The Most Famous

SINGERS from China

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This page contains a list of the greatest Chinese Singers. The pantheon dataset contains 4,381 Singers, 21 of which were born in China. This makes China the birth place of the 37th most number of Singers behind Greece, and Serbia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Chinese Singers of all time. This list of famous Chinese Singers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Chinese Singers.

Photo of Peng Liyuan

1. Peng Liyuan (b. 1962)

With an HPI of 57.62, Peng Liyuan is the most famous Chinese Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 41 different languages on wikipedia.

Peng Liyuan (Chinese: 彭丽媛; pinyin: Péng Lìyuán; born 20 November 1962) is a Chinese contemporary folk singer and the wife of Xi Jinping, current General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President of the People's Republic of China. Peng gained popularity as a singer from her regular appearances on the annual CCTV New Year's Gala, a widely viewed Chinese television program that airs during the Chinese New Year. She won honors in singing competitions nationwide. Her most famous singles include People from Our Village, Zhumulangma, and On the Field of Hope. Peng also sang the theme songs of several popular TV series, such as The Water Margin (1998). In 1986, she received the Plum Blossom Award, China's highest theatrical award, for her lead role in The White Haired Girl. She was the president of then People's Liberation Army Academy of Art between 2012 and 2017, and vice president of the All-China Youth Federation between 2005 and 2010. She is known within China for her fashion sense, credited to her personal couturier Ma Ke. In 2014, Peng was listed as the 57th Most Powerful Woman in the World by Forbes.

Photo of Mei Lanfang

2. Mei Lanfang (1894 - 1961)

With an HPI of 57.55, Mei Lanfang is the 2nd most famous Chinese Singer.  His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Mei Lan (22 October 1894 – 8 August 1961), better known by his stage name Mei Lanfang, was a notable Chinese Peking opera artist in modern Chinese theater. Mei was known as the "Queen of Peking Opera". Mei was exclusively known for his female lead roles (dan) and particularly his "verdant-robed girls" (qingyi), young or middle-aged women of grace and refinement. He was considered one of the "Four Great Dan", along with Shang Xiaoyun, Cheng Yanqiu, and Xun Huisheng.

