Teresa Teng’s love songs made her one of the most famous Chinese singers in the world. Though her music was sometimes banned in China, the Taiwanese artist was dearly beloved by Chinese people all around the world.
A national icon, Teng died unexpectedly at the age of 42 after an asthma attack in Thailand. When her body arrived at Taipei’s airport, senior Taiwanese officials were there, and her funeral was attended by commanders of the three branches of the military. Google today (Jan. 29) is commemorating Teng with a doodle on what would have been her 65th birthday.
Considered a brilliant linguist, Teng sang in Mandarin, Cantonese, and the Hokkien Chinese dialect, in a style that blended traditional folk music with jazzy, pop styles. Teng also sang in Japanese and Indonesian.
Among her most famous songs are “When Will You Come Again?” and “The Moon Represents My Heart”:
Teng’s father was a military official in China’s Nationalist army, and her parents fled to Taiwan after the communists won the civil war in 1949, where she was born. Her political pronouncements—support for Taiwan’s military and for the student protestors at Tiananmen Square in 1989—didn’t hamper her popularity in China.
Teng was seen by many as a “wholesome girl-next-door figure,” but the Chinese Communist Party criticized her songs for being bourgeois, decadent, and pornographic. Her popularity in China nonetheless flourished with cassettes sold o