Ngoc Lan Biography Part 1
Maria Le Thanh Lan, known to her fans as Ngoc Lan, was born on December 28, 1956 in Nha Trang, Vietnam as the fifth child in a family of eight children. As a young girl, Ngoc Lan was an avid listener of music, particularly French music and dreamed of growing up and becoming a professional singer. From her early childhood years up until her adolescence, Ngoc Lan as a young girl incessantly sang and hummed for hours on most days. This habit of hers as a young girl at times became somewhat of an annoyance to her parents and siblings. Whenever relatives and family friends would pay visits to the Le household, little Lan would take delight in entertaining them in song as if they were her audience. She would delight these visitors who were in complete amazement of how this little child was so eager to entertain and how she possessed a singing voice with such maturity way beyond her years. It became more and more apparent to her parents that Lan was musically gifted. As she approached her adolescent years, her parents granted Lan her wish by enrolling her in music classes and voice lessons. Lan's music teachers took notice of her sweet, angelic singing voice and how she had perfect pitch which made her stand out from her classmates. Upon meeting her parents for the first time, one of her music teachers kept praising about Lan, how gifted she was as a music student and even suggested that they should seriously consider a possible future for their daughter with a career singing professionally. That teacher's suggestion did not make her parents particularly happy. Like most traditional Vietnamese families, and in particular Lan's family whom were also devout Roman Catholics, a career choice as a professional singer was virtually frowned upon.
As a teenager, Lan actively participated singing for the church choir and talent shows at school. Much to her parents' apprehension, Lan's mounting childhood dream of becoming a professional singer one day was becoming more conspicuous and seemed unavoidable as she approached her later teen years. But with the Fall of Saigon taking place in 1975, as the former state of South Vietnam surrendered to the victorious communist North, lives of many Vietnamese families would undergo dramatic changes. For the Le family, this was no different. Upon the reunification of Vietnam, a new regime would impose certain restrictions that would have great effect on Vietnam's performing arts sector. For Lan, such changes in her country in the years after the war made her childhood dreams of pursuing a professional singing career one day seemed far more distant and even impossible.
In 1980, Lan and her family left Vietnam as boat people seeking refuge in the United States. She first settled in Minnesota and began her singing career there for the local Vietnamese community. To avoid confusion with another iconic Vietnamese singer by the name of Thanh Lan, Lan decided to adopt a stage name for herself as Ngoc Lan, which means jade orchid. After establishing herself in the Vietnamese community in Minneapolis, Ngoc Lan relocated to California in 1982. It was there where she would embark on a full-time singing career, as she started recording for various Vietnamese music production labels based in Orange County, California like Da Lan and Asia Productions. Through those recordings, her popularity would grow rather quickly which led to an exclusive contract to perform at Ritz nightclub in Anaheim, California, followed by live show performances for overseas Vietnamese audiences all over the world. In the years that followed, Ngoc Lan would become a superstar among Vietnamese singers, becoming one of the most successful and celebrated "divas" of Vietnamese pop music. Throughout her incredible career, Ngoc Lan would enjoy a lengthy collaboration with May Productions, the music label responsible for producing seven of her studio solo albums, along with a pair of highly successful solo music videotapes which have been accredited by many to having revolutionized the overseas Vietnamese music industry and music video production. Ngoc Lan had achieved superstardom and to her millions of adoring fans, she would forever be a legendary icon of Vietnamese pop music.
(Continue to Part II)