Dominican musician’s amazing connection with Hong Kong
Home away from home
Published: Sep 27, 2022 05:51 PM
Chris Polanco (left) Photo: IC

Chris Polanco (left) Photo: IC

When Dominican musician Chris Polanco arrived in Hong Kong 22 years ago, a sense of belonging mysteriously hit him.

"It's kind of weird because when I arrived here, I fell in love with the city immediately. I felt like, this is home," said Polanco in a music production studio in Hong Kong's Central District.

This sense of connection runs through his entire music career, which is highlighted by high-profile partnerships with renowned singers such as Eason Chan as well as his unexpected popularity singing with fans on Instagram.

"Everything is meant to be," Polanco likes to say. For the 44-year-old who has experienced ups and downs in his roller coaster ride as a musician in Hong Kong in South China, life is full of magic links.

Linking music

In the year 2000, Polanco took his first flight out of the Dominican Republic for a contract job at the Ocean Park in Hong Kong. For six months, he performed Latin music before the dolphin shows to warm up the crowd.

"In general, Latin music is very upbeat, entertaining and interactive. And the Ocean Park has a tropical feel. It connected right away," he said.

While introducing Latin music to Hongkongers, Polanco started to learn from the local music industry, expanding his music styles while learning new languages.

Now able to speak fluent Cantonese, he switches between Spanish, his mother tongue, as well as English and Cantonese while chatting with friends from all over the world. 

Despite the language differences, he thinks that Cantonese pop music and Latin music have a lot in common.

"When people think of Latin music, they think of only fast music. But Latin music has a lot of different styles. It can be slow, which is very similar to Cantopop," he said, starting to sing a classic Spanish song to make the point.

In August, Polanco released his first Cantonese single, with a music video showing him playing instruments and singing with his iconic sunglasses.

The song was well received among audiences from different cultural backgrounds. In Chinese, English and Spanish, his fans replied: What a great song! Thank you, Chris.

Connecting people

By nature, Polanco is an emotional man. When he plays a sad song, the inner corners of his eyebrows angle upward to show the depth of his emotion. When a fan resonates with his music, excitement creeps onto his face.

The signature sunglasses, which have already become part of his public image, hide emotions including both joy and sorrow.

His "low time," Polanco recalled, was when he resigned from his second job in Hong Kong and found himself jobless and struggling to pay rent.

"My mom called and said, 'Just come home.' I was like, 'No, I feel like I am connected to this place,'" he said.

Music was his cure at that time. He would write songs in the daytime. When night falls, he would watch Cantonese operas on TV, which gave him peace and strength.

"I guess I was Chinese in my previous life," he laughed.

Earlier in 2022, Hong Kong was hit hard by the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staying at home, Polanco started to produce Instagram posts that allow people to sing with him.

Wearing his T-shirt, sitting in front of a keyboard, Polanco would start with "Alright, sing this with me," and then it goes a popular song, in Cantonese, English, Putonghua (Standard Chinese), or Spanish.

The videos quickly went viral, and Polanco gained more than 80,000 fans in three months. He was glad to be able to inspire and bring positive energy to people during difficult times.

"It's not only about us singing, it's about people sharing their singing with the world. That's really amazing," he said.

With music, Polanco is able to connect with people around the world.

"Music is my channel and call to bring positive messages to people," he said.