Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ngoc Lan and the Men She Loved

During the time of my friendship with Ngoc Lan, she was still a very young woman.  Beautiful, young, successful, classy, educated, but she had yet to have a ring worn on her finger.
As a single woman, who was also young and beautiful, it was not surprising that Ngoc Lan would have her fair share of suitors pining away for her heart.  But this young, beautiful single woman also had a very successful career, another quality that made Ngoc Lan an even better catch to potential suitors.  But there was one other quality she had that would send her over the edge, and that was....besides being a young, beautiful and successful single woman, she was also Ngoc Lan.

Duc Huy and Ngoc Lan
Like she had explained to me, being who she was, and having such tremendous fame and success, many men found her to be intimidating.  Please keep in mind that I didn't write this post with any intention of dishing out any private details about her personal life.  But I did get to meet a nice man by the name of Thanh Lam, a famous saxophone player in the Vietnamese community, who was then her boyfriend.  He was very charming, as well as good looking.  Together, I thought they were an attractive and classy couple.  But Ngoc Lan was extremely busy with her career, as he equally was with his. However their relationship ended, that is between them.  Unlike many other females, Ngoc Lan never was the type to be talking endlessly on the telephone or writing notes to her boyfriend. I never once heard of any story from other singers of Ngoc Lan ever causing any public scene fighting with a boyfriend.  That was not Ngoc Lan's style.  She was much more mature and always carried herself like a lady.

Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang on their
last duet album together.

Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang
recorded some of the most
successful duet albums in the
overseas Vietnamese music industry
throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Ngoc Lan and Duy Quang paired up
for the second time on a duet
album that had been produced
and released in 1990 by Dream Musical

When someone looks the way Ngoc Lan did, it is expected that members of the opposite sex will tend to take notice quite often.  I saw this happen quite a few times whenever I had gone places with her.  Now, as far as the places that we went to where we were surrounded by Vietnamese people everywhere, I really can't say that Ngoc Lan would have men cluster to her trying to ask her out on a date.  Afterall, she was Ngoc Lan.  I'm certain that many Vietnamese men wanted to, but this was Ngoc Lan we're talking about here.  Her fame in addition to her beauty, although were attractive qualities, simply intimidated a lot of Vietnamese men.

Ngoc Lan and Tuan Ngoc

Tuan Anh and Ngoc Lan -
What is there to say except that
the Vietnamese rumor mills
can be quite creative at times?

Trinh Nam Son and Ngoc Lan at a live performance.

I do remember one particular occasion when she and I had gone to Neiman Marcus so she could try on this dress she had recently purchased there and had sent back for alterations.  While she waited for the sales clerk to return from the stock room with the dress after the completed alterations, this handsome Caucasian man who was also a patron at the department store obviously was deeply enchanted by her beauty.  As he struck up a conversation by saying hello to her, followed by "You are very beautiful."  I was amazed at how she handled it.  Up until then, I had only seen how most other Vietnamese girls usually responded in similar situations.  It was either one of two ways, both of which I don't particularly care for.  The first way is really annoying.  For some reason, a lot of Vietnamese girls tend to think that it is cute if they should talk in the most meekest volume as if they were trying to impersonate the voice of  an infant.  They would usually respond with, "No, I'm not" in a whispering voice, followed by a shrug as if someone had just forced them to gulp down a glass of pure lime juice without any sugar.  The other way, I guess, would be how the more liberated Vietnamese female would respond.  And that is, upon receiving, they would give them a mean look immediately to make sure that the man realizes that what he just said was beyond deplorable.  And if he knew what was good for him, he should never even think of saying that to another Vietnamese girl, or he just might end with a few bullets through his window sometime soon.  I realize I might be in the minority, but I really don't care much for either of the two ways I've seen Vietnamese girls respond whenever they've been paid a compliment on their beauty.  I was really impressed with Ngoc Lan's response to that man.  She looked up at him with a friendly smile, and said, "Thank you.  I'm very flattered."  I could tell that she wasn't interested in him, yet she remained pleasant and kept her composure. Like any man who was already smitten, he proceeded anyway to ask if she would be busy this coming weekend.  Ngoc Lan smiled again at him, and answered, "I'll be out of town this weekend."  He asked again about the following weekend, and she responded with the same answer.  Before he was about to ask about the weekend after that, Ngoc Lan replied with, "I'm actually going to be out of town every weekend for the rest of this year and all the way until March of next year I'll then have a weekend off."  The man thought she was joking.  But she really wasn't since she did have a booking each week for the rest of the year to do one night shows all around the world.  As she said her goodbye to him, she briefly explained why her weekends were all booked by disclosing her profession.  Ngoc Lan's reason for the explanation was so that he would not think she was blowing him off in a rude manner.  She also told him that she was not interested because she already was in a relationship, and thanked him again as she said goodbye.  I thought that was really classy.  Now, why can't other Vietnamese girls carry themselves like Ngoc Lan?  Maybe, that's why she is Ngoc Lan. 

