Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Film director Lương Đình Dũng has just released a DVD of a documentary featuring late well-known folk singer Hà Thị Cầu.
The 68-minute documentary titled “Xẩm Đỏ” was made four years ago; however, it has just hit the stores.
The documentary has no voice over and features Cầu, then considered the oldest living singer of xẩm art, which was generally performed by blind artists who roamed to different places to earn their living by singing.
Xẩm artists often play traditional instruments, such as đàn bầu (monochord instrument) or đàn nhị (two-string instrument accompaning the songs). Sometimes bands are formed with one singer and others who play traditional instruments.
Explaining the title "Xẩm Đỏ" (Red Xẩm), Dũng said when he thinks about then xẩm art, the colour red immediately comes to his mind. Each lyric and melody stirs up feelings inside the audience.
Dũng said he didn’t want to do a voice over for the documentary as he wanted the audience to feel they were directly communicating with the main character.
The team producing the film visited Cầu’s home in Ninh Bình Province many times. They filmed her while talking, singing and doing her daily chores.
Dũng said he has another 1,200 minutes of film on the artist and will provide the footage to anyone interested in obtaining material on the art of xẩm.
Dũng said he would give half of the proceeds from DVD sales to the artist’s children. The rest was to be donated to other living xẩm artists who are in need.
“The sum may not be large, but it shows my love for the art,” he said.
Artist Hà Thị Cầu (1928-2013) was from the northern province of Nam Định. She was borned into a family with three generations of xẩm singers. Her father was blind and earned a living by singing. At the age of 8, she accompanied her parents to earn money by performing the art.
When she was 11, her father died and she moved to the northern province of Ninh Bình with her mother.
She learned from noted local xẩm singer Chánh Trương Mậu, who at that time managed six groups of singing in the province. At 16, she got married to Mậu and had seven children.
Cầu led a simple life and earned her living mostly through her art. She retired at the age of 80.
Her songs and folk melodies have been recorded as part of the heritage of folk art. She has received the title Folk Artist by the Folk Art Association and the Meritorious Artist award by the State.
The folk singer died at the age of 85 in 2013. — VNS