secondary School.

Sammi Cheng entered the entertainment industry at the age of 16 through a high profile, annual TV singing contest, the New Talent Singing Awards in 1988. Although she came in third in the competition, the sponsoring record company, Capital Artists, saw her potential and offered her a recording contract. Cheng at the time was still in school, and had to balance her studies with her rising singing career. Before finishing school, Sammi had managed to release 3 full-length studio albums: Sammi, Holiday and Never Too Late. One of her first major award was the 1990 RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards, where she was recognized as a best new prospect.

In 1993, Cheng realized that in order to rise from a top B-list artist to an A-list artist, she had to create a unique image for herself. She capitalized on the attention received from her duet with artist Andy Hui, "Do you really have me in your heart?" (其實你心裡有沒有我), winning the 1993 Jade Solid Gold Top 10 Awards with that song. Cheng then went through a complete 180-degree transformation, dying her hair orange, changing her style. Her 4th studio album "Sammi's Happy Maze" (鄭秀文的快樂迷宮) was also released, which include the hit single "Chotto Matte" (Chotto 等等). Her new image fitted well with the new single, which was a remake of a very upbeat Japanese song by Maki Ohguro. The success helped Sammi and boosted her singing career.

   

In 1994 she continued to capitalize on her wild, new image. Her first album of that year was "Big Revenge" (大報復). The album included the mega hit "Ding Dong" (叮噹), which became one of Sammi's all-time signature songs. But with her new fame also came a lot of backlash from the media. Critics pointed out that Sammi purposely westernized her Cantonese. Instead of saying "Ding Dong", Sammi pronounced it as "Deen Dong".

Despite the criticism, the song was one of most popular dance songs of that year. In 1994 the racy and controversial cut of "Ten Commandments" (十誡) was banned from the radio for a few days after its initial airplay of the track including tiny bits of what can be recognized as pornography soundtrack. In 1995 Cheng disappeared from the public eye for nearly half a year. Later that year, it was revealed that Warner Music company had signed her. She let her hair color return to black and temporarily abandon the wild image she used to have.

In 1995 she released her first album "Missing you" (捨不得你). In 1996, the company decided it was time for Sammi to expand her market and fan base beyond Hong Kong. They released her first Mandarin album, "Worth It" (值得). The album was number one on the Taiwan IFPI chart for six consecutive weeks. She won a number of awards, most notably she was voted back-to-back as the most popular female artist by TVB from 1995 to 1996.

She would finish that year with her first concert titled "Sammi's X-Dimension Concert" (鄭秀文X空間演唱會). In 1998 she was also a featured star in a Heineken sponsored Music Horizons concert along with international singers such as Boyz II Men and Julian Lennon. By the time Cheng was 24 years old she had already released four greatest hits albums.

In the 1990s, another female star, Faye Wong was one of her main rivalry. When they were on stage together, they would be cold to one another. The rivalry was confirmed in the 1999 TVB music award night. Both Wong and Cheng were arranged to sit next to each other backstage. Cheng avoided Faye Wong by kept going off stage to fix her make-up. In addition, her fans were angry and hissed at Faye Wong when she went on stage to receive an award. Though Wong herself have insisted that the rivalry wasn't true, and that she was friendly toward Cheng.

In July 2004, she held 7 nights of "Sammi Vs Sammi" concerts in Hong Kong. She also broken the record as being the youngest female singer to hold more than 50 accumulated concert nights in the city.

Cheng's acting career began with the TVB series Life of His Own in 1991. A year later she would begin her film career with the movie Best of the Best (飛虎精英之人間有情) in 1992 with fellow cantopop star Jacky Cheung. She would follow with another comedy film Feel 100% (百分百感覺) with Ekin Cheng and Gigi Leung.

In the late 1990s during the slump of the HK film industry she staged a box office revolution by starring in the film Needing You by acclaimed director Johnny To, co-starring Andy Lau and the movie Summer Holidiay in 2000. The films were hits at the box office hit in all South East Asia regions, and Hong Kong has cumulated nearly HK$60 million at the box office. The Needing You VCD received a sold out record of more than 200,000 copies.

From this film, she was also a nominee for "Best Actress" as well as taking part in singing the "Best original film song" in the 2001 Hong Kong Film Award. Following the success of those movies she starred in a few more including Wu Yen, Love on a Diet, Marry a Rich Man, My Left Eye Sees Ghost and many more. At the 62nd Venice International Film Festival Cheng was one of the front runner for the "Best actress" award for the film Everlasting Regret in 2005. Other contenders for the award included Monica Bellucci, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lee Young-ae and Isabelle Hupper.

Cheng changes her look and image for every album, which enables her to gain extensive attention and appreciation from the music professional and the public. Sammi is a trendsetter of hair-coloring and has been chosen to be one of the Top Ten fashionable celebrities in Hong Kong. She has been signed and endorsed by many companies. Some of the bigger endorsements include SK-II skin care and Mona Lisa bridal service. Her first album with Warner Music, "Can't Give You Up" (捨不得你) released 3 hit singles, "Gentlemen, you are so fine today" (男仕今天你很好), "Can't Give You Up" (捨不得你) and "The Mourning Song for Love" (愛的輓歌). She was selected as the prominent celebrity for the endorsement of Panasonic using "Can't Give You Up" (捨不得你) as the theme song.

In 2005, Cheng had only one feature film release and no music projects. She became a representative for Veeko and Titus, a fashion and watch brand in Hong Kong, respectively. She also began writing Sunday columns for Mingpao magazine. In 2006, she released another greatest hits album, but there were no new tracks. The break was taken to recoup her energy from the entertainment industry.

After taking a break for about 2 years, she re-invented herself again, and held her 6th concert in HK from 18 to 25 May 2007 titled Show Mi Tour (Mi being the nickname of SamMI given by her fans). Due to the huge demand for tickets, the four performances was expanded to eight. She returned to entertain at the age of 34, and invited fellow star Andy Lau and Denise Ho to perform with her. At the end of the first show, audience members continued to shout 'encore' for 15 minutes until Sammi came back out and sang "Our Theme Song" (我們的主題曲). The concert was expanded to the Show Mi Tour.

In 2003 Cheng performed at the 1:99 Concert to raise funds for SARS affected families. She had participated in the 2008 Chinese winter storm support effort where many artists including Andy Lau, Alan Tam, Kelly Chen, etc recorded a song called "Warmth in the Snow" in support of those effected by the storm. She was also a participant of the Artistes 512 Fund Raising Campaign.

In April 2008, she participated in the activities of World Vision. She traveled to Laos with fellow singer Gigi Leung, also a World Vision volunteer, to experience for themselves the struggles of the local people and children. They also visited the local children there to find out more on their situation where food and supplies are lacking. When Sammi returned to Hong Kong, Gigi and her were invited to the radio broadcast program 903 to talk about the experience and she responded she has "adopted" 13 children.

Sammi Cheng's official website: http://www.sammi.popz.tv/

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