Dick Lee

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Dick Lee
Chinese name
Pinyin Lǐ Díwén (Mandarin)
Jyutping lei5 di2 man4 (Cantonese)
Born (1956-08-24) 24 August 1956 (age 61)
Other names Richard Lee Peng Boon
Origin Hokkien (Fujian Province)
Occupation Singer, composer, songwriter, playwright
Years active 1971–present
Genre(s) Cantopop, musical theatre
Website www.dicklee.com

Richard "Dick" Lee Peng Boon (born 24 August 1956) is a Singaporean pop singer, composer, songwriter, and playwright. He is best known as a Singapore Idol judge, but often too as spokesperson for the New Asian generation.

He was born to a Peranakan father, Lee Kip Lee, (who wrote for The Straits Times), and a Chinese mother, Elizabeth Tan. He was the eldest child in the family of five, with three brothers and a deceased sister. He received his early education at St. Michael's School (now SJI Junior) and his secondary education at St. Joseph's Institution. In 1992, he married jazz singer Jacintha Abisheganaden and divorced a few years later. He is a Roman Catholic.


Early years[edit]

Dick Lee started his career in 1971 when, at the age of fifteen, Dick participated in various talent contests with the group, Harmony, and Dick and the Gang (teaming with his siblings). His first album, Life Story, featuring his compositions, was released in 1974.

Throughout the 70s and 80s, Dick championed the acceptance of Asian elements in pop music. His pioneering album, Life in the Lion City (1984), won acclaim for just that. But the album that shot him to regional prominence was his 1989 release, The Mad Chinaman. Dick has also won several awards in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. In 1983, he co-produced Zircon Lounge's debut album Regal Vigour.

The 90s[edit]

In 1990, Dick moved to Japan where he continued to develop the new Asian identity through his solo work, as well as collaborations with top Asian artistes like Tracy Huang aka 黃鶯鶯 and Sandy Lam aka 林憶蓮 from Taipei Inner Music aka 翠禧工作室, Hong Kong and Japanese group Zoo. He has to date, written countless songs for the top singing talents in Asia.

Dick's album, Transit Lounge, released under the Sony Label, won both critical and popular praise during the same time when he was also the regional Vice-President of Artiste and Repertoire for Sony Music Asia, based in Hong Kong from 1998 to 2000. Dick's most recent album, Everything, released in November 2000 under Sony Music, features a rare collection of his works written since the 1970s. In December 2001, Dick and his friend Leonard T contributed a song to a charity CD – Love Is The Answer For Kids With Aids, KK Outreach for Kids Fund. The song "It All Begins With Love" is heard frequently in Singapore's radio stations.

Plays and musicals[edit]

Dick is also passionate about musicals. He has written many staged musicals including Beauty World (1988), Fried Rice Paradise (1991), Kampong Amber (1994), Sing to the Dawn (1996), Hotpants (1997), Jacky Cheung's acclaimed Snow.Wolf.Lake (1997), Nagraland (1992), Puteri Gunung Ledang (2006) and P. Ramlee (2007). Dick continues his love for theatre by being Associate Artiste Director of the Singapore Repertory Theatre, an appointment he has held since 1998.

For 2000, Dick composed the songs to the musical of Phua Chu Kang, a highly popular sitcom, for the Singapore President's Star Charity Drive. Produced and broadcast by Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS), now known as Mediacorp Studios (MCS), the musical raised over a record-setting $2 million.

In 2002 he wrote and co-directed his first dance musical re:MIX for Singapore Repertory Theatre Young Company (SRT Young Company), as well as a specially commissioned work, Forbidden City: Portrait of An Empress, one of the highlights of Singapore's prestigious new cultural centre, The Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay opening festival in October that year and a popular re-run in September 2003, and again in 2006. It was directed by Steven Dexter and will go on a world tour in 2008, with the first stop being London's West End.

New millennium[edit]

A dream come true for Dick was to be appointed the Creative Director for Singapore's 2002 National Day Parade. Coincidentally, his song "We Will Get There" was selected to be 2002 theme song for the parade. Top Singapore-born Chinese pop superstar Stefanie Sun performed the song and also included it in her own top-selling album. This was his second National Day theme song, having written "Home", performed by Kit Chan, in 1998.

In 2003, he penned the English lyrics of "Treasure The World", the image song of J-ASEAN campaign by The Japan Foundation. Artistes from Japan and 10 ASEAN countries recorded this song for the campaign in English and their respective native languages. In July 2003, the highest honour to Dick's works came in the form of the prestigious Fukuoka Arts and Culture Prize, an award by the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize committee to recognise an individual's substantial contributions to the arts scene in Asia.

Lee wrote an autobiography, The Adventures of the Mad Chinaman, in 2004.

In 2004, he joined Singapore Idol as a judge alongside fellow Singaporeans Florence Lian and Ken Lim. He also returned as a judge for Singapore Idol for the second and third seasons in 2006 and 2009 respectively.

On 17 and 18 December 2004, Lee held a 30th anniversary concert, titled Life Stories at the Kallang Theatre. Guest stars included Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah and runner up Sylvester Sim, Kumar, ex-wife Jacintha, Koh Chieng Mun, Hossan Leong, and others.

In 2009, he penned the theme song for the APEC Singapore 2009 summit which was performed in front of world leaders such as Barack Obama by Kit Chan during the Singapore Evening at the APEC Singapore 2009 summit on 14 November 2009 at the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. He was also the director of the 30-minute musical extravaganza involving 376 Singaporean artistes in a concert extravaganza enhanced by multimedia projections.[1]

In 2010, Lee was the Creative Director of Singapore's 44th National Day Parade.

