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Teresa Teng: Alive in the Hearts of Chinese Around the World

10 years have passed since Teresa Teng died from a severe asthma attack in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but her pleasant songs and sweet appearance were fondly remembered by millions of Chinese all over the world.

Born to a poor family in 1953 in Taiwan's Yunlin county, Teresa Teng gave up her formal education in her third year of middle school and embarked on her singing career. She rapidly gained fame in China's Taiwan and Hong Kong, and in South East Asia. In 1973, she took on Japan in search of international stardom.

She was best known for her Taiwan folk songs and love ballads marked by cute little vocal inflections, although this singing style developed into a more matured sound while she was in Japan.

Teng's sang in Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and English.

She had a face that fit the Chinese ideal of the genteel and sweet young maiden, and she possessed a fresh and pure "girl-next-door" demeanor.

Teng recorded over 100 albums and each has sold over a million copies. Some of Teng's most popular songs include The Moon Represents My Heart, Your Sweet Smiles, Goodbye My Love, and Small Town Story.

The media and legions of Teresa Teng fans in Hong Kong and Taiwan have organized various programs and activities to commemorate the Chinese singer, whose popularity has spanned three decades.

Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television will air a five-part TV series beginning Monday 9 to Friday 13 May to commemorate the diva who passed away at the age of 42.

The TV series, entitled When Will You Come Back Again (also a title of one of Teng's ballads) tells her life story as described by her brothers, friends, teachers, fellow musicians, and fans, and features many of her most famous tunes.

"Her songs express the most beautiful musical notes of the Chinese culture," commented Tiger Hoo, host of the TV series, in an interview with Xinhua.

Hoo added that Teng's songs are so popular on the mainland that they can be heard playing in most hotels and taxis. When he went to Chiang Mai in 1995 to cover her death, all he had to say was "Teresa Teng" and he was immediately driven to the Imperial Hotel where Teng stayed before she died.

In Hong Kong, Teresa's CDs are sold in nearly every music store from big chains such as HMV to small roadside stores.

On Saturday, Hong Kong broadcaster, Television Broadcasting Ltd (TVB), aired a special program entitled Citywide Remembrance of Teresa Teng. The program recalled her time spent in Hong Kong and the performances she gave in the early 1990s.

Also in Hong Kong, Madame Tussauds Hong Kong has collaborated with the Teresa Teng Foundation and launched a mini-exhibition called "Thinking of Our Dear Teresa." Teng's wax figurine is dressed in a black dragon-emblazoned midi.

The mini-exhibition also features Teng's 1985 NHK concert video, four of Teng's stage costumes, five trophies awarded to her in Japan between 1974 and 1988 in recognition of her outstanding music contributions, and other Teng paraphernalia including photographs contributed by fans.

The mini-exhibition is on until July 31, 2005.

Kelly Mak, Marketing and Business Development Manager at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, said, "We want to give people who love Teresa the opportunity to honor her, and remember her sweet voice and beautiful onstage appearance."

At the opening of the mini-exhibition earlier this year, Jim Teng, CEO of the Teresa Teng Foundation and Teng's younger brother, said, "I think a lot about Teresa. The mini-exhibition means a lot to me."

A group of Hong Kong musicians are also scheduled to stage an opera in Teng's memory in June. Cao Zhong, an anchorwoman from TVB and who resembles Teng, will be cast in the lead role.

Other commemorative gestures include Teng's biography and a 10-CD set of songs jointly published by Ming Pao Publishing House and the Teresa Teng Foundation, and stamps issued by Hong Kong Post.

In Taiwan, the Teresa Teng Foundation has organized a special tour to Teng's tomb for some 400 fans from all over the world who will take offerings of dumplings, one of Teng's favorite foods.

The fans will also visit Teng's residence and an exhibition displaying the late singer's personal items including costumes, perfume, jewelry, photos and awards.

(Xinhua News Agency May 9, 2005)

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