Little Teresa Teng has voice to match

The brother of late Taiwanese singer reportedly praised Hebei's Wang Jing as having vocals that most resemble Teng's

Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng died in 1995 at 42, but she remains as popular as ever, judging by the number of imitators around.

Tong Yao, from Sichuan province in China, had previously performed in Singapore. And tonight, another Teresa Teng imitator, Wang Jing from Hebei province, will sing her songs at a concert at Resorts World Theatre. More than 95 per cent of the tickets have been sold.

Speaking over the telephone from Beijing where she is based, Wang says she knows Tong and has performed with her before. "We sing Teng's songs because of our passion for her and to ensure they live on. There's not much rivalry and we get along pretty well," she adds with a laugh.

In her heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, Teng was one of Asia's biggest singers. Her much-loved hits include The Moon Represents My Heart, I Only Care About You and Tian Mi Mi (Sweet As Honey).

Even if there is competition among the imitators, Wang, 24, has some impressive backers.

Teng's former music teacher Charles Tso has championed Wang as Little Teresa Teng. And Teng Chang-fu, the late singer's third elder brother, has reportedly claimed: "This is the voice that most resembles my sister's."

In 2010, Wang auditioned in Beijing for the musical, Falling For Teresa Teng. Her voice stood out from a crowd of 5,000 and she recalls: "I sang a snatch of Rhythm Of The Sea and he started crying and he said 'My sister has returned'."

She took the lead role and has also won various Teng-related singing contests over the years.

Wang's career started at 17, when her mother played Teng's Rhythm Of The Sea and said: "Since you want to sing, you should do Teng's songs. They are pleasing to the ear but difficult to sing. If you can master her songs, everything will be a breeze."

Wang also dresses on stage like the late star, but does she find the costumes dated? She says: "Many of them are still very stylish. I often get the comment, 'clothing was so fashionable back then?'"

She adds in Mandarin with a laugh: "When I put on a qipao, I do feel that it ages me. The other costumes are fine and isn't there a revival of things vintage?"

Because she played Teng in a musical, Wang also had to learn to speak and walk like her. She says: "At first, it was imitation. But after three years, it became second nature to me."

Wang says Teng was more than just a sweet- voiced singer. "The timbre of her voice is comforting, but it's not just sweet. She also conveys both happiness and sadness through it."

The late star had plenty of suitors. How about her imitator, Wang?

Wang, who is single, giggles and says: "Teng had plenty of charisma and she had a beautiful voice. When I follow in her footsteps, many people feel that my voice can soothe them as well."

bchan@sph.com.sg