The daughter of an opera singer and school master, Peng was born in Shangdong province in 1962. Various unofficial media accounts note that her family suffered during the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao in the late sixties, but Peng's talent for singing was a cause for hope and her ability landed her a place in the Shandong University of Arts specialising in Chinese Folk Songs.
She later attended the Conservatory of Music in Beijing where she apparently sent money home to her family as well as helping poorer students with food stamps.
At the age of 21, Peng shot to fame after performing on a televised New Year's Gala and quickly became a household name, performing regularly for the PLA.
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Peng Liyuan met Xi Jinping in 1986 when he was a mid-ranking official in the Communist party. In a 2011 interview, Peng recalled her feelings on meeting the man she would marry the following year: "My heart skipped a beat. Isn't this the ideal husband for me? A simple man with his own ideas," the Guardian newspaper reported.
Soon after they married, the couple had a daughter who has recently graduated from Harvard University last year.
Since embarking on her role as China's first lady in 2013, she has been called a style leader, compared to Carla Bruni Sarkozy, Michelle Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron's wife Samatha Cameron.
In line with the Chinese government crackdown on ostentation, however, Peng is known for her simple but elegant style. Adding substance to style, Peng has largely replaced performing with public service and has become a strong advocated of health and the control of tuberculosis and HIV.
As well as being a Goodwill Ambassador for the World Health Organization for Tubercolosis and HIV/AIDS , she is also a UNESCO Special Envoy for the advancement of girls' and women's education.
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