In 2011, Lee returned with The Adventures of the Mad China man, a concert, and Beauty Kings, an original comedy play.[2]

In 2012, Lee opened MAD (Modern Asian Diner) in Singapore. It is a 5-way partnership with 4 other homegrown local companies namely Tung Lok group, Bakerzin, Bar Stories and Top Wines. Lee also performed — and was a character — in TheatreWorksNational Broadway Company production for the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay's 10th anniversary celebrations.

In 2013, Lee returned to musicals by composing the 90-minute LightSeeker, which premiered at Resorts World Sentosa. He was also named a Steinway Artist and became Creative Director of the revamped Rediffusion Singapore radio station.[3]

In 2014, Lee held a concert, Dick Lee: Celebrating 40 Years In Music, at the Drama Centre.[4] In the same year, a revamped version of his 1997 musical Hotpants was restaged.[5] After his third stint as National Day Parade's Creative Director, Lee will return to helm 2015's golden jubilee show; and he has been tasked to write the next big National Day song.[6]

In 2015, Dick Lee was the creative director of Singapore 50th National Day Parade, also he created 2015's NDP theme song, "Our Singapore" which will perform later on 9 Aug by JJ Lin.

Fashion Interest[edit]

Apart from music, Dick's other passion is for fashion, having studied fashion design at Harrow School of Art in London. His interest began at the early age of 16 when he designed for his mother's boutique Midteen.

His fashion career has taken him to Carrie Models, where he scouted and trained the top Singapore models, and designing his own labels for his boutique Ping Pong, as well as in Hemispheres, the first young designer store he set up with a partner.

Other forays in the fashion world include Display Director for Tangs departmental store in 1984, fashion editor of Female magazine in 1986 and one of the founders of the Society of Designing Arts, which spearheaded the introduction of Singapore designers to the local fashion market.[7]

From 1982–1990, Dick also ran his own event company Runway Productions, which specialised in fashion and tourism events. His company also had a hand in the creation of the Boom Boom Room, a successful cabaret featuring the now renowned talents of drag comedian Kumar.

Dick Lee chaired the 2011 Audi Fashion Festival,[7] and in 2014, he was named brand ambassador for Audi Singapore.[8]

On the platform of his musical talent, Dick has always been actively involved in fund-raising projects for several beneficiaries including Singapore Repertory Theatre, KK Children's Hospital, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Church of St Ignatius.


Year Award
1995 The Perfect 10 Music Achievement Award for outstanding contribution in the Singapore Music scene, by Singapore's leading radio station, Perfect 10.

Best Original Film Song in the Hong Kong Film Award for his song, The Search of My Life, which was selected as the theme song for the hit movie, He's a Woman, She's a Man, starring Leslie Cheung and Anita Yuen.

1998 Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) Awards for Top Local English Pop Song and Top Local Composer of the Year[9]
1999 Best Original Film Song in the Hong Kong Film Award for the theme song of the movie City of Glass, starring Leon Lai and Shu Qi.

Compass Awards for Artiste Excellence, Top Local Chinese Pop Song and Top Local Composer of the Year[9]

2000 Compass Award for Top Local Composer of the Year[9]
2001 Compass Award for Top Local Composer of the Year[9]
2003 Fukuoka Asian Culture Awards: Arts Award
2004 Compass Award for Best Malay Pop Song
2005 Cultural Medallion Award Winner
2006 Compass Award for Top Local Composer of the Year
2013 Compass Award for Top Local English Pop Song ("Home")[9]


Year Album
1974 Life Story
1979 Single – Internationaland
1984 Life in the Lion City

Return To Beauty World

1985 Fried Rice Paradise
1986 The Songs From Long Ago
1988 Connections
1989 The Mad Chinaman

When I Play

1990 Asiamajor
1991 Orientalism
1993 The Year of The Monkey

Peace Life Love
Life Story
Hong Kong Rhapsody

1994 Compass
1995 Secret Island
1996 Singapop
1999 Transit Lounge
2000 Everything
2003 Rice
2004 Life (Compilation English album)
2004 Stories (Compilation Chinese album)
2010 Life Deluxe
2014 40th Anniversary Collection


  1. ^ Singapore Evening at The Esplanade – A showcase of Singapore’s unique culture and creative talents
  2. ^ Dick Lee's Fantastic Entertainment Archived 22 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Martin, Mayo (11 September 2013). "Dick Lee back in musical limelight with LightSeeker". MediaCorp. TODAY. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Cheong, Suk Wai (1 September 2014). "Concert review: Dick Lee takes jibes at Singapore but also reaffirms affection for country". Singapore Press Holdings. The Straits Times. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Ting, Lisabel (16 August 2014). "Theatre review: Dick Lee's revamped Hotpants is tighter and funkier". Singapore Press Holdings. The Straits Times. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  6. ^ Chow, Jermyn (11 August 2014). "Dick Lee to write 'the next Home' for S'pore's 50th NDP". Singapore Press Holdings. The Straits Times. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Jufri, Zaki (19 November 2010). "Dick Lee to chair 2011 Audi Fashion Festival". SG Magazine Online. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  8. ^ Tay, Cheryl (14 February 2015). "Dick Lee: The music man's defining presence". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Shetty, Deepika (30 September 2013). "Dick Lee wins Compass prize for Home - 15 years after it was written". The Straits Times. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 

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