Teresa Teng (29 January 1953 – 8 May 1995) was a legendary Taiwanese singer, a cultural icon, and also referred as “Asia’s eternal queen of pop” in East and Southeast Asia.
Teresa Teng was a daughter of a military family in Taiwan with four brothers. She showed her singing talent when she was a little girl. With her father’s approval, she quit school to pursue singing professionally at 14 years old. Soon she could help to support her family by singing. Not only popular in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Teresa Teng also successfully crack the Japanese market. In 1974 the song “Airport” (空港, Kūkō), became a hit in Japan, and she became a super star in many countries. Teng was the first ethnic Chinese singer to perform at New York City’s Lincoln Center in 1980.
It was the sweetness and softness in her voice that made Teresa Teng famous. She had language talents of proficiency in Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, English, Hokkien and Indonesian. She maintained her classy and elegant style both on the stage and in the real life.
Teresa Teng was known as “the soldier’s sweetheart” in Taiwan, because of her frequent performances for military. She also gained the top popularity in the mainland of China by her heart-rending love songs and sweet image. Teresa Teng is the symbol of Chinese cultural icon beyond political conflicts.
On May 8, 1995, Teresa Teng died from fatal asthma attack in Thailand at the age of 42. The tragic news fell like a bombshell on her music fans. During that time I lived in an island city closed to Taiwan. I watched Taiwan TV program of “Forever Miss Teresa Teng” just after her death, with tears rolling down my face. Even though Teresa Teng has left us, her heritage lived on, and she will always be one of the shining stars!
Growing up with her beautiful songs, today I still listen to her music. The following video is her song of “Tsugunai” (つぐない) ( in Japanese).