Photo of Sam Hui

3. Sam Hui (b. 1948)

With an HPI of 53.54, Sam Hui is the 3rd most famous Chinese Singer.  His biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Samuel Hui Koon-kit (born 6 September 1948), usually known as Sam Hui, is a Hong Kong musician, singer, songwriter and actor. He is credited with popularising Cantopop both via the infusion of Western-style music and his usage of vernacular Cantonese rather than written vernacular Chinese in biting lyrics that addressed contemporary problems and concerns. Hui is considered by some to be the first major superstar of Cantopop, known as the God of Song. As an actor, he is well-known for portraying the main character "King Kong" in five installments of the Aces Go Places film series. Hui was born in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China in 1948. His parents were both musicians; his father was a traditional Chinese musician while his mother was a Chinese opera singer. In 1950, along with his three older brothers, Michael, Ricky, and Stanley, Hui and his parents arrived in Hong Kong as refugees in 1950, originally living in Diamond Hill. Hui graduated from the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Hong Kong, Ying Wa College and St. Francis Xavier's College, Tai Kok Tsui in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Hui worked with Michael and Ricky on several comedies in the early 1970s. Hui has also gained credit for popularising Cantopop, by incorporating the idiosyncrasies of Western popular music into the old Cantopop genre. In the 1960s, Hui began his singing career. In 1967, Hui joined record label Diamond Records. Hui started his television career as a host on a youth music TV show on the TVB network. Hui and his brother Michael Hui became hosts in the Hui Brothers Show, which premiered on April 23, 1971. Hui became the lead musician of a band The Lotus. In the 1970s, Hui performed English songs that were popular in Britain and the United States. He wrote the theme songs for the comedies produced by his brother, Michael Hui, and started performing Cantonese songs. Sam Hui's first Cantonese hit, "Eiffel Tower Above the Clouds" (鐵塔凌雲) – originally titled "Here and Now" (就此模樣) – was first played on the Hui Brothers Show in April 1972. Hui signed a contract with Polydor and produced his first single in English, "April Lady". Hui's first Cantonese album, Games Gamblers Play (Chinese: 鬼馬雙星; Jyutping: gwai2 maa5 soeng1 sing1; Cantonese Yale: gwái máh sēung sīng; lit. 'Ghost Horse (Cantonese slang for "Goofy") Twin Stars'), was the partial soundtrack to the Michael Hui-directed film of the same name. This album became popular, selling 200,000 copies, and was one of the major musical works that helped to start the popularity of Cantopop. Hui's music gained popular appeal, particularly with the working class, for its simplicity and the relevance of the lyrics. A prolific songwriter, a noted recurring theme in his music is that it often describes or humorously satirises Hong Kong society and events. In 1976, Hui's singing and acting career took off after the release of the breakout album The Private Eyes, the soundtrack to the 1976 film The Private Eyes. In the album The Private Eyes, it humorously reflected on the harsh realities of middle and lower-income Hong Kongers. Others such as "Song of Water Use" (制水歌), which referenced the days of water rationing during the 1960s, and "Could Not Care Less About 1997" (話知你97), which encouraged Hong Kong people to adopt a carpe diem attitude instead of worrying about the imminent handover to the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997, were more topical in nature and referenced local events. While some of his songs are lighthearted, others carried philosophical messages brought out through artful use of Chinese words that have multiple symbolism. Examples can be seen in his farewell song in 1992 and "From the Heart of a Loafer" (浪子心聲), where for Cantopop, the sophisticated language and messages were rare in the lyrics of contemporary artists. On June 17, 1979, Hui became the first singer from Hong Kong to perform at the Tokyo Music Festival. Hui signed a contract with Golden Harvest in 1971. On a personal note, Hui is closer to his middle brother Ricky (deceased 8 November 2011) than to their oldest brother Michael. Sam and Michael reportedly fell out with each other after their pre-1985 successes. However, in Michael's Chicken and Duck Talk (1988), Hui appeared in a short 1-minute cameo, playing the role of himself as master of ceremonies at the grand opening of Danny's Chicken, and contributed to its theme song for its end credits entitled "You Have Your Say" (你有你講). Then in 1990, the three brothers reunited in Front Page, a lampoon on Hong Kong's sometimes over-zealous entertainment news industry. Hui also collaborated with several popular singers such as Leslie Cheung both musically and on-screen culminating in the hit single written by Hui and composed by Cheung entitled Silence is Golden (沉默是金), which Cheung also sung as a solo track on his 1987 album, Hot Summer, as well as the catchy tune, I've Never Been Afraid (我未驚過) in 1989 as the end theme