Knocking on China's door

20) KIT CHAN, 43, singer

She might have been eliminated from China's televised competition I Am A Singer 3 twice, but singer Kit Chan still ended up winning big.

The high-profile stint opened doors in mainland China, leading to the home-grown singer's first regional tour and a recently inked contract with major Chinese record label Taihe Music Group. The music group is merging with search engine giant Baidu's music platform, Baidu Music.

For her risk-taking spirit and mid-career second wind, Chan makes her maiden appearance on the Life Power List.

Reflecting on the contest experience, she says: "It was great simply because it was novel and a crazy challenge for me, what with an untapped market, an unfamiliar working environment and culture, and the reality show concept."

While she was the first artist to be eliminated, her soulful renditions of songs such as Shino Lin's Tempting Heart and Leslie Cheung's Left And Right Hands have won her a new generation of fans and have led to a "very late-blooming relationship with China".

There was clearly demand to see and hear more of her in mainland China and so her Spellbound concert, planned originally for Singapore, turned into a regional undertaking with stops in major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

This was her first such tour in 21 years after she broke into the competitive Taiwanese market with the album Heartache (1994).

As for signing on with Taihe Music Group after releasing her last album of covers, Re-interpreting Kit Chan (2011), under her own Banshee Empire label, she says: "When my serendipitous entry into China happened this year, it seemed natural to actually start expanding my reach and to ensure that my future works reach my newfound Chinese audience too.

"And my own label could never do that. I wouldn't dream of doing that. It is a huge undertaking."

This month will find her travelling to China "quite a bit" for various awards show.

Christmas is family time, though. Chan, who is married, plans to spend the occasion at home, host dinner for the family and go to church - "everything that keeps me sane and happy".

Meanwhile, her fans, new and old, will be eagerly awaiting her new album of original material, her first since 2004's East Towards Saturn.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 20, 2015, with the headline 'Knocking on China's door'. Print Edition | Subscribe