Who the heck is … Vienna Teng?

viennatang

Eleven years ago, Detroit-based singer Vienna Teng left her cushy job as a software engineer at Cisco Systems in California to pursue a career in music. Since then, she’s recorded five albums, including her newest, “Aims.”

Grassroots Growing: After the release of her 2002 debut, “Waking Hour,” Teng went from playing coffeehouses to appearances on NPR’s “Weekend Edition” and “Late Show with David Letterman” in less than a year. On “Aims,” Teng, usually accompanied by simple piano, ventures into new territory, using guitar and percussion loops.

Music First: Teng wrote the music for the songs on “Aims” sometimes months before writing lyrics. “I’ve never been more excited or grateful to be a musician, and it’s exactly because music’s role in my life is so expansive now, so adventurous,” she says. For the first time, Teng also co-produced the album with Cason Cooley, who has worked with rising indie stars Derek Webb and Katie Herzig.

Grad School Intermission: Teng took a break from music to attend grad school at the University of Michigan in 2011. Her focus — business and environmental studies — was a longtime interest: She donated proceeds from her second album to the advocacy group the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW; Thu., 7:30 p.m., $33; 202-787-1000. (Metro Center)

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Miriam Berg · October 10, 2013