An encore for Faye Wong

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Faye Wong's comeback, after 6 years, seems to have been confirmed this time.

Faye Wong's agent and long-time friend Katie Chen, says the pop queen will launch a national concert tour next October, and will likely perform at next year's annual CCTV Spring Festival Gala.

The tour is said to start in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, and visit about 10 other cities, though plans are still being finalized, according to Chen in a Chinese Business View article.

Appearance fees for each gig will be about US$1 million, making her the most expensive singer on the mainland.

The singer married mainland actor Li Yapeng in July 2005 and in May 2006 she gave birth to daughter Li Yan. The couple launched the Smile Angel Foundation to assist children with cleft palates and Wong sang her first new song since 2003 to aid the organization.

In March, the singer shot a shampoo advertisement for a fee of 20 million yuan (US$3 million), her only screen appearance in recent years.

Since the pop diva announced her retirement in 2003, rumours about her possible comeback have been trailing behind her. For her fans throughout Asia, the singer has always been an icon without equal.

"She is a legend," says Chen Tao, 28, a DJ on Hit FM, part of China Radio International. "It's like Americans talking about Madonna, she represents a certain era of pop music, a certain trend, and a vision of being unique."

Wong has a voice similar to Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries, high and clear. Her remake of the Irish group's Dreamer in the early 1990s, both in Cantonese and Mandarin, is still played frequently today.

Wong moved to Hong Kong with her family from Beijing in 1987, where she began her career as a model. Soon, she signed with a music company and released numerous albums containing classic Cantonese pop songs such as Fragile Woman and No Regrets. In 1994, the album Sky garnered many awards and she was given the title "Best Female Singer" in Asia.

She made 20 albums by 2000 and sold a reported 9.7 million units. She was the first Chinese singer to appear on the cover of TIME magazine.

Her work with former husband and rock pioneer Dou Wei, mainland producer Zhang Yadong, and Hong Kong lyricist Albert Leung created an era of Faye Wong.

"When you listen to Faye Wong now, you see that her songs bear no resemblance to what we hear today. When we miss her, we look for her through the songs," says Zhang, who has been working with Wong since 1994. "She is irreplaceable in the hearts of many fans, though lots of female singers have emerged over the years."

Her pregnancy, the birth of her daughter and her divorce from Dou have all been covered extensively by the paparazzi. Pictures of Wong walking out of a public toilet in a Beijing hutong with sleepy eyes early in the morning caused a stir.

Her comeback will be a huge event.

"She has been an icon all the time. It would be a great event if she could make a comeback this time," Zhang says. "She has all her greatest hits, some of the greatest hits in the history of Chinese pop music, after all."

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