for Aces Go Places 5: The Terracotta Hit. Hui also starred in the Aces Go Places, a series of Hong Kong action–comedies in the 1980s, with Karl Maka. He was once seriously injured while filming The Legend of Wisely in Tibet due to lack of oxygen, thereafter falling very ill and many of his fans pointed out that this near fatal accident may have been pivotal on his decision to retire as they superstitiously believed that he was haunted by a spirit. During the late 1980s, Hui's father advised him to retire to avoid the stresses he endured from hosting concerts. Hui's "lack of oxygen" suffered on a previous film, was actually carbon monoxide poisoning. His mother purportedly also had reservations about his performing, including that he might injure himself on stage. A Hong Kong concert in 1990 supposedly marked his early retirement, however Hui then agreed to host a 42-show concert series. Around the time of the 30th show, Hui's father died but despite his grief, he continued to host. In 1991 to 1992, Hui held a many farewell concerts. Hui hosted a total of 14 shows in Hong Kong preempting his actual retirement. Hui is known as the Canto-pop godfather and the Elvis Presley of Hong Kong. Hui also hosted shows in Canada, in Vancouver, at the Pacific Coliseum, and Toronto, Ontario, which he dedicated to his late father. Despite reiterating his plans for retirement, Hui came back for a short stint in the movie Winner Takes All co-starring Nicholas Tse and Ruby Lin. This he maintained, was a result of being unable to ignore his heart's desire. Widely acclaimed as the "God of Song" in Hong Kong (the first singer to be so acknowledged), he decided to come out of retirement in 2004 and held multiple comeback concerts in which he was welcomed by a Hong Kong public at sell-out shows. In these concerts, he paid tribute to his recent passed close colleagues, Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui in 2003 and claimed that their deaths had influenced his decision to return to performing, culminating in his 2004 comeback song '04 Bless You ('04 祝福你). Hui performed in a concert in Kuala Lumpur on 19 and 20 February 2005 with his brother, Ricky Hui, and sons but has not made active plans for any follow-ups. He also performed in Vancouver on 15 December 2005 and in Singapore on 29 March 2008. In 2007, Hui signed with EC Music and released his first album in 17 years, named "Life is Good" (人生多麼好). In December 1971, Hui married Rebecca "Rebu" Fleming, a Filipino-American. They have two sons, Ryan Hui and Scott Hui. Hui and his family live in Hong Kong. Ryan Hui is a singer-songwriter and has released several albums, and Scott Hui is a film director. 1974 Chinese: 鬼馬雙星 1975 The Last Message (Chinese: 天才與白痴) 1976 The Private Eyes Chinese: 半斤八兩 1978 Fortune God Comes (Chinese: 財神到) 1978 The Contract (Chinese: 賣身契) 1979 Chinese: 79夏日之歌集 1980 Chinese: 念奴嬌 1981 Security Unlimited (摩登保鑣) 1982 Chinese: 難忘您‧紙船 1983 Chinese: 最佳拍檔大顯神通 1983 Chinese: 新的開始 1984 Chinese: 最喜歡你 1985 Chinese: 最緊要好玩 1986 Chinese: 熱力之冠 1986 Chinese: 宇宙無限 1987 Band Chinese: 潮流興夾 1987 Chinese: 許冠傑新曲與精選 1988 Sam and Friends 1989 Chinese: 許冠傑 歌集 1990 Chinese: 香港情懷 1990 Chinese: 電影金曲精選 2004 Chinese: 歌神與您繼續微笑 2007 Chinese: 人生多麼好 1971 Time of the Season 1974 Morning After 1975 Interlude 1977 Came Travelling 1973 Back Alley Princess (馬路小英雄) 1973 The Tattooed Dragon (龍虎金剛) 1974 Chinatown Capers (小英雄大鬧唐人街) 1974 Naughty! Naughty! (綽頭狀元) – Wu Te-chuan, a conman. 1974 Games Gamblers Play (鬼馬雙星) 1975 The Last Message (天才與白痴) 1976 The Private Eyes (半斤八兩) 1978 The Contract (賣身契) 1981 Security Unlimited (摩登保鑣) 1982 Aces Go Places (最佳拍檔) 1983 Aces Go Places 2 (最佳拍檔大顯神通) 1984 Aces Go Places 3 (最佳拍檔之女皇密令) 1984 A Family Affair (全家福) 1985 Working Class (打工皇帝) 1986 Aces Go Places IV (最佳拍檔千里救差婆) 1987 The Legend of Wisely (衛斯理傳奇) – as Producer. 1988 Chicken and Duck Talk (雞同鴨講) – Cameo 1989 Aces Go Places 5: The Terracotta Hit (新最佳拍檔) 1990 The Dragon from Russia (紅場飛龍) 1990 The Swordsman (笑傲江湖) – Ling Wu Chung 1990 Front Page (新半斤八兩) 1993 Laughter of the Water Margins (水滸笑傳) 1993 All's Well, Ends Well Too (花田囍事) 2000 Winner Takes All (大贏家) List of graduates of University of Hong Kong Chik, Alice (2010). "Creative multilingualism in Hong Kong popular music". World Englishes. 29 (4): 508–522. doi:10.1111/j.1467-971x.2010.01678.x. ISSN 0883-2919. Chu, Yiu-Wai (2017). Hong Kong Cantopop: A Concise History. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 978-988-8390-57-1. Man, Oi Kuen, Ivy (1998). Cantonese popular song in Hong Kong in the 1970s: an examination of musical content and social context in selected case studies (PDF) (M. Phil. thesis). Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong. doi:10.5353/th_b3122147 (inactive 12 April 2024). hdl:10722/33989.{{cite thesis}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of April 2024 (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) Yip, Pui Yee (1994). The uses of Sam Hui : an investigation of the formation of cultural identity in Hong Kong (PDF) (M. Phil. thesis). Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Graduate School. Official website Samuel Hui at IMDb Sam's latest album's official site

