By Jeff Yong
“If you didn’t even know what ‘offside’ meant, she (Anita Mui) would get bored and walk away,” says Connie Sin Kwai-chi, vice-chairwoman of Mui Nation, the late singer’s fan club.
She was passionate about football and her favourite team was Manchester United, according to a recent report by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Mui Nation staging a commemorative exhibition 20 years after the singer had succumbed to cervical cancer on Dec 30, 2003 at a relatively young age of 40.
“I would record all the matches for her whenever she left town. She would ask about the games in so much detail – who scored a goal at which minute, and she could immediately tell whether you knew what you were talking about,” Connie said to SCMP.
Anita Mui Yim-fong, the Cantopop diva and actress was someone ahead of her time. And holds a special place in the hearts of her millions of fans. For many of her fans, Anita’s songs provided a rich tapestry of soundscapes to their lives. Her songs often touched upon the universal themes of love, loss, and personal struggles, thus creating a deep emotional connection with her listeners.
Also known as the “Madonna of Asia”, she was perhaps the first in Hong Kong’s entertainment industry to dye her hair blonde some 30 years back and wore high-quality fashion outfits from Christian Dior for her stage shows. This was because when it came to fashion and style, Anita’s fashion sense and style were often trendsetting. Her distinctive looks and costumes made her a fashion icon, and fans admired her for her bold and daring choices.
According to Mui Nation FB page, Anita Mui’s “A Legacy, A Legend” multimedia exhibition from now until Oct 15 at Moko New Century Plaza in Mong Kok is divided into five sections. It highlights her music, performances, avant-garde fashion, movies and her kindness and generosity through many of her charitable endeavours as she used her fame and fortune to help the under-privileged.
A team from the Hong Kong Metropolitan University has also transformed the singer’s classic posters into anime.
The organisers have also roped in young designer Kim Robinson and a well-known fashion designer Dorian Ho to enable the younger generation to better understand Anita Mui’s exceptional achievements in the hope they can carry on her legacy.
For die-hard fans, there will be specially designed postcards and t-shirts on sale on site and at www.muination20.com.
For the uninitiated, especially those from Gen Z (1995 onwards), who was Anita Mui? Well, she was really somebody.
When the talented Anita sang, her powerful and emotive voice shone through as her ability to convey deep emotions through her music resonated with many, making her a much beloved figure in the world of Cantopop.
Not only that. She had dynamic stage presence, too. Her electrifying stage performances, characterised by her charisma and energy, left lasting impressions on those who had the privilege of seeing her perform “live”. She had such a unique ability to connect with her audience and make them feel a part of the show.
Anita was also highly versatile. This special quality allowed her to excel in various music genres, from soulful ballads to upbeat dance tracks. This resulted in her having fans from diverse backgrounds.
All in all, Anita was a trailblazer in Asia’s entertainment industry, especially for female artistes in Hong Kong. She broke barriers and achieved great success in a male-dominated industry, inspiring future generations of female performers.
Even after her demise, Anita’s music and contributions to the entertainment world continue to be celebrated and the latest exhibition in Hong Kong is ample testimony of that legacy.
Anita’s songs remain highly popular. They include “Bad Girl”, which is one of her most famous and enduring hits as its catchy melody and rebellious lyrics made it a signature song for her.
Another of her songs, “Wind Blows in the Rainy Night”, is known for its haunting melody and poignant lyrics while “Homecoming” a touching ballad for the Chinese diaspora and “Like Last Night” is a popular romantic ballad. “I Just Want to Love” is a heartfelt love song that showcases her emotional vocal delivery while “Rebellion” exemplifies her rebellious spirit through a rock-influenced sound.
During her heyday, she has starred in films featuring movie icons like Michelle Yeoh, Jackie Chan, Stephen Chow and Leslie Cheung, to name a few.
All said, her influence especially on Cantopop is still being felt. May your legacy live on, Anita!
Jeff Yong, with many years of journalism experience behind him and an eye for the quirky as well, re-lives his passion for writing columns in Weekly Echo after having done so with New Thrill & The Malaysian Post many eons ago.