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Vienna Teng's 'Waking Hour'

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

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