A Dozen Roses

Zhang Shuang, a cheerful twenty-something from Liaoning, China, isn't typical pop-star material. She doesn't sing or dance or suffer wardrobe malfunctions. Her principal talent, to which she has devoted her life, is playing the pipa, a lutelike Chinese instrument more at home in Peking opera than Top-40 countdowns. Growing up, Zhang was realistic about how far that specialty might take her. "I thought that if I was lucky," she says, "I could join a traditional ensemble and do some teaching on the side."

Zhang has been considerably luckier: she's a member of the 12 Girls Band, a group...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!