Peng Liyuan (彭丽媛) is one of the top Chinese folk music singers and a widely acclaimed soprano. She is the wife of Xi Jinping, the newly elected general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) as of November 2012 and again as president of China as of March 14, 2013.
Born in November 1962, Peng is a native of Yuncheng City in eastern China's Shandong Province. She began to take vocal lessons at a local arts school, focusing on folk songs, at the age of 14. As a student of high caliber, she was selected to join a performance tour of six European countries in 1980. That same year, Peng joined the People's Liberation Army (PLA), becoming a solo singer with the Qianwei Song and Dance Troupe of the PLA Jinan Military Area Command.
In 1981, Peng continued her vocal performance studies at the Central Conservatory of Music and obtained a master's degree in traditional ethnic music performance in 1990. Following her graduation, she became a vocalist with the Song and Dance Ensemble of the PLA General Political Department and later served as the Ensemble's director.
Peng's first national performance, and her claim to fame, came during the earliest rendition of the CCTV New Year's Gala in 1982, when she sang "On the Plains of Hope." Since then, she has obtained many honors in singing competitions nationwide. Her songs focus on ethnic or rural Chinese themes and generally deal with a wide range of emotions expressed by ordinary rural citizens.
In 2012, the Chinese National Academy of Arts bestowed the first China Arts Awards on 23 Chinese creative individuals who had made significant contributions in their respective fields. Peng Liyuan was one of them.
Some of Peng's most representative work:
Peng attaches great importance to her family. She was quoted as saying, "Family is what you can rely on. It is a warm and peaceful harbor. If I have to make a choice between family, vanity, social status and money, I'll choose family without any hesitation."
She told People's Daily during an interview in 2009, that her family lived an ordinary life just like that of many other families. "There is bickering in my family, but we mostly enjoy happiness," she said and added that Xi makes a good husband. It has been reported that whenever Xi is away from home, he always brings one or two of his wife's albums and a portable cassette player.
Peng has been actively involved in public welfare undertakings for years. She has financially aided dozens of students in receiving schooling over recent decades.
In 2006, the 43-year-old Peng became a volunteer to create awareness on AIDS across the country.
After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, she and her daughter were both involved in the relief efforts. According to media reports, she donated 200,000 yuan and joined another 20-plus artists in charity performances, touring some of the quake's worst-hit areas. Her 16-year-old daughter went to Mianzhu, offering her services to a local school.
In 2009, Peng was appointed anti-smoking ambassador by the Chinese Association for Tobacco Control.
In addition, she is also a national ambassador for the control and prevention of tuberculosis in China. In 2011, the World Health Organization made her a goodwill ambassador for tuberculosis and HIV. She participated in a series of promotional videos, which also featured the renowned film star Jackie Chan.
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