By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
How often do you see Chinese immigrants avoid singing America’s national anthem?
Let’s face it. An immigrant is more inclined to sing their motherland’s national song than that of their adopted country.
As an immigrant, I have to admit, our national anthem is not easy to master. I know how to sing the national anthem, but I won’t do it before an audience.
When Rosa Leung, an immigrant, told me she loved to sing at our events, I challenged her.
“Can you sing the national anthem at the Northwest Asian Weekly’s Top Contributors dinner?” I can’t think of any other song relevant for our event except “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“Yes,” Leung said instantly, even though it would be her first time. It meant she had to learn the song and perform it professionally.
During her performance, Leung nailed the song so beautifully, especially the high-note emphasis on the word “free” from “land of the free” — she brought down the house.
However, not many in the community realized how talented Leung was until Sept. 10, when she gave a concert at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Bellevue. It was a blast!
Who would have thought someone from Hong Kong, originally, would major in Spanish? And yes, Leung studied at St. Louis University in Madrid, Spain for six months in Spanish arts and literature.
From Spanish songs (Besame Mucho) to English songs (Carpenters’ Top of the World), from Cantonese opera to the late Teresa Teng’s song in Mandarin, Leung did it flawlessly, hitting eight or nine songs continuously without breaks. Her energy and vitality is like a fresh daisy with the morning dew! Only the daisy can produce music like a lark.
In 1982, Leung won a televised singing contest, similar to American Idol. But she didn’t want to be a professional singer. She just enjoys singing and sharing her passion and joy with friends. And if her passion can do some good, she is more than happy to do it. The Sept. 10 concert helped to raise funds for community organizations.
Dennis Lam, an attorney, sang solo and performed a duet with Leung. During the duet, Leung lifted her partner up and helped Lam sound much more alive. What a gift for an attorney with the ability not just to sing, but perform.
Leung’s vocal range and booming voice were impressive. She kept going even after performing 20 songs. She said she was so happy and excited that she could perform 10 more. Some Chinese community events are noisy with people talking among themselves. But when Leung sang, the room was silent.
Sam Wan, the Kin On Health Care CEO, said, “Rosa is so gifted in singing … she was able to sing so many different styles of songs and maintaining the same professional quality. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.”
Her costumes were gorgeously designed. When Leung was on stage, I thought of Adele, singing so effortlessly, comfortable in her own skin, a strong stage presence with a powerful voice.
The two-hour concert, without an intermission, was such a nostalgic treat that took me back to the time I lived in Hong Kong decades ago. I was surprised that I still remembered some of the words to the songs, and followed along as Leung sang.
The concert delighted many. One fan told Leung that she was touched, and would call the performance “unforgettable.”
Leung said her three-month preparation for the concert was worth it, with good feedback from so many fans, including people she had not met before.
About 260 of her friends and many fans bought tickets for the show, raising over $6,000 for Kin On Health Care and the Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC).
“CISC would like to express its deep appreciation for Rosa Leung and guests for giving generously of their talents … to benefit Kin On and CISC,” said Dorothy Wong, CISC executive director. “The evening was a lovely event. Attractive venue, delicious food, and as always, a pleasure to hear Rosa’s beautiful voice.”
When asked if Leung felt fatigued the next day, she said, “Not at all.”
This was my first time attending Leung’s concert, and I thought it would be amateurish, like karaoke. I was completely wrong. It was her second concert and the whole program was professionally done and well organized.
One suggestion, Leung should make her concert an annual event, instead of every other year. Encore!
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.