Living the stuff of his dreams

TALL, suave and handsome. At 32, Zhang Zhen Hong will literally and metaphorically sweep any girl off her feet. If she’s not swayed by his prowess on the dance floor, she'll likely be won over by serenades and Canto pop.

But it's not just all salsa and showmanship. A respectable professional, Zhang holds a full-time job as a legal manager at a public listed company. His passion for law is equal to that for dance and song.

Pursuing a career as a singer did not seem a promising career for Zhang who is the second of four children from a traditional Chinese family. So he dutifully packed his bag and left for England to obtain his law degree.

Promising start: Zhang, who won his first singing contest a the age of eight, has finally released his own album.
“At the time, the typical Chinese mindset was that only lawyers, accountants and doctors made good money. But fortunately, I did have a strong interest in law and it was something that I wanted to pursue,” says the graduate from Exeter University.

Even while he was memorising cases and having his fill of Acts and provisions, he managed to take time off from the grind and put on his dancing shoes.

“I was reading law and taking dancing lessons at the same time!” says Zhang who now teaches salsa and hip-hop during weekends as a hobby.

Now that he earns a comfortable salary as a legal manager, his aim is to achieve his childhood dreams.

Born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, Zhang was just a few years old when it was clear that he had a talent for singing. However, his parents didn't take it seriously as they felt it was natural for most children to hum and sing along to songs.

Zhang took part in his first singing contest at the age of eight and won second place with a rendition of Mun Sui Qin San Zhong Xi Qing.

“I sing whenever I get the chance, in the shower, at home, in my car, at music studios and karaokes. It’s just in me. I love singing,” shares Zhang, who loves Canto-pop and Japanese pop music.

“Everyone has a childhood dream and mine is to sing and release albums,” he says, citing Tamaki Koji (lead singer of Anzenchitai) as his favourite Japanese singer.

“I was very active in musicals in my high school days and have had lead roles in My Fair Lady, and West Side Story.”

After returning to Malaysia with a law degree, Zhang got himself a job and continued taking singing classes after work and even managed to take part in the singing contest organised by the Malaysian Philharmonic Society in 2004.

“I was a finalist at the contest and I sang a song by Glen Mederos titled Nothing Is Going to Change My Love for You,” says Zhang who started composing at the age of 16 and wrote his first song to a girl he liked. Like a sad song, his romance didn't take off.

He managed to get a few production houses to help him produce his first album Shou Hou, which was released just a week ago.

When asked why a Chinese album, Zhang replied: “I grew up with Chinese music and am more inclined to sing in Chinese.”

“It took me three years to come up with this album. My work schedule is hectic and I can only record during my free time.”

He says he composed the entire melody in the album and wrote half of the lyrics. His inspiration came from poems, articles, and personal experiences.

“It’s comforting that I am finally able to release my first album and realise my childhood dream. I will continue producing more albums,” enthuses Zhang.

“I am living my dreams!”

The Star


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