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He's still crazy for Teresa Teng after all these years

Updated: 2012-09-07 10:17
By Chen Nan (China Daily)

He's still crazy for Teresa Teng after all these years

Songwriter Zhuang Nu supports a national tour on the occasion of Teresa Teng's 60th birth anniversary. Zou Hong / China Daily

Zhuang Nu, 90, recalls he has done two things related to Teresa Teng since she passed away in 1995. The first thing he did was write a song, When Will You Return, When Will You Sing Again, and read the lyrics at Teng's grave 10 years later after her death. The second thing, which he is still doing, is promoting concerts commemorating Teng.

The respected musician, who wrote numerous songs for Teng, such as Sweet Honey and Little Town's Stories, appeared in Beijing on Sept 4 to support a national tour on the occasion of Teng's 60th birth anniversary.

The tour's first stop will be at Shenzhen on Dec 12, followed by Jan 26, 2013, in Beijing, which will be followed by more than 60 shows across Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland.

"Lots of people asked me whether I liked her in particular, now that I have written so many songs for her. It's true because she was not only a good singer but also a very nice person," says Zhuang, after bowing to the pictures of Teng hanging in the room.

"People just noticed how glamorous Teng was onstage but ignored how hardworking she was and how she became an icon. Her spirit deserves worship and study by today's young pop singers."

Zhuang sheds tears during our interview, as the lyricist talks about the 3,000 songs he has written during the past 50 years. He says that he's happy that Teng's songs are still popular today.

Teng was particularly famous on the mainland. Her albums sold briskly and her music played even in the tiniest towns. Peasants in the countryside were familiar with her songs and brightly colored costumes. She was one of the first Taiwan singers whose music swept across the mainland after the opening-up drive was initiated in the late 1970s.

From Singapore to Japan, Teng was a superstar. She sang in Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and English, and was popular among both the young and the old. Her songs were bright and mellifluous, and her voice clear and sweet.

Zhuang had not met Teng before the hit song Sweet Honey was written. He had seen Teng on TV, and come away with a deep impression: sweet and pretty. So when the tune's composer asked Zhuang write the lyrics, Zhuang wrote the words in just five minutes.

The song has been played for decades and was the theme song for the 1996 award-winning film, Comrades, Almost a Love Story, which starring Maggie Cheung and Leon Lai.

Produced by the company behind Singing the Same Song, CCTV's brand name concert, the tour will gather pop stars from Asia to sing Teng's classic songs.

The official Teresa Teng Culture and Education Foundation will also contribute the late singer's pictures, videos and the costumes she wore on tour.