Photo of Shi Pei Pu

4. Shi Pei Pu (1938 - 2009)

With an HPI of 50.49, Shi Pei Pu is the 4th most famous Chinese Singer.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Shi Pei Pu (Chinese: 时佩璞; pinyin: Shí Pèipú; 21 December 1938 – 30 June 2009) was a Chinese opera singer from Beijing. He became a spy and obtained secrets from Bernard Boursicot, an employee in the French embassy, during a 20-year-long sexual affair in which the performer convinced Boursicot that he was a woman. He claimed to have had a child that he insisted had been born through their relations. The story made headlines in France when the facts were revealed. The affair inspired American David Henry Hwang's play M. Butterfly (1988), which was produced on Broadway. It was adapted as the 1993 film of the same title.

Photo of Yao Lee

5. Yao Lee (1922 - 2019)

With an HPI of 48.12, Yao Lee is the 5th most famous Chinese Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Yao Lee (Chinese: 姚莉; 10 September 1922 – 19 July 2019), also credited as Yao Li, Yiu Lei and Hue Lee, was a Chinese singer active from the 1930s to the 1970s. She was the sister of Yao Min, also a famous singer and songwriter. She was considered one of the Seven Great Singing Stars of Shanghai in the 1940s. Born Yáo Xiùyún (Mandarin)/Yiu Sau Wan (Cantonese) (姚秀雲) and raised in Shanghai, Yao began performing on the radio in 1935 at the age of 13. When she was 14, she recorded her first single with Yàn Húa (嚴華) called "New Little Cowherd" (新小放牛, Xin xiao fang niu). After being introduced by singers Zhou Xuan and Yan Hua, she was signed to Pathé Records when she was 16 in 1937, and the first record she released with the label was "Yearning for Sale" (賣相思, Mai Xiang Si). She married Wong Po Lo (黃保羅) in 1947 and stopped performing to devote time to her family. Following the Communist seizure of power in China in 1949, popular music was considered ideologically suspect and Yao fled to British Hong Kong in 1950 but continued her singing career with Pathé Records (EMI). In addition to releasing hit records, beginning in 1955 with the film 桃花江 (Peach Blossom River), she was also a playback singer for movie actresses. Many of her featured songs became popular hits. She stepped down from her singing career in 1967 after the death of her brother, Yao Min. In 1969, she accepted the invitation to become the General Manager and Producer at EMI Music Hong Kong. In 1970, she travelled to Taiwan in an effort to sign Teresa Teng to EMI for the Hong Kong market but was unsuccessful. Yao produced records for many artists during her time as a producer and retired from this position in 1977. During the 1930s and 1940s, Yao Lee's high, soft singing style was typical of Chinese popular music of the time (influenced by her superstar idol, Zhou Xuan). She performed numerous popular standards, such as Wishing You Happiness and Prosperity (恭喜恭喜), "I Can't Have Your Love" (得不到你的愛情), and "By the Suzhou River" (蘇州河邊) with her brother Yao Min, arguably the best-known Chinese pop songwriter of the shidaiqu era. She is famous for her 1940 version of Rose, Rose, I Love You (玫瑰玫瑰我愛你), later recorded by Frankie Laine in the United States with English lyrics. Her version was also released in the U.S. and the United Kingdom credited to "Miss Hue Lee." Yao was known as "the Silver Voice" (銀嗓子), alluding to fellow Shanghai singer Zhou Xuan, who was known as "the Golden Voice" (金嗓子). With increasing Western influences in the region after World War II and her move to Hong Kong, Yao Lee's singing style changed. She was introduced to more Western popular music and became an admirer of American singer Patti Page, whom she emulated by lowering her voice and incorporating some similar vocal mannerisms. As a result, Yao is sometimes called "Hong Kong's Patti Page." One of her biggest '50s records was "The Spring Breeze Kisses My Face" (春風吻上我的臉). Yao was extremely prolific with over 400 gramophone records attributed to her. Her 1959 song, "Rén Shēng Jìu Shì Xì"/"Life Is a Performance" (人生就是戲), is featured in the 2018 film, Crazy Rich Asians, in the scene when the matriarch grandmother, played by veteran Chinese American actor Lisa Lu, first appears. Yao died in Hong Kong on July 19, 2019. "Restoring China" Archived 2012-02-06 at the Wayback Machine Photo of a Yao Lee and Yao Ming single

