Four shining examples

Four shining examples

Hong Kong's a cappella group C AllStar want the positive messages in their music to inspire youth

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Jase Ho, Andy Leung, Kenny Chan and King Wu during an interview at Think Cafe in Causeway Bay.
Jase Ho, Andy Leung, Kenny Chan and King Wu during an interview at Think Cafe in Causeway Bay.
Photo: Felix Wong/SCMP
Many Canto-pop stars sing sad songs in which they bare their souls about their heartbreak over a terrible break-ups, and the "me-against-the-world" moment when relationship problems take over their emotions.

However, local group C AllStar - Kenny Chan, Jase Ho, King Wu and Andy Leung - prefers its music to convey a positive message in the increasingly materialistic city.

The four a cappella performers have certainly struck a chord, with a string of hit records since they were formed more than three years ago. Their experiences of the pressures of stardom, and highs and lows of showbusiness led them to be invited recently to be creative ambassadors of the City University of Hong Kong's Leap Through Time: 'Paint-on-Picture Competition. The group recorded an inspirational video message for contestants.

The members of C AllStar first met at a singing contest in 2009. They were pitted against one another. All four semi-finalists knew that only one winner of the contest would secure a contract with a record label.

However, their intense rivalry created such sparkling on-stage chemistry that - instead of giving one person the winning contract - the record company signed up all four of them as a group, which was later named C AllStar.

The four became an outspoken, inspirational a cappella group that is admired by many in Hong Kong. Since its debut, the group has recorded songs that raise awareness about important and pressing issues.

The quartet's smash hit, Sky Ladder, tells an epic love story, which helps educate people that any form of love deserves respect. The group's other single, Minority, reveals the inconvenient truth of how people from different backgrounds are marginalised by society; the group's slogan is "Live as one".

C AllStar beatboxer Wu says the four members passionately believe that there should be less fighting and war in the world. "We're all human; we're all equal," he says.

Leung adds: "We want to tell those people in the minority not to be afraid because a lot of people support them."

One of the band's most popular singles is 80s Song. Chan says: "We did this song because the term '80s' borns' was so popular at the time. It was about how we see ourselves as part of the 80s' borns."

From the start, the band has been keen to preach positive messages. All four members believe music must reflect what is going on in society.

Music is a more powerful and persuasive tool in raising awareness that written texts, they believe "It's easier to convey a message through music than words alone," Wu says. "You can write an article to comment on certain issues, but it's not as simple and easy for people to absorb and remember as it is through music."

The quartet has always looked totally professional when performing during the past three years, but the members admit they felt quite lost at the start and are still learning how to improve.

Initially, they needed lots of help and ideas from music producers and writers, but now they are contributing their own ideas, and also writing their own songs. Two of them, Wu and Chan, are also preparing for starring roles in the musical, Love Letter, which will run from April 25 to 28.

Next month the band will play a mini concert for fans at the Polytechnic University.

Bass singer Ho says the group's success can inspire Hongkongers who wish to become singers.

"If you have a dream, say, to become a singer, you don't necessarily have to work in the industry," he says. "Don't limit yourself by being too realistic too soon; ask what you really want."

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