Teresa Teng, a Culture Icon

Teresa Teng, a Culture Icon

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A friend’s young daughter loved the story of Gigi O. One thing she was really excited to learn was the iconic singer Teresa Teng (邓丽君) and her legendary songs, like “Sweet (甜蜜蜜).” I was floored. During the 80’s, as a kid, I was thrilled to receive a cassette of Teresa Teng’s music from somebody, and somebody got it from Hong Kong or Taipei.  Her music was prohibited in public at that time in mainland China. The government banned it as “lewd” music. I didn’t know what “lewd” meant but couldn’t help falling in love with her angelic voice and the enchanting melody, immediately. I wasn’t the only one. Her music spread out in China like a wildfire, red hot just like her. For more than two decades, she was not just a pop singer, she was a culture icon. Even till today, it’s very true that “Wherever there are Chinese people, there is the music of Teresa Teng.” Never mind for somebody like me who can hardly sing, except for after two glasses of wine, I can sing a few of her songs. Her music has been tattooed in my heart. Her legacy was the Chinese culture I know.

I’m privileged to share a glimpse of her in “Girl Wears Those Shoes:” For instance, at her parents’, Gigi would fall asleep in Teresa’s music. It was like the gentle rain drops that comforted her, soothed her pain, and delighted her heart. It made her feel she was home. No matter how tough it was out there, she could rest tonight, and let tomorrow be another day!

January 17, 2022

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