"Forever your Dad," Wang Leehom
Most people say that turning 40 is "over the hill," but for me the hill turned out to be more like a cliff. Two weeks after that milestone birthday I went to the first of many doctor visits, tests, and scans that would culminate in an ALS diagnosis just five months later. In August, 2016, I was a healthy man, lucky in love with a beautiful and caring wife, and proud father of three amazing daughters. How could three simple letters so quickly and permanently alter the course that all of our lives were supposed to follow?
After the initial shock, Johnna and I got to work executing a plan both hopefully optimistic and logistically realistic. I started a progression-slowing medication the day after my diagnosis and we got our financial affairs in order. I pushed to get into the most promising ALS stem cell treatment clinical trial in the world while we simultaneously put a wheelchair-accessible addition on to our split-level home. While keeping our home life consistent for our daughters I started to write about the important things I wanted to be sure they knew- things that I would eventually share with them at the appropriate time.
Part of what I had written morphed into a poem by the spring of 2018, and then I had an inspiration. Driving home one day from work in May I heard Tim McGraw's song "Live Like You Were Dying" on the radio. I hadn't heard that song in a while, perhaps since my diagnosis, and it gave me the idea that maybe the words I had written to my daughters could work as a song. I reworked the poem into lyrics and filed for copyright protection. I didn't know the next step, so I reached out to the most successful person I knew in the music industry, Leehom Wang.
I have known Leehom since 7th grade, when all the students from the elementary schools in our district joined together for middle school. We were in some of the tougher classes together as well as band, although my sax-playing days ended by 9th grade. We had lost touch after high school, when Leehom's musical career began its rapid ascent in Taiwan first, and then across Asia. Although not as widely known in the U.S., he has been called the "King of Chinese Pop" and has sold over 50,000,000 records worldwide. I would check on his accomplishments every once in a while, proud to know him and happy that his success came from his talent and hard work. It isn't routine that such a genuine person can achieve so much without changing who they are, but he seems to have done it exactly as I would have expected.
I pitched the idea to Leehom in July, 2018, and he immediately offered his help, eventually adding music to my lyrics and arranging a contract for me. It was actually our second collaboration, if you include a stellar 11th grade English class video report on the classic novel "Lord of the Flies." Leehom also had the idea to add an ALS fundraising aspect and I suggested ALS TDI. I believe that the cure for ALS will ultimately come out of lab research, and their lab is the most focused on ALS research in the world. I am so grateful for Leehom's help and so excited to share this song with the world!
-David B. Neufeglise, March, 2019
Download the song:
Outside of China:
iTunes/Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/tw/album/forever-your-dad-single/1500307424?l=en
About Wang Leehom
Wang Leehom is a Chinese-American singer-songwriter, producer, actor, and film director. Known as the King of Chinese Pop, he revolutionized the music scene with an evolving blend of pop, hip-hop, R&B, and traditional Chinese music ranging from aboriginal folk music to Beijing opera. He holds two honorary doctoral degrees from Williams College and Berklee College of Music. The best-selling Mandarin-language musician of his generation, Leehom came to prominence as a teen idol and has since released 17 solo studio albums and contributed to dozens more.
Over the course of his career, Leehom has earned 19 nominations and 4 wins at Taiwan’s Golden Melody Awards and 11 wins at the Chinese Music Awards, in the categories of Best Pop Album, Best Producer, Song of the Year, Best Arrangement, and Best Male Artist. He has toured over 100 cities worldwide, performing to sold-out venues across mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, the UK, and the US. One of the most recognizable and visible celebrities in Asia, Leehom has over 70 million followers on social media. His sold-out concert at the 90,000 seat Beijing Bird's Nest in 2012 was the first solo pop concert to be held at the iconic venue. He has collaborated with many talented Western artists, including Avicii, Usher, and Tony Bennett.
In addition to his music career, Leehom has also appeared/starred in over 20 films. In Love in Disguise (2010), a romantic comedy in which Leehom starred in, he also wrote, directed, and scored, setting the record for the highest-grossing film for a first-time director in Chinese history. Other movies include Ang Lee’s thriller Lust, Caution (2007); Little Big Soldier (2010), an action comedy co-starring Jackie Chan; My Lucky Star (2013) co-starring Zhang Ziyi Zhang; Michael Mann’s cyber-thriller Blackhat (2015), in which he stars alongside Chris Hemsworth, Tang Wei, and Viola Davis. Leehom's performance in Forever Young (2018) won him Best Actor at the 2018 Golden Lotus Awards in Macau.
Leehom is an environmental activist, and his album Change Me was dedicated to raising eco-awareness among Chinese youth. Leehom was one of the first torchbearers for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, and performed in the Olympics' closing ceremony in Beijing. He was again a torchbearer for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, making him the only person in the Mandarin pop circle to have taken part in the event twice. He is a longtime ambassador for World Vision Taiwan, was appointed World Vision Malaysia's 15th anniversary ambassador in 2012 and again in 2019. Wang Leehom was listed as one of Goldsea's "The 100 Most Inspiring Asian Americans of All Time".
At home in both the East and the West, Wang Leehom strives to connect both worlds by bringing Chinese music and movies to international audiences around the world.
Check out Leehom: