We had the pleasure of having guest performers Khanh Hiep Le and Diem Trang Vo in our class MUSI207/307 Global Pop this week. A song-writer, guitarist, and vocalist, Khanh Hiep Le now works an electrical engineer in San Diego. Le also played professional soccer when he was younger. Vocalist Trang Vo now works as a realtor and lives in Northern Virginia. Both Le and Vo came to the United States from Vietnam in the 1980s.
In their lecture, Hiep and Trang talked to us about their experiences of music-making in the transnational Vietnamese communities on the east and west coast of North America, and across the Pacific Ocean in Vietnam. Recently, Hiep released a solo record of all original songs. The money made from CD sales will go toward a charity group that helps families in Vietnam. In order to accommodate for the project’s charitable aims, Hiep produced the CD in Vietnam. Collaborating with a Vancouver-based videographer, Hiep made a music video for “Cuoc Tinh” off of the album.
Trang has performed as a vocalist for over thirty years. She leads the Diamond Band, an 8-piece band consisting of three vocalists. The Diamond Band performs at least once a week for weddings and other celebrations and events in the multiethnic Northern Virginia. Of high demand, the band is booked up until next summer. Trang’s son Ken Nguyen explained that the mission of band is to bring people together through music. The band performs a diverse repertoire ranging from pop songs in Vietnamese to American oldies and Iranian tunes.
Hiep and Trang generously offered their talent to the class. Hiep performed a couple of songs from his album. Interspersed with stories of personal relationships and inspiration and vivid answers to the students’ questions, Hiep’s performance and talk showed not only his passion for music, and more importantly, the deeply meaningful role of music in his life. Trang blessed us with her beautiful voice. With Hiep’s acoustic guitar accompaniment, Trang sang “Noi Long” and “Crazy”, one in Vietnamese and the other in English, reflecting their linguistic and cultural versatility. According to Ken, “it was a real treat,” because Trang never performs without a proper microphone and sound system.
The class reciprocated with their loudest applause. After class, a number of students came up to express gratitude and exchange words with the guests. We thank you, Trang and Hiep!
Here’s Hiep’s video for “Cuoc Tinh”:
This entry was originally posted on July 1, 2009 on Yellowbuzz.