Photo of Lu Han

6. Lu Han (b. 1990)

With an HPI of 44.55, Lu Han is the 6th most famous Chinese Singer.  His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.

Lu Han (Chinese: 鹿晗; born April 20, 1990), also known mononymously as Luhan, is a Chinese singer, actor, and dancer. He was a member of the South Korean-Chinese boy group Exo and its sub-group Exo-M, before leaving the group in October 2014. That year, he was ranked the sixth most popular entertainment star in China by China National Radio. In 2017, Lu Han was listed as the second highest-paid celebrity in the Forbes China Celebrity 100, behind only Fan Bingbing. Lu Han released his solo debut album Reloaded in 2015, and has starred in several box office hits such as 20 Once Again (2015), The Witness (2015), and Time Raiders (2016). In 2017, he starred in his first television series, Fighter of the Destiny.

Photo of Liu Huan

7. Liu Huan (b. 1963)

With an HPI of 42.12, Liu Huan is the 7th most famous Chinese Singer.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Liu Huan (born August 26, 1963) is a Chinese singer and songwriter. He is one of China's modern era pioneers in pop music. He combines his music career with teaching the history of Western music at the Beijing University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Photo of Han Geng

8. Han Geng (b. 1984)

With an HPI of 41.54, Han Geng is the 8th most famous Chinese Singer.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Han Geng (born February 9, 1984) is a Chinese Mandopop singer and actor. He started his career in 2001, when he was chosen by S.M. Entertainment to become a member of South Korean boy band Super Junior, which debuted in 2005. He later became the leader of its sub-group Super Junior-M in 2008. On December 21, 2009, Han filed a lawsuit against SME to terminate his contract. He has since returned to China to pursue a solo career. On September 27, 2011, Han's departure from SM Entertainment was made official as both parties came to a mutual agreement. For his various contributions to the spread of Chinese culture, Han was chosen as a torch bearer for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He later also became an ambassador for the 2010 Shanghai Expo and the 2010 Asian Games. In late 2012, Han started to gain international attention and won the 2012 MTV Europe Music Awards' "Best Worldwide Act" and Nickelodeon's 2013 Kids' Choice Awards' "Favorite Asian Act".

