The First Diva of Vietnamese Pop Music - Ngoc Lan
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Ngoc Lan was queen of the Vietnamese pop music industry and was adored by millions of Vietnamese fans from all over the world. At the height of her popularity, Ngoc Lan became stricken with Multiple Sclerosis which prevented her from continuing with her music career and ultimately claim her life on March 6, 2001. I had the privilege to know and love her personally. Here is my tribute to Ngoc Lan.
It's been nearly a year since I've posted anything on NgocLanRemembered.BlogSpot.com. I'm just amazed that there are still an average of 200 viewers to this site daily. Thanks, everyone, for your continued viewership. I promise to publish some new postings in a few days. Your viewership is greatly appreciated.
I'm very happy to announce that our Facebook page for Ngoc Lan Remembered has just reached the milestone of 1,000 likes. Thank you to all of our readers for your viewership here and for having liked our Facebook page. This could have not been possible without you.
Viktor Lassley AKA Thien Phu
Ngoc Lan Remembered Admin
Ngoc Lan was one of those people that if she didn't have anything nice to say about someone, she wouldn't say anything at all. During the time I knew her, we rarely spoke about other singers. I do recall only one occasion while she was driving me around to look for costumes for our video shoot that I just flat out asked her at point blank just who was her favorite singer. She hesitated a bit to answer and then she said, "I think Kieu Nga sings really well." And then I asked her, " Well, who was the singer that had inspired you? Who was your idol growing up and before you became a singer?" She paused for a bit. Then she uttered, "Thanh Lan". Of course, I had to put my two cents in and tell her how much I had also idolized Khanh Ha and Julie Quang, in addition to her. I asked her what she thought of them. All she said was that she liked them, especially Julie Quang whenever she sang in French. Being the nosy person I am, I had really wanted to ask her which singers did she not particularly care for. But I didn't dare go there.
Kieu Nga and Ngoc Lan
When I asked Ngoc Lan who was her favorite Vietnamese male singer, she readily answered that it was Duy Quang. I then told her I liked Duy Quang's voice, as well. And then she said something to the effect that all singers are great in their own distinct way. I could tell this was her way of closing out the conversation and hinting to me that we should move on to another subject. Somehow I had gotten the feeling that she didn't like to be asked such questions. I think perhaps she might have been concerned that if she were to disclose who she did and didn't like among Vietnamese singers, the word just might get out which might bring about tensions between some of her colleagues and herself. I'd have to say that that was a quality I really admired in Ngoc Lan. She was obviously smart enough to realize that in the world of showbiz what you say can easily get misconstrued and end up biting you in the back. From that day on, I never asked her about what she thought of other singers ever again.
I did pay attention to one other thing during the times I had spent with her. And that was, who she would listen to while she was driving me around, which cassettes were in her selection kept in her car. Most of the time she would be listening to songs that she was in the process of rehearsing and about to go into the studio to record. A few times I heard her listening to Olivia Newton-John. And other times, she would play Elsa Lughini. As for Vietnamese singers, I remember listening to one or two cassettes of Kieu Nga. And there was one occasion when she made me listen to Nhat Truong and Thanh Lan on an old cassette recorded way back in Saigon prior to 1975 during the entire drive. She kept playing over and over again, Nguoi O Lai Charlie and Mua Dong Cua Anh. I do like Thanh Lan's voice. But as far as Nhat Truong and his music, just imagine how I felt listening to it considering how I was a kid who had grown up in the United States and was then just familiarizing myself with Vietnamese music. Nhat Truong's music is anything but even remotely close to that of American pop music. A few months later, I finally figured out the reason why she had me listen to those two songs over and over that one day when I saw that Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang had just released another duet album which included their version of Mua Dong Cua Anh and again, on some compilation cassette of various artists produced by Lang Van that included their duet version of Nguoi O Lai Charlie. It just goes to show how much of a hard worker Ngoc Lan was. Even when driving around, rather than listen to music as a way to relax, Ngoc Lan was actually listening with her work in mind.
