China Wine has resurfaced. Not the alcoholic beverage but the English single by Ms Ho Yeow Sun. You know the one: The video has images of her gyrating furiously to the music in a low-cut, midriff-baring top and nothing shorts.
When the video made its rounds on social media in 2012 after news of the fund-misuse charges against City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee - Ho's husband - and five other church leaders broke, the local netizen community went wild. But not in a good way. Horror, scorn and disdain were the primary reactions; at their mildest, puzzlement and scepticism at how such a song could help spread the gospel.
On Aug 12, Kong, who faces three charges of criminal breach of trust for allegedly misusing church funds, took the stand. While outlining the plan to break Ms Ho into the US music market as part of a church effort to evangelise using her pop music, revelations about the provocative China Wine single surfaced:
1. In 2006, Wyclef Jean, a Haitian hip-hop recording artiste, was roped in to help Ms Ho. He suggested doing away with the songs that had already been recorded for her debut English album. The reason? They sounded "too white, Caucasian", and she would not stand out from other singers also trying to make a mark in the United States.
2. Jean recommended that Ms Ho go for a new Asian-Reggae fusion sound. This eventually led to the making of China Wine. The noted music producer had earlier created a similar Latino-Reggae sound with pop star Shakira. The explosive hit Hips Don't Lie was the result of the collaboration.
3. China Wine was not the only song Jean recorded with Ms Ho. It was just one in a series of 12 to 13 songs.
4. According to Kong, both he and Ms Ho were both "uncomfortable" with China Wine, even though it was deemed a success and the brainchild of Wyclef Jean, as it did not fit the image Ms Ho wanted as a pop artiste. Jean left the project in 2008 after negotiations over his asking price broke down.
5. The album which featured China Wine was supposed to have been publicised on popular TV shows such as Gossip Girl, CSI and Dancing With The Stars if its big launch had taken place as originally planned.
This article was first published on August 15, 2014.
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