Photo of Wei Wei

9. Wei Wei (b. 1963)

With an HPI of 41.23, Wei Wei is the 9th most famous Chinese Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Wei Wei (simplified Chinese: 韦唯; traditional Chinese: 韋唯; pinyin: Wéi Wéi; born 28 September 1963) is a Chinese mandopop singer, actress, philanthropist and professor. Nicknamed "The Empress of Pop", she has been widely recognized for her artistry and vocal performances. She has been regarded as one of the greatest Chinese entertainers of her generation, and her contributions to music and visual media have made her a prominent and influential Chinese pop culture figure during the 1990's and early 2000s. Wei started performing in various state-sponsored singing and dancing competitions as a child, singing state-sanctioned revolutionary music. Her breakthrough came alongside the Chinese economic reform in 1986 when she won both the National Young Singers contest in China, and the 24th Sopot International Song Festival in Poland. Four years later, she performed a duet with Spanish singer Julio Iglesias at the 1993 East Asian Games in Shanghai. Largely associated with sports culture and the Olympics, Wei has been an Olympic Cultural Ambassador for China since 1993, a role she assumed when the Chinese Olympic Committee submitted its initial application to host the Olympic Games. Wei was the sole cultural representative for Asia at the 1996 Summer Olympics, and has performed at several major events, including the opening ceremony of Expo 2010, the closing ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 11th National Games of China. Wei's songs have been used as the official theme songs for many major sporting events in China. Her single "I Want to Fly" was chosen by the Chinese Olympic Committee as the official theme song for the 2008 Olympic Sailing events. In 2007, The All-China Women's Federation recognized Wei's contributions to Chinese sports culture by designating her the "Queen of Sports". Having sold an estimated 100-200 million records worldwide, Wei is one of Asia's best-selling recording artists. Considered a "national treasure" in China, Wei is the first Mainland Chinese pop singer to have competed abroad representing the People's Republic of China, the first Zhuang ethnic minority artist to represent China internationally, the first woman to be selected as China's Olympic Cultural Ambassador, and one of China's earliest artists to use the internet for the digital release of music. The haute-couture dress designed for Wei by Lars Wallin for the '08 Olympics is on permanent display at the Nordic Museum in Sweden.

Photo of Lay Zhang

10. Lay Zhang (b. 1991)

With an HPI of 40.95, Lay Zhang is the 10th most famous Chinese Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Zhang Yixing (Chinese: 张艺兴; pinyin: Zhāng Yìxīng; born (1991-10-07)October 7, 1991), known professionally as Lay Zhang or simply Lay, is a Chinese rapper, singer-songwriter, dancer, actor, record producer and businessman. Zhang first gained recognition in 2005 for participating in the Chinese television talent show Star Academy. He later debuted as a member of the South Korean-Chinese boy band Exo and its Chinese sub-unit Exo-M under SM Entertainment in 2012. In 2015, Zhang founded a personal agency with SM for managing his solo activities in China and wrote an autobiography titled Standing Firm at 24. In 2016, Zhang released his first extended play (EP), Lose Control. The EP peaked at number one on the Gaon Album Chart and number four on Billboard's US World Albums chart. Zhang is the first Chinese solo artist to hit the Top 25 on the Billboard 200 and the first Chinese solo artist to hit Top 5 on the Worldwide iTunes Album Chart. Since his debut as a solo artist, Zhang has produced and released over 100 songs including 4 studio albums and 5 EPs, and has won numerous music awards. In 2020, Zhang founded the Chromosome Entertainment Group and serves as CEO and producer. Zhang has been included on the Forbes China Celebrity 100 (placing in the top 20 in multiple years) and on the CelebrityZ Top 100 Most Valuable Celebrities list (placing 23rd in 2016) published by market research company Kantar and Chinese business magazine CBN Weekly. Outside of music, Zhang became the first celebrity to serve as publicity ambassador for the Communist Youth League of China of Changsha in 2016. He has also ventured into acting and starred in films and television shows such as Ex-Files 2 (2015), The Mystic Nine (2016), Kung Fu Yoga (2017), The Island (2018), The Golden Eyes (2019), Empress of the Ming (2019), Crime Crackdown (2021), and No More Bets (2023).

People

Pantheon has 24 people classified as Chinese singers born between 1894 and 2001. Of these 24, 21 (87.50%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Chinese singers include Peng Liyuan, Sam Hui, and Lu Han. The most famous deceased Chinese singers include Mei Lanfang, Shi Pei Pu, and Yao Lee. As of April 2024, 3 new Chinese singers have been added to Pantheon including Han Hong, Zhong Chenle, and Zhang Liyin.

Living Chinese Singers

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Deceased Chinese Singers

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Newly Added Chinese Singers (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Singers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 3 most globally memorable Singers since 1700.