Young singer combines traditional folk songs with modern electro-dance

March 16, 2022 - 08:24

Singer Nguyễn Ngọc Hà made the most of 2021, despite its difficulties, using her time to make a series of traditional xẩm (blind travelling singers) music videos, accompanied by electronic dance music.


Singer Nguyễn Ngọc Hà has been credited with being the first to mix traditional folk music with modern electronic dance. Courtesy Photos of the artist. 

Singer Nguyễn Ngọc Hà made the most of 2021, despite its difficulties, using her time to make a series of traditional xẩm (blind travelling singers) music videos, accompanied by electronic dance music.

She has been nominated for the Vietnamese Young Outstanding People 2021 award.  

Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình sat down for a chat with the singer to discuss her success. 

You have been nominated for the annual Vietnamese Young Outstanding People 2021 award, along with others like Miss Grand International 2021 Thùy Tiên and music talent Nguyên Lê. Who do you think will emerge as the winner?

Being one of the 20 nominees for the award is a great honour. I'm proud of that. We are born for a mission. The more difficult things are, the stronger we become.

It is impossible to measure hard work or inspiration, which is in abundance among the people on the nomination list. The top 20 are selected by a council with specific criteria on crucial aspects of the process. Many of them have won international awards and their contribution deserved to be honoured. 

What did you gain last year in your career?

Last year was a difficult time for Việt Nam and the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I'm a young artist and I tried to do my best. I wanted to make something meaningful and to share the pain and loss of the people while paying tribute to the doctors and frontline workers who are fighting in the pandemic.

Researcher Nguyễn Quang Long said that music always reflects the reality of life and society in any situation or period and plays an important role in improving the human spirit. 

Last year, I produced four music videos, mixing traditional xẩm with electronic dance music. It was my way of saying thank you to all the people fighting against  COVID-19 and the great unity which will help us to overcome these difficulties.

Hà performing at the Hà Nội Singing Contest 2020. 

What made you want to produce xẩm music videos, as a pop singer?

In 2020 I was second-placed at Hà Nội Singing Contest. My song Xẩm Hà Nội was choosen as the best song of the Hà Nội title. 

In the final round of the contest, I had to sing a folk song. I never sang a folk song live before so I was very nervous. One of my theatre colleagues suggested I meet musician and folk music researcher Nguyễn Quang Long, to learn singing xẩm

I'm not a folk singer and I knew I could not compete with other traditional folk singers. So, I decided to add electronic music and dance. Dance is my strong point. 

After the contest, I produced the Xẩm Hà Nội music video and I got a lot of positive feedback for it. 

You are possibly the first one to sing xẩm with electronic music, but it seems to be a growing trend. What do you think?

Music trends change over time, that is why artists make music videos trendy. I don't make it trendy because of my love of traditional music. I have a desire to dedicate popularising traditional music to young people. 

It is really difficult to combine traditional music with electronic music, not only xẩm, but all genres. However, it is a rewarding challenge. 

I hope that more young artists inherit and develop our traditional music. I have found my career thanks to the audience's love for xẩm.

What is your next plan?

I will release a new music video about Mường folk music at the end of this month. I'm ethnic Mường and I want to contribute to preserving and developing my ethnic group culture. 

I had the idea for this video thanks to comments from my audience - they suggested that I sing in Mường. 

The lyrics are poetic, telling the story of Phoebe landing on earth at the invitation of Mường people and playing with them. In Mường culture, the Phoebe is a symbol of peace, prosperousness and other good things. VNS

VN actress