International music star Leehom Wang, known as the King of Chinese Pop, returned to his musical roots in Boston recently for a spectacular performance of his classic songs at Boston Symphony Hall. A 1999 alumnus of the Berklee College of Music, Leehom invited onstage with him an international cast of student musicians from Berklee for the performance.
With over 60 million social media followers, Leehom has won numerous music awards, including multiple Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan, comparable to the Grammy Awards in U.S. From Tony Bennett to Westlife and Aviici, Leehom has expanded his popularity across the globe by collaborating with world-renowned musicians.
What drives this singer-songwriter, music producer, actor, film director, and cultural ambassador back to Berklee? It is Leehom’s enduring commitment to connecting people from different cultures through music and his mission of helping aspiring Chinese musicians realize their musical dreams.
“One of the most important things for the safety and security of the century is the relationship between the east and west, and Leehom is the ambassador who can help us build that,” said Roger H. Brown, president of Berklee College of Music, who awarded Mr. Wang an honorary Doctor of Music degree in recognition of his achievements.
In the acceptance speech, Leehom confessed, “That’s why we make music – to connect people.” He encouraged all of the Chinese music lovers and future musicians to be ambassadors and to build bridges between the east and west.
To help make that a reality, Leehom and Berklee have created a full scholarship in Wang Leehom’s name for Chinese students to attend Berklee, with part of the proceeds from the concert going to the scholarship foundation. The scholarship will be presented next year in China.
Since graduating from Berklee, Leehom has committed himself to transforming the landscape of China’s pop music with his hybrid blending of pop, rock, jazz, R&B, hip-hop, classical and traditional Chinese melodies. No doubt, Berklee’s long history of working with diverse musical traditions from cultures all over the world partly inspired Leehom’s genre-hopping creation.
“He’s a strong role model for our students – in him we see the possibilities for young, international musicians who come to Berklee, gain the tools and skills they need, and return to their roots, enriching the world and its music,” said Matthew Nicholl, associate vice president for Global Studies.
Berklee has been a destination for international musicians since its founding in 1945. Today, nearly 36% of all Berklee students are from outside the U.S.
With over 100 colleges and universities, Massachusetts is considered a global hub of top-tier education, attracting students from around the world. The Berklee College of Music, which has alumni from over 40 countries, is a place where aspiring musicians can explore opportunities and possibilities here in Massachusetts, just like Leehom Wang did.