Sat, Nov 27, 2010 - Page 16 News List

Hidden love

Every day gaggles of Chinese tourists converge on a converted warehouse in Kaohsiung to see first hand the clothes Teresa Teng wore, the car she drove, and even her old mahjong table

By Cindy Sui  /  Contributing reporter

A tourist from Xi’an, China said there was only one way to explain why she loves Teng’s songs: “They’re beautiful.”

“I first heard her songs in the early 1980s when I was in my 20s. I was just starting to work. I thought her songs sounded great, her voice was so gentle and beautiful. I’ve liked her ever since then. Her voice is very unique,” Xu Min (徐敏) said.

She added: “I feel so touched being here. In the 1980s, even though we knew she was from Taiwan, we thought she was one of us, like a family member.”

Another tourist said Teng’s songs cheer people up.

“Her songs make me feel light-hearted, even now. They make me feel better,” said Li Cong (李琮), 40. “When we go to karaoke bars, we often sing her songs.”

Teng was the first person of Chinese descent to perform at the Lincoln Center and the first Asian woman to perform at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, but her brother believes that it is the working class, people with hard lives, who appreciated her songs the most.

“They were often played in work places, easing the pressures of work,” Teng Chang-an said.

Her songs were of particular import to those living in China. “They had just come out of the Cultural Revolution, listening to revolutionary songs,” he said. “Her songs were like a breakthrough for them.”

“Some government agencies and private entrepreneurs wanted to open a memorial hall for the performer, but ... we didn’t want it to be commercialized. So we decided to open the memorial hall with our own funds,” Teng Chang-an said. “We’re not so concerned about making a profit. This is to fulfill her dream of contributing to society.”

He admitted the museum is not adequate and said he hopes to do better.

“I hope to raise enough money in three years to build a permanent memorial hall so that her spirit and songs can be passed down to future generations,” he said.

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