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Vienna Teng's 'Waking Hour'

"Waking Hour" (Virt Records, 2002) by Vienna Teng.
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"Waking Hour" (Virt Records, 2002) by Vienna Teng.

Pianist and singer Vienna Teng recorded most of her debut full-length CD, Waking Hour, while studying computer science at Stanford University. After graduating in 2000, Teng took a job as a computer engineer, but quit this past spring to perform her music around the country. Teng talks with NPR's Liane Hansen about her music and lyrics that use images of the natural world to reflect emotions.

The 24-year-old Teng began learning the piano at age five.

"According to my parents, I started singing before I could really talk," she said in an interview for the Collected Sounds Web site, which features women in music. "I'd listen to the record player and sing back the melodies note for note, but the words would be absolute gibberish."

That soon changed. According to her biography on the Virt Records Web site, Teng wrote her first song at six. She had an album's worth of material at 16, and cut a four-song extended play recording while still at Stanford. Her compositions combine classical training with her pop sensibility.

Teng, a second-generation Chinese-American, resists stereotypes and says she views her music as "universal." She's performing now at clubs and coffee houses throughout the country, promoting the album.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Liane Hansen
Liane Hansen has been the host of NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday for 20 years. She brings to her position an extensive background in broadcast journalism, including work as a radio producer, reporter, and on-air host at both the local and national level. The program has covered such breaking news stories as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Columbia shuttle tragedy. In 2004, Liane was granted an exclusive interview with former weapons inspector David Kay prior to his report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The show also won the James Beard award for best radio program on food for a report on SPAM.