Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pop diva Patti Kim

Renowned pop singer Patti Kim announced her retirement from the stage Wednesday, ending an illustrious career that has spanned 54 years.

Since her 1958 debut at local U.S. military bases, she established herself as one of the nation's first generation of pop icons. The 74-year-old is recognized for numerous hits that display a multi-tonal range and for impassioned live performances here and abroad.

"I wish to be remembered as a wonderful singer. This is why I have reached the decision to retire when I can still sing well," Kim said at a press conference in Seoul, Wednesday. "For the past decade, I have been weighing the right time for retirement. This is the best time."

"After retirement, I look forward to living a normal life as a grandmother and spend time with my family," Kim added.
She will launch a farewell tour starting June 2 at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul. The final tour of her career will also take her to the U.S., Japan and Australia, among other countries.

Born in Seoul in 1938, Kim grew up at a time when pop culture was virtually non-existent in Korea, which makes her success all the more remarkable.

At a time when many of her contemporaries were still making their living with "trot" ― the oldest form of Korean pop music developed in the years before and during the Japanese occupation (1910-1945) ― Kim dominated the industry with a modern, versatile technique, charismatic stage presence and a unique fashion sense.

Kim showed up at the press conference in an upbeat mood, wearing jeans, jacket, a sexy hat and red heels and looking much younger than her years.

"In my 30s, I was physically in the best shape. But my voice peaked in my 50s," Kim recounted.

At the press conference, music critic Lim Jin-mo introduced Kim as the "singer who has marked the most firsts in the history of local pop music."

Kim is remembered for many trailblazing performances, like the 1989 concert held at Carnegie Hall in New York. She was the first Korean singer to perform at one of the world's most renowned concert venues.

In 1960, Kim appeared on Japan's NHK-TV, making her the first Korean singer to be formally invited to perform in Japan since Korea was liberated from colonial rule in 1945. A year later, she embarked on a year-long tour of northeast Asia, which took her to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore. She also appeared on Tonight Show by Johnny Carson.

In 2008, she held an international tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her career, visiting 50 cities, perform in Pyongyang in North Korea and in other countries.

Born as Kim Hye-ja, Kim began her career as a singer for the U.S. military stationed in Korea. She took the stage name of "Patti" from Patti Page, one of the hottest names in American pop music at the time.

Her partnership with composer and former husband Gil Ok-yoon (1927-1995) produced some of the most popular hits in the 1960s-70s, including "Belove Maria," "Chant for Seoul" and "The Word Love."

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