Monday, 3 May 2010

Remembering Teresa Teng (1953-1995)

Teresa Teng was born on 29th January 1953 in Tienyang, Taiwan. She was educated at Ginling Girls High School, Taiwan. She began singing as early as five and began to stand out during her primary school. She gave up her formal education in her third year of middle school and began concentrating on her singing career.

In 1968, she became famous after giving a performance on a popular music programme in Taiwan, and released eight albums within the next two years. In 1973, she entered the Japanese market, taking part in Japan’s KĊhaku Uta Gassen, a year-round singing match of the most successful artists of that year, and won the prize for “Best New Singing Star”.

In 1974, with the song “Airport”, she conquered Japan, where she remained a leading star despite a short exile in 1979 when she was deported for having entered on a fake Indonesian passport, bought for US$20,000, a deception rendered necessary by a break in relations between Taiwan and Japan on China’s entry to the UN Security Council.

Singing in Cantonese, Japanese and English as well as her native Mandarin, Teng was soon popular as far as Malaysia and Indonesia.

She was well known and her music was also hugely popular in mainland China despite the fact that the authorities had branded most Western music, including her music, as “decadent”. However, she was never to perform there. She performed in Paris during the 1989 Tiananmen student uprising, singing for the students and proclaiming her support for them and for democracy.

Teng died from a severe asthma attack while on holiday in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the age of 42 on May 8, 1995.

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