SINGAPORE - City Harvest founder Kong Hee and his wife Ho Yeow Sun were both "uncomfortable" with her English single China Wine, even though it was a success and the brainchild of noted music producer Wyclef Jean. It did not fit the image Ms Ho wanted to have as a pop artiste, Kong said as he took the stand for the second day on Tuesday.
Kong, who faces three charges of criminal breach of trust for allegedly misusing church funds, outlined the plan to break Ms Ho into the United States music market as part of a church effort to evangelise using her pop music.
The United States began in 2003 after an American pastor suggested to Kong that Ms Ho's music would appeal to Americans. Wyclef Jean, a Haitian hip hop recording artist, was brought on in 2006 to help Ms Ho.
He suggested that Ms Ho scrap the songs that had already been recorded for her debut English album as they sounded "too white, Caucasian" and would not distinguish her from other singers attempting to make a mark in the United States, Kong said.
Instead, Wyclef Jean recommended that Ms Ho try a new "Asian-Reggae" fusion sound, which led to the making of China Wine. He had created a similar "Latino-Reggae" sound with pop star Shakira, leading to the massive hit Hips Don't Lie, Kong added.
Kong also stressed that even though Wyclef Jean's involvement in Ms Ho's album as well as other factors had led to higher costs, he had kept "rigorous" oversight of the numbers, including the projected revenue from album sales, concert tours, merchandising and more. It was to make sure the initial expense was worthwhile and would return a profit.
Kong showed through several e-mails between him and music producer Justin Herz, how he had probed Mr Herz's profit and loss projections, including suggesting that an "optimistic" projection of 2 million album units sold should be revised to 1.5 million copies. Wyclef Jean left the project in 2008 after negotiations over his asking price broke down.