2019 Honorary Doctorate
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Mr Cheung Hok-yau Jacky is not only a household name but someone who is highly respected by professionals in the entertainment industry. His artistic journey began in 1984 when he beat 20,000 contestants in the Amateur 18-Hong Kong District Singing Contest and was signed by Polygram Records, which was later renamed Universal Music Hong Kong.
His rapid rise in Hong Kong, the Mainland and also Asia earned him the nickname “God of Songs”, with two albums released in 1992, True Love Expression and Love Sparks, each selling over 400,000 copies in Hong Kong alone. This was more than matched by his 1993 release, The Goodbye Kiss, which remains the best-selling album in many countries, with aggregate sales in Asia exceeding 4 million copies. Recognition followed, with induction into Universal Music Group’s Hall of Fame in 2000 and being named one of the “25 most impactful individuals in the new Hong Kong” by Time Magazine in 1996.
Mr Cheung is no stranger to music award ceremonies, whether in Hong Kong or overseas. After being crowned The Most Popular Singer in Asia at the 1994 US Billboard Music Awards, he went on to win two prestigious titles, namely, The Best-selling Asian Pop Musician in the World and The World’s Best-selling Chinese Singer, at Monaco’s World Music Awards in 1995 and 1996. His concert in Madison Square Garden in New York made him a record-breaker, as he became the first Asian singer to perform at this landmark venue.
Mr Cheung’s stellar career as a film actor is also noteworthy. Having starred in some 60 movies, he has impressed silver screen lovers with countless memorable characters and his acting has earned him many nominations and awards over the years. He is a two-time recipient of Best Supporting Actor, winning at the 8th Hong Kong Film Awards in 1998 for his performance in As Tears Go By and at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards in 1990 for his performance in The Swordsman. With five Best Actor nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards, he was honoured with this title at the New Delhi Film Festival in 2002 for Ann Hui’s July Rhapsody.
In 1997, Mr Cheung, taking on the dual roles of artistic director and leading actor, embarked on a new initiative with his original musical Snow. Wolf. Lake, which played to 42 consecutive full houses in Hong Kong, still a record today. The Putonghua version, which premiered in 2004, ran for 103 performances and remains the record-holder in the history of Chinese musicals in terms of the number of shows. In The Year of Jacky Cheung World Tour in 2007, he became the first Chinese singer to stage 105 concerts in 58 cities in a year. This record was broken in 2010, when the Jacky Cheung 1/2 Century World Tour was staged. A whopping 146 concerts were held in 77 cities over 18 months. In the process, Mr Cheung set a Guinness World Record for the largest combined audience for a live act in a 12-month period. His latest record-setting world tour Jacky Cheung A Classic Tour, which began in Beijing on 21 October 2016 and ended in Hong Kong on 29 January 2019, comprised 233 shows in 97 cities across two years and three months.
Mr Cheung, who has been assiduous in his support of promising youngsters, stays humble despite his unprecedented success in the performing arts. In 2013, to show his support for Academy students, he volunteered to take part in the film A Complicated Story, the first thesis production of the Master of Fine Arts in Film Production Class in the Academy’s School of Film and Television. His acting and participation not only added colour to the movie, but also served as a great encouragement to all the students involved. This cooperation, together with all his many other achievements, was acknowledged when the Academy conferred an honorary fellowship on him in 2015. In 2018, he attended the Graduation Ceremony of the Academy and delivered a speech to graduating students who were about to set off on their artistic adventure. These graduates were greatly touched and inspired by his words, in which he expressed his passion for the performing arts.
In recognition of his long-standing public service and participation in charity events, Mr Cheung was elected one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) of Hong Kong and the World in 1998 and 1999 respectively. Another honour came in 2000 at RTHK’s Top Ten Chinese Gold Songs Awards, where he received the Golden Needle Award, a de facto lifetime achievement award for his tremendous musical significance and immense contributions to society.