Taiwanese singer Sam Lee finally fulfils dream of holding concert tour after 20 years
It is 9.15pm on Tuesday and Taiwanese singer-songwriter Sam Lee has just stepped out of a music studio in Taipei.
He has been rehearsing for hours with his concert entourage for his upcoming Singapore debut and should be understandably tired and hungry.
But dinner has to wait a little longer, as he first takes this phone call from The Straits Times to give an update on the preparation for his two shows at the Resorts World Ballroom on Sunday.
They are the 50-year-old’s first solo concerts in Singapore since he entered show business 24 years ago.
Often nicknamed the Prince of Love Songs, he is known for his sensitive ballads about heartbreak and loneliness.
Fans snapped up tickets priced from $78 to $228 to his evening show and an afternoon session was added, with limited tickets in the top-tiered price categories available at press time.
The concerts follow his two sold-out gigs in Genting Highlands, Malaysia, in May, and fans in Singapore can look forward to a mystery guest singer from Taiwan.
“Let me give some hints. She’s very pretty and sexy, and can dance very well,” Lee says excitedly, with nary a hint of exhaustion from his long work day.
With a laugh, he adds that he might invite some VIP audience members to join him on stage. “A few Singapore celebrity friends told me they will be attending my shows.”
Why did it take him more than two decades to come here?
“I don’t know too,” he says. “I don’t think any singer wants to wait so long to fulfil his or her dream of having a concert tour.
“But that’s okay because I feel more than prepared with over 20 years of experience now.”
He has not finalised his set list as he wants to freshen the concert experience wherever he goes. His next leg will be in the Chinese city of Macau in January 2024.
But he might include an English number for the Singapore audience. By his confession, English songs have a much bigger impact on his growing-up years and professional singing style than Mandarin songs.
He rattles off his current playlist which includes hits from American singer-songwriters, such as Miley Cyrus’ Flowers (2023), Lady Gaga’s I’ll Never Love Again (2018) and Bruno Mars’ Versace On The Floor (2016).
He loves British rock band Coldplay for their tracks like Adventure Of A Lifetime (2015) and Magic (2014).
But his first idols were American former singer Glenn Medeiros, who has retreated from the limelight, and the late British singer George Michael.
Lee recalls winning numerous singing contests in Taiwan from the age of 15 solely with English songs: Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You (1985) by Medeiros, Careless Whisper (1984) by Michael and I Swear (1994) by California based quartet All-4-One.
The prize monies were a big motivation for him then, he says with a chuckle, as each win could land him between NT$30,000 (S$1,280) and NT$50,000.
“That was a lot of money back then for a youth.”
His big break came in 1997 when he took part in a televised singing contest hosted by popular presenter Jacky Wu and emerged the champion with I Swear.
A recording offer followed, but Lee’s singing career did not take off immediately after the release of his first album Cold Coffee in 1999. It was his second album, Devotion Love (2002), that made him a bona fide star, with the title track taking the Mandopop market by storm.
Ironically, after belting it out for supposedly the 9,999th time at his 20th anniversary concert in 1999 in Taiwan, he pledged to take a break from his signature anthem.
At his upcoming Singapore shows, he says he might just croon an unaccompanied short segment and invite his audience to sing the rest.
“I’m saving the 10,000th time for a special occasion and possibly with a special rearrangement. But when and what? I don’t know,” he says.
During the pandemic, he seemed to have faded from the limelight. He said he had been composing songs and designing athleisure wear and sports products which he hopes to launch. The avid sportsman was once on Taiwan’s national tennis team.
But his romantic life remains uneventful – much like his brand of ballads about loneliness – and the 1.83m-tall bachelor is still waiting for Miss Right to come along.
“As a singer-songwriter, I also wish to find love and inject more creativity and energy into my compositions.”
He adds with a laugh: “I don’t know where she is. I’m still imagining the day she will come into my life.”
What are the qualities he is looking for in that special someone?
“I hope she loves music and sports as much as I do, so we have common interests. That will be the best.”
Book it/Me and Song: Sam Lee Singapore Concert 2023
Where: Resorts World Ballroom, Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway
When: Sunday, 2.30 and 8pm
Admission: Limited tickets from $138 to $228 for the 2.30pm show are available via Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg). The 8pm show has been sold out