Ngoc Lan had managed to reach to the very top in her profession.  She was a celebrity.  Unlike most other professions, a singer that is successful in his or her career is synonymous with a singer that has become famous.  Ngoc Lan was well aware of that.  In her own words, she once taught me how "fame is like a double-edged sword and should always be something that a singer should always try to maintain with the most caution."  I must say, she definitely knew exactly what she was talking about. 

Ngoc Lan and the real man in her life, her husband, Kelvin Khoa, at their wedding.

Most people who knew Ngoc Lan personally will agree with me when I say that she was one very candid individual.  Rather than resort to similar habits and activities partaken by most other singers, Ngoc Lan was rather reserved and had better things to do.  Never would anyone find Ngoc Lan carousing around late at night at bars and parties.  In fact, the only times Ngoc Lan could ever be seen at any nightclub was when she was there to fulfill a singing engagement.  Now that I think about it, even if she had wanted to hang out at bars like how many of her colleagues frequently do, she wouldn't be able to even find the time to hang out because of her extremely busy non-stop work schedule.  Despite the precautions Ngoc Lan had taken in order to avoid becoming a target of gossip or scandal that the public seems highly capable to start as quickly as circulate, her celebrity status was also not immune to falling victim to the vicious rumor mills.  I guess the same applies with celebrities of all different cultures.  The public just loves to gossip about famous people, and rumors do spread around quickly.  Perhaps I'm a bit biased, but when it comes to comparing how fast rumors can spread around among different cultures, the Vietnamese mouth more than likely would take the cake in that marathon. 

Like most other singers who pair up with another singer of the opposite sex as a duet, rumors of Ngoc Lan having dating Duy Quang, as well as Duc Huy, Trung Hanh, Jo Marcel, Elvis PhuongTuan Ngoc, and Trinh Nam Son were in full circulation within the Vietnamese gossip mills.  There were even rumors of Tuan Anh and her.

I remember how she would just laugh at how ridiculous these rumors were.  As a matter of fact, besides Thanh Lam whom she had dated over ten years ago before she would meet one other fellow that she would become romantically involved with.  It was a fellow by the name of Kelvin Khoa, whom she ended up marrying.  Since I had become friends with Ngoc Lan and really had gotten to know her, I must say, that there are such singers out there who simply are nice and proper.  Not every singer lives his or her life filled with scandal after scandal.  From what I know, Ngoc Lan was a talented, beautiful singer with a lot of class and was always a lady.

As for the rumors about herself that had been well circulated among Vietnamese rumor mills in all four corners of the world , Ngoc Lan pretty much took them with a good attitude.  That was when she started borrowing a phrase I often said, "That's Vietnamese people for you.  You just gotta love them." 


  1. Thank you for the beautiful words about this outstanding artist whom I love and who so greatly deserves them. There's no one like her....

  2. Thank you for the beautiful words about this outstanding artist whom I love and who amply deserves them. There's no one like her.........RIP Ngoc Lan.

  3. Hi Thien Phu, So Thanh Lam and Ngoc Lan were actually romantically involved?. Not that I'm disrespecting anyone at all but Thanh Lam was also the arranger of all Ngoc Lan solo studio albums produced by May Productions. He also played the saxophone in the CDs produced by Ngoc Lan Musique.

    It seems that romantically or not, they were very good friends and respected each other since he was also the conductor of the Choir that sung in her funeral.

  4. Thanks for your viewership. Yes, Ngoc Lan and Thanh Lam were an item from what I remember. Not to disrespect Kelvin Khoa, but I thought they made quite a beautiful pair. By the way, I adore Kelvin Khoa, as well. I must say, Ngoc Lan had good taste in men.