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Teresa Teng's heavenly voice continues to echo transcendently

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Teresa Teng's heavenly voice continues to echo transcendently

By Elizabeth Hsu CNA staff writer Hundreds of people flocked to the Beimen Post Office in downtown Taipei on April 15 to buy stamps featuring images of the late legendary Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng (???). The stamps were released that day to mark the 20th anniversary of Teng's untimely death on May 8, 1995. Over the past decades, the singer, born in 1953 in Taiwan's Yunlin County to migrant parents from mainland China, has been regularly commemorated by her fans from around the world on her birthday and the anniversary of her passing every year. People lay flowers on her grave, visit her home in Yunlin and attend memorial concerts, while films of her singing on various stages constantly draws clicks on YouTube. Releasing over 1,700 songs, the beloved cultural icon in the global Chinese community has not just gained praise by many popular Taiwanese, Chinese and Hong Kong singers, including Faye Wong (??), as their pop music mentor, but is also regarded by many ethnic Chinese around the world as a figure who has comforted their hearts with her heavenly singing voice. Shortly after Teng's sudden death in Chiang Mai, Thailand due to an asthma attack in 1995, Chinese democracy activist Wu'er Kaixi (????) sent the press a memorial letter, in which he described Teng's songs as "a flickering candle light that I saw far away in the darkness. It warms people's hearts, gives them hope, and makes people.want to cry." Known for her soothing voice and mastery of an array of genres, Teng's popularity extends to Japan, China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. While Communist-ruled China remained overshadowed by the brutal and inhumane Cultural Revolution and its legacy during the 1970s and 80s, her sweet voice passed through the Iron Curtain, comforting many suffering minds. During this period, whispers began circulating among people on the mainland, saying "listen to Lao Teng (old Teng, then Chinese top leader Deng Xiaoping,???) during the day, but Xiao Teng (young Teng, Teresa Teng) at night," or "just Xiao Teng, no Lao Teng." With multi-platinum records, the singer was also famed for her ardent patriotism and firm support for democracy and freedom. Once asked if she would visit China where she had numerous fans, Teng solemnly declared: "When I sing on the mainland will be the day our Three Principles of the People (????) are implemented there." The diva further gave her support for the democracy movement in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 by attending a gathering in Hong Kong that year, wearing a headband reading "Hail Democracy" in Chinese. At the event, she sang, despite having a lump in her throat, the Chinese song titled "My Home is on the Other Side of Mountains (??????)." Years later in a public gathering in Paris that marked the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the singer called for people "never to compromise with autarchy, never to succumb to tyranny." The angelic singer who sang some of the most apolitical Chinese folk and pop songs, ironically, became a political icon during an era that saw an entwined relationship between the Communists in China and the Nationalists in Taiwan, according to a BBC report in May 2010 marking the 15th anniversary of Teng's passing. Twenty years have passed since her departure, yet Teng's voice remains ever present in society's collective consciousness where she seems immortal. "Sweet honey honey (???), how sweetly you smile, like flowers blossoming in Spring winds ...," she sang.


Updated : 2021-09-21 01:53 GMT+08:00