Hong Kong, September 2, 2014: Home is where the heart is and, to many, home on a weekday in Hong Kong is attending a Happy Wednesday night at Happy Valley Racecourse.
Now, there’s a song about all this, called, naturally enough, “Home”, which doubles and triples as the musical anthem for the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s 130th Anniversary campaign.
Written by music executive and creative director Hans Ebert and Welsh singer-songwriter Ben Semmens, the origins of the song have some interesting twists and turns.
Ebert was asked if he would like to be one of the “suppliers” to pitch a theme song for the HKJC campaign. He declined.
Says Ebert, “I just can’t write songs for organisations as it often means writing a corporate press release and having to go through a master-slave approval process. Been there, done that and have the bloodied t-shirt.”
Instead, “Home” began life as a metaphor for the yin and yang of a relationship with there also being the obvious attachment to where someone is living, or has lived or wants to live.
For Ben Semmens, home these days is Hong Kong, thanks to the HKJC bringing him out to the city to perform at every Happy Wednesday night for the past two years.
“I wouldn’t know what Hong Kong looks like, let alone living here if not for the HKJC,” says Semmens.
“When Hans talked about the song and sent me the lyrics, we worked out how it should sound. And because of the different ways we work with the HKJC, it just made sense to give this song to the Club as a Thank You.”
For the accompanying video- a musical tribute to Hong Kong- Ebert credits Scottie Hui, son of Canto-Pop legend Sam Hui, for the editing (“Scottie’s work captured the essence of the song”),and singles out his good friend and thirteen-time Champion Hong Kong jockey Douglas Whyte for special Thanks.
In fact, the song is also used as a tribute to Whyte, one of Hong Kong’s greatest racing heroes.
“Dougie was serving a suspension at the time, but made the time to be at the races when the song was first performed ‘live’ at the Beer Garden, and even went up onstage.
” It’s great to have captured that moment, which is in the video as Dougie has been a brilliant ambassador for Hong Kong racing and sees this city as his home. It’s where he’s made a name for himself and where his two children were born.”
Also in the video is local jazz band maRK led by brilliant female drummer/percussionist Anna Fan, below, who has backed Semmens at some of his Hong Kong gigs.
maRK will be his full-time band at the HKJC Happy Wednesday sessions this new racing season starting with the re-opening of its home at Happy Valley Racecourse on October 22.
“maRK is a great group of young talent- musicians who know what Jazz really is and have just recorded their own new record”, says Ebert. “We love the way they talk about what ‘Home’ means to them in the video, but even more glad they’re part of this song as Marcus, Anna, Ricky and Kenny are talents who can lift the Hong Kong music out of the doldrums it’s been in for the past two to three decades.”
Cantonese versions of the song have been recorded for the Club’s 130 Anniversary campaign by popular Hong Kong band, Mr and another Universal Music act- Robynn and Kendy- with accompanying music videos produced to be part of the 130th Anniversary Campaign.
This will include a Road Show featuring ‘live’ performances of the song, other videos showcasing what the HKJC has contributed to the city, and the use of traditional and social media as part of an awareness programme.
All will combine to show the city the many ways in which the HKJC has made- and continues to make- Hong Kong a better home for so many, and how it’s much more than being a one dimensional horse racing club.
The HKJC apart, Ebert has other plans for the English recording of the song, saying that “home is an universal theme with a strong emotional attachment to it”.
“Sure, it’s nice to give something back to Hong Kong, but from the reaction of everyone who has heard this song- friends, family, total strangers- it seems to resonate with people in different positive ways. That’s why Ben and I want our ‘Home’ to be for the world.”
“Home” by Ben Semmens, Mr and Robynn and Kendy is released through Universal Music and available on iTunes from October 12, 2014.
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