Artist of the week – Wheesung
Name: Choi Whee-Sung
Physique: 172cm 63kg
Debut: 2002. 4. 1st album ‘Like a movie’
For this week’s artiste of the week feature, we have Whee-Sung. In the beginning, it was just a name without a face or a voice to match, but it all changed knowing that such stars like Seo Tai-Ji and Shin Sung-Hoon had nothing but praise for this unknown vocalist. So, in a way, Whee-Sung was already a star before he became a star.
Whee-Sung started his career in 1997 as a member of a back-dancing team ING, but was later discovered by a promoter to be a part a four-piece boyband ‘A4’. The band, which consisted of 4 Korean-Americans, had a hit called ‘Forgiving’. It didn’t last as the music ‘A4’ pursued was too Americanized, with heavy influences of hip-hop and reggae, something the music fans were not accustomed to at that time. So his run as a performer fizzled out after a stint with ‘A4’ and had to be invisible once again. But this in turn was an opportunity for Whee-Sung as he acknowledged his weaker side, his vocals, which led him to spend the next 2 years concentrating, shaping and perfecting his vocal skills. And the result was a re-vamped version of Whee-Sung with a voice color so unique and the ability to sing so well that today, he is regarded as one of the top male vocalists in Korea. Moreover, as time passed with R&B, soul and hip-hop becoming more familiar and accepted by the fans, it was just the right timing for him to have another go at the music scene with his favorite genres, R&B and hip-hop.
‘A performer without a face’ was the catchphrase that followed him until he made his second debut in 2002 with his album ‘Like a movie’, which was largely due to the fact that his talent had been recognized by the people in the know but not to the public, and that this was his second attempt puzzled even more. However, when the wait was over, the track ‘Why can’t it be…?’ soon swept the nation and mesmerized people with his unique voice color. Its delivery of emotions was more than enough to leave people wanting more. Like his idol Stevie Wonder, Whee-Sung’s musical roots lie in R&B and soul, but he was successful in combining them with hip-hop, which is often referred as ‘black music’, but he did one better by combining different influences, ambience and emotion within the music itself that are close to our hearts.
‘Whee-Sung’s follow-up, 2003’s ‘It’s real’, cemented his ability as a vocalist and gave him a place in the Korean music scene. Tracks such as ‘Set me free’, ‘I’m missing you’ and ‘With me’ demonstrated his talent flawlessly, with his ‘black music’ influence blended in even more, adding to his ever-growing popularity among music fans and critics alike. And as a member of M.Boat Entertainment, he shared the stage with the likes of Big Mama, Seven and Gumi at the Soultrain concert, which went on to be a sold-out show boasting an attendance of more than 20,000 people.
It’s been a busy 2 years for the ‘second-rookie’, but rest was not an option for him as he served up his 3rd album, ‘For the moment’, in mid October of 2004 and started his next outing. And for this time, camera-shy Whee-Sung sharpened up his image and showed off his well-toned body and his face to his fans in support of his first single off the album ‘Incurable disease’.
Whee-Sung is certainly on a roll at the moment. With both of his albums selling in the hundreds of thousands, which is rare in this digital age, he certainly is a force to be reckoned with. A multi-talented performer with a color and style of his own, this explains why his fellow musicians and critics were busy praising this ‘Secondhand rookie’.
His contract with YG ended in 2006 and he joined Orange Shock. Under new management, Whee-Sung fulfilled his desire to make more music and also produce other singers. Many singers such as Ivy, Ilac, Lee Hyori, Dong Bang Shin Ki, SHINee have Whee-Sung songs in their new albums.
Whee-Sung released his 5th album titled Eternal Essence Of Music in 2007. He collaborated with a team of hit writers and composers including Kim Do Hoon, PJ, Park Chang Hyeon, Kim Tae Won, Won Tae Yeon, and Oh Seong Hoon. He also joined forces with top producer Park Keun Tae, who was responsible for Ivy’s "Tempting Sonata", and even personally got involved as composer and songwriter. Whee-Sung selected the 14 tracks for Eternal Essence Of Music from a pool of no less than 500 demos, and fans should be pleasantly surprised by the singer’s new works. Among the songs to look out for are cover versions of Tommy Bolin’s Savannah Woman and Phil Collins’ Against All Odds. The album design has a "minimalism" concept, created by photographer Kwon Yeong Ho.
Whee-Sung emerges anew on the Korean music scene in 2008. The talented R&B vocalist returns a year after his multi-genre album Eternal Essence Of Music. His first mini album With All My Heart And Soul takes the listener on a musical journey ranging from soul and neo soul to R&B and slow jam. Sparing no efforts to please fans and to advance his own musical ambitions, Wheesung personally composed three of the album’s six new songs. With All My Heart And Soul is carried by slow soulful numbers and Whee-Sung’s trademark vocals. The music video for Fading Star, also starring by Lee Hyori, had made buzz for a while. He also will do solo concerts and also a joint concert with Park Hyo Shin, Gummy etc in December, before he heads for military service next year.
* Like A Movie (1st album, 2002) : Please, Nightmare, You Are the Only One, Magic Eye, Feel the Night
* It’s Real (2nd album, 2003) : Set Me Free, On the Day We Met Again, I am Missing You, With Me, If You’re Not Gonna Love Me, Player, Dilemma, Pretty Lady
* For the Moment (3rd album, 2004) : After Loving Someone, 7 days, She’s Beautiful, Incurable Disease, Dear My Friend
* Love..Love..?Love! (4th album, 2005) : Good-bye Luv, In One Year, Walk Toward the Sky, Luv Shine, Morning, Too Hot
* Eternal Essence Of Music (5th album, 2007) : Love Hero, My Way, Love is Delicious, Savannah Woman, Tick Tock, Against All Odds – Bonus Track, etc
Purchase this album
* With All My Heart And Soul (1st Mini Album, 2008) : Real Slow Gotta Go Again, Perfect Man, Fading Star, Interlude (with Lee Hyori), Choco Luv, Prayer 4 Soul (feat. Lovelyn), Hell