How A Pre-Med USC Student Came To Sing — And Redefine — A Coldplay Song In ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

By Randall Roberts
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) 19 year old Katherine Ho is a lifelong singer who has performed on the NBC singing competition show “The Voice.” She is also minoring in songwriting at USC.

LOS ANGELES

After chemistry class on a recent weekday, sophomore Katherine Ho sat at an outdoor table in USC Village and shared the chain of events that made the pre-med student’s rendition of Coldplay’s “Yellow” appear during the climactic scene in the box-office topping movie “Crazy Rich Asians.”

As students pass on scooters, skateboards and foot, Ho describes “a series of surprises” that led to her voice being featured in the film.

Her story involves a singing camp, a tip from a former teacher, a series of February rehearsals in a freshman dorm and a big reveal, all in service of a song about a hue with meaning that extends far beyond its place on the color wheel.

Sung in Mandarin, Ho’s “Yellow” moment in the movie wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Its placement sparked active behind-the-scenes conversations in the music department on the intricacies of language and lyrical intent.

Licensing the song even required a personal plea from director Jon Chu to members of Coldplay that spoke to the history of Asian representation in pop culture. For her part, Ho was one of dozens vying to cover “Yellow.”

A first-generation Chinese American from Woodland Hills, Calif., the 19-year-old is a lifelong singer who has performed on the NBC singing competition show “The Voice.” She is also minoring in songwriting at USC.

Says Ho, “It’s really cool that this word, yellow, and the song have a deeper meaning past just the plot of the film.” She and her friends, she adds, “were never that proud to call ourselves ‘yellow.’ It definitely had a lot of negativity associated with it.”

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