When Angela Hui Ching-wan graduated from Hong Kong Business School at the age of 23, she already had three years of experience in the music scene under her belt – and three albums to show.
Emperor Entertainment Group, one of the city’s largest entertainment companies, signed Hui to their label while still a high school student, giving her a head start over other singers. budding looking for a start in the industry.
At first glance, it seemed at the time that she was on the fast track to a promising career. The reality was, she thought, that no one knew her or her music.
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It would be a long journey before the 28-year-old musical artist was named Singer of the Year at the KKBOX Hong Kong Music Awards – which took place in October.
While still a student at Baptist University, she hosted a campus event to promote her music. She put on a stage and sang a few songs, hoping to get more people to like her music.
âI had so much funâ¦ but no one passing by recognized me,â Hui said. “I started to think about whether it was appropriate for me to stay in this industry.”
After graduating in 2016, she considered giving up her singing career for a job in finance. In the end, she decided to give herself three to five more years to prove her worth.
“I thought I still had time before I was 30 … I really loved singing, so I didn’t want to regret not pursuing my dream in the future,” she said. declared.
A year later, she hatched a plan to start over: uploading videos of her acoustic covers of popular Canto-pop songs to YouTube with her face hidden so no one would know who she was. On the channel, she used the pseudonym Siu Bui Sum – Cantonese for the “little waistcoat” she always wore in her videos.
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âI always wondered if there was something wrong with my personality, my voice or my appearanceâ¦ why didn’t anyone listen to my songs? She said, adding that when she hid her face, she felt that she could sing freely without such worries.
Six months after launching the channel, the singer had posted 19 covers. His videos as Siu Bui Sum were growing in popularity, each recording more than 10,000 views.
Unexpected success motivated her.
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âThe channel was a turning point in my careerâ¦ well, there were people who listened to the songs I sang,â she said.
In 2017, she held her first concert under her identity as Siu Bui Sum in Kowloon Bay. There were around 700 people in the audience that day, and she donned her mask so fans wouldn’t know who she was.
Towards the end of the show, she mustered the courage to take off her mask and revealed her true personality to everyone.
Hui was initially nervous to share her face with the audience during her concert, but eventually found the courage. Photo: KY Cheng
âAt the time, I was very afraid that people would be disappointed and just leaveâ¦ But I was moved by their support and enthusiasm,â she recalls.
“No matter who I was – Siu Bui Sum or Hui Ching-wan – they always loved me the same.”
She described that night as the validation she was looking for as a singer, and it gave her the courage to take her career to the next level.
Once her identity was revealed, she challenged herself to enter a television competition in which she was one of 101 women competing for the chance to be selected to a group of 11 girls.
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Because she had no dance experience, she didn’t even expect to audition.
“I only knew how to sing, but the competition also focused on dancing … I had to perform Ariana Grande’s piece. Focus in one of the casting sessions, but only managed to memorize a few dance steps, âshe said with a laugh.
Even so, her other talents were compelling enough that she was chosen to join the show.
For four months, she had dance rehearsals and vocal training every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Some weeks she slept less than 10 hours in total, as she was still training for the show.
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Despite all of her preparation, she missed her first challenge in which contestants had to learn the choreography of the season’s opening song in three days before performing it individually.
To memorize all the dance moves, Hui barely slept. But when it was her turn, she was so nervous that she forgot almost half of the steps.
However, her exceptional vocal skills and down-to-earth personality saved her and she eventually made it to the final round.
In her last performance, she sang Eason Chan Yik-shun Karaoke king, impressing audiences with his emotional take on the classic Canto-pop.
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“I chose the song because [its title] told my story – I was first known as a YouTuber who sang popular karaoke songs, âshe explained.
Although she lost the competition, it opened doors for her.
She then appeared on various musical variety shows and collaborated with famous Canto-pop singers like Hacken Lee.
Three of the original songs she released after joining the competition have each surpassed one million views on YouTube. A song, Bit Wai Ngo Hou, which translates to “don’t be nice to me,” has racked up over 3 million views.
In October, she performed at the KKBOX Awards, where she won the singer of the year award.
As she sang a song about the courage to dislike, she had a deja vu moment that brought her back to her Siu Bui Sum concert years ago.
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âI was so touched to see everyone hold up the flashlight from their cell phones, and it reminded me of the beautiful memory of this concert,â she said.
“From an online singer to who I am today, [my fans] accompanied me on this journey.
She concluded, “As the name of the song suggests, I have faced criticism since my debutâ¦ But I persisted with the courage to be hated and to insist on pursuing my dream.”
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To his credit å·²ç¶ ç²å¾: completed, experienced or acquired safely or in a satisfactory manner.
Pseudonym åå: A fictitious name, especially one used by an author
Gather æ¶ç©«: to gather or collect something
Gathered é¼èµ·: Invoke a feeling or an attitude
Validation èªå¯: Acknowledgment or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or useful
Interpretation æ¼ç¹¹: A performance or interpretation, in particular of a dramatic role or piece of music
Accumulated ç´¯ç©: to accumulate or achieve something, usually a score or an amount
Deja vu ä¼¼ æ¾ ç¶æ· é ç æè¦º: A feeling of having already experienced the present situation