When I created our Facebook page for Ngoc Lan Remembered a year ago, I was a bit worried that we wouldn't get anyone to like our page. Then after it had reached a total of over 100 likes within a few days, it made me a bit more at ease and also realize that there are others who appreaciate what I've done here on NgocLanRemembered.BlogSpot.com and such links I've set up like the Ngoc Lan Remembered Pinterest board, the Ngoc Lan Remembered hub article on HubPages.com, and of course, the Ngoc Lan Remembered Facebook page. These were all created with the same purpose of paying tribute to our beloved Ngoc Lan. That was really gratifying to know that people do like us. I'm proud to announce that the page now has a total of 886 likes. That goal of reaching 1,000 likes doesn't seem so far fetched anymore. Thank you to all that have taken the time to like the page. I can't wait until the day when we do reach our goal of 1,000 likes. I have a feeling that day is coming soon.
Thien Phu AKA Viktor Lassley
P.S. Remember to keep liking us on Facebook, friends!
It is rather hard to believe but it has been a year now since NgocLanRemembered.BlogSite.com was created. I still remember just how agonizing it was trying to figure out what to write on that very first posting. There was so much I had wanted to say about Ngoc Lan that I really didn't know where to begin. I think it took me a total of 8 days to finally come up with just a paragraph that consisted of only 7 sentences total for the intro. I was really terrified and kept thinking to myself, what if what I have to say isn't agreeable with what my fellow fans of Ngoc Lan want to hear? I certainly didn't want to disrespect her legacy in any way. She is afterall one of my biggest idols, inspiration and at one point like a sister to me.
Luckily, to my delight the overwhelming positive feedback I've received from readers have made me quite gratified. I'm glad to know that by my creating this blog site I'm doing my part in keeping Ngoc Lan's legacy alive. I sincerely thank all of our readers in this past year and hope that you will all continue to read future articles I'll be posting here on NgocLanRemembered.BlogSpot.com.
After recording solo albums for other labels such as Giang Ngoc and May Productions, finally in 1994 Ngoc Lan decided to release an album under her own label, Ngoc Lan Musique, entitled Buon (Sadness). This would be by far not her best work. The album seemed like a mishmash of contemporary songs thrown together at the last minute. None of the tracks on the album, which included the title track written by Y Van, Trai Tim Nguc Tu written by Duc Huy and a pair of uptempo songs written by Quoc Dung, Hoang Vang and Tim Dau, left any impression on me at all. It seemed Ngoc Lan's deliveries of all the songs on this album were rather mundane. I'm assuming perhaps her health matters played a significant role in her lackluster performance. But being such a devoted Ngoc Lan fan, I went out and purchased for myself a copy despite how unimpressed I was after hearing some of the tracks played on the radio for the album's promotion. If I were to choose any of the tracks on this album to be the most bearable to listen to, it would have to be Tinh Trong Phut Giay written by Ngoc Trong and to a lesser extent, Buon, the title track. I must say though, during the same year that this album had been released I had heard the title track recorded by another singer for the first time ever. That was by singer Thanh Ha on her debut solo studio album, Mot Doi Xin Nho Mai, released earlier in 1994. I usually don't like to compare Ngoc Lan with other singers, especially whenever it is in favor of anyone other than Ngoc Lan. But I must admit, I preferred Thanh Ha's rendition of Buon over Ngoc Lan's rendition here.
Diem Xua has been one music production label known for its high quality in production. When Diem Xua came out with a duet album combining its top male vocalist, Vu Khanh, with Ngoc Lan, this was no different. The album was entitled Nguoi Em Sau Mong and released in 1992. Of the twelve tracks, the album included four duet tracks that were very well done: Hoa Rung Ven Song, Con Quy Lay Chua both written by Pham Duy and Chieu Phi Truong and Bai Ca Hanh Ngo both written by Le Uyen Phuong. My favorite of the three was Hoa Rung Ven Song. Their voices blended beautifully with this song. Of Ngoc Lan's solo tracks included a pair of songs written by Duc Huy, Xin Mot Ngay Mai Co Nhau and Mot Tinh Yeu. When it comes to songs written by Duc Huy, you just can't go wrong with Ngoc Lan as the vocalist. Ngoc Lan also did a fine job with her deliveries of Tuan Khanh's Noi Niem and Quoc Dung's Anh Da Thay Mua Xuan Chua, as well. Out of Vu Khanh's solo tracks, my favorite on this album was Dan Trong Dem Vang (Johnny Guitar). Although I prefer listening to duets between Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang, I must admit this was a very competent project that combined two very fine vocalists in a very pleasant style.