Karen Mok wrestles with what’s been a life-long question for her on the title of her first English album, “Somewhere I Belong.”
The Hong Kong pop diva has a half-Chinese, half-Welsh father and her mother is half-Chinese, one quarter-Iranian and a quarter-German. It’s easy to see why Mok cannot pinpoint one ethnic identity.
So where exactly does she feel like she belongs? Mok explains it’s not a geographic location, but rather her home is on stage, wherever she performs.
“It’s about what I do, when I feel comfortable, that’s when I’m doing what I love most, that’s singing, that’s when I’m performing on stage, and just singing my heart out, sharing my emotions,” she said. “So that’s where I belong.”
After 16 successful Mandarin/Cantonese albums, Mok is venturing into English lyrics and a mix of music styles.
The album is her first attempt to cross from pop to jazz. She sings classic jazz tunes, as well as reinterpretations of Chinese and Western pop songs.
Insisting on a jazz album with an Asian sound, Mok made the album in China with Asian musicians and added a traditional Chinese instrument, the gu zeng string instrument, to the background of some tracks.
The 42-year-old songstress has been on the Asian entertainment scene for more than 20 years. She’s starred in over 40 feature films and is the first Asian female artist to star in a Broadway show, when she was cast as Mimi in the 10th anniversary Asian tour of “Rent.”
Mok is currently promoting “Somewhere I Belong” in Asia. Later this year, she will appear in Keanu Reeves’s directorial debut, “Man of Tai Chi.”