Xinyao lyricist Jo Heng, who wrote lyrics for singers like Jacky Cheung and Eric Moo, dies at 59

Award-winning lyricist Jo Heng wrote the lyrics to Hong Kong Heavenly King Jacky Cheung's 1995 song A Thousand Sad Reasons.
Award-winning lyricist Jo Heng wrote the lyrics to Hong Kong Heavenly King Jacky Cheung's 1995 song A Thousand Sad Reasons.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE - Jo Heng, an award-winning Singapore lyricist known for penning the lyrics to hits like singer Eric Moo's You Are My Only One, has died at the age of 59.

Reports say she had suffered from lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, and died on Thursday (Jan 9) morning.

Heng, also known as Xing Zenghua, wrote the lyrics to Hong Kong Heavenly King Jacky Cheung's 1995 song A Thousand Sad Reasons, which won the Top Local Chinese Song at the third Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) awards in 1997.

In addition, she wrote the lyrics to Hong Kong singer Andy Lau's The Path Winds Through High Peaks, which was released in 1994.

She had studied in Bukit Panjang Government High School and Thomson Secondary School, and was good at Chinese composition.

She read novels by Chinese writer Lu Xun, liked the works of Taiwanese writer San Mao, and listened to the songs of Taiwanese singers Feng Fei Fei and Lo Ta-yu.

After graduating from Thomson Secondary School, Heng took on a few odd jobs until she joined Xin He Magazine. She also knew former radio deejay Pang Siew Moi, who was supportive of local music.

Through Pang, Heng got to know xinyao pioneers such as Moo and local composer and music producer Billy Koh, who were also active in the music scene.     

After her death, Moo, 56, was quoted in a U-Weekly article as saying: "I learned about her illness four days ago, and had planned to visit her when I return to Singapore in a few days. Little did I know..."

On Thursday afternoon, 96.3 Hao FM senior producer-presenter Tan Li Yi ran a tribute to Heng on air, playing some of her songs and re-playing a 2018 interview with the lyricist.

Heng had taken part in the hit xinyao documentary The Songs We Sang (2015), which traced the history of the Singaporean folksong movement. On Thursday, the documentary's team remembered Heng in a Facebook post, expressing their sadness at her passing. 

Singapore musician Liang Wern Fook also paid tribute to Heng on Facebook, with a three-sentence poem that quoted the first two lines that she had penned for You Are My Only One and ended with the phrase, "you are the only one".