Award-winning xinyao lyricist Jo Heng, also known as Xing Zenghua, died on Thursday (Jan 9) at the age of 59. She had been battling lymphoma, according to reports cited by The Straits Times.
Heng was widely known in the xinyao scene for having penned songs such as Jacky Cheung’s A Thousand Sad Reasons and Eric Moo’s You Are My Only One – for which she won at the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) in 1997 and the Sing Music Awards in 1989, respectively.
As one of the pioneers in the xinyao scene, she was also featured in the 2015 documentary The Songs We Sang, for which she wrote the theme song as well.
Fellow musicians and celebrities paid tribute to Heng on her Facebook page. Liang Wern Fook posted “Goodbye” along with a photo of a three-line poem, of which the first two lines were from You Are My Only One.
Former actress Jazreel Low reminisced about sharing a flat along Balestier Road. “I was in awe of your talent and ability to stay calm in any circumstances,” she wrote.
Fellow lyricist and composer Ke Guimin posted his own farewell message, calling her “teacher” and saying “Rest in peace”.
In an interview with U-Weekly, Moo said: “I learnt about her illness four days ago and had planned to visit her when I return to Singapore in a few days.”
Heng began her studies in Bukit Panjang Government High School and Thomson Secondary School, and worked in factories before joining Xin He Magazine.
In a previous interview, Heng revealed the secret to her success as a lyricist: "You need a rich imagination, a strong foundation in language, and to be meticulous and sensitive so that you can empathise with others and also imagine what the listener is feeling."