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Sóc Trăng singer lights up cải lương stage

Update: October, 28/2018 - 07:00
Star attraction: Young actress Lâm Thị Kim Cương (right), a student at the Cần Thơ College of Culture and Arts, won the 2018 Chuông Vàng (Golden Bell) Award from HCM City Television. Photo courtesy of organisers
Viet Nam News

By Thu Anh

"Everything that I am now is due to my love for cải lương," said Lâm Thị Kim Cương of Sóc Trăng Province, the winner of HCM City Television’s 2018 Chuông Vàng (Golden Bell) Award.

Audiences who have seen Cương’s performances on stage have been deeply moved by the power of cải lương (reformed opera), the south’s most popular form of traditional music.

Twenty-year-old Cương has faced challenges trying to lure audiences back to cải lương theatre.

“I realised that without the fans’ support, cải lương would not survive,” said Cương, speaking before nearly 1,000 guests at the awards ceremony at the 2018 Golden Bell Awards at the HCM City Television Studio recently. 

The event aimed to find and encourage young talents for the region’s traditional theatre.   

Cương competed with eight other singers to win the prize.

She captured the hearts of the judges and audiences by singing excerpts from Chuyện Tấm Cám (The Tale of Tấm and Cám), a play based on a popular Vietnamese fairy tale. 

She also performed Tiếng Nguyệt Cầm (Voice of the Moon-shaped Guitar), a famous vọng cổ (nostalgic tunes) song, a genre of traditional music, written by veteran composer Huỳnh Thanh Tuấn.

She received VNĐ100 million (US$4,300) in cash along with her trophy. 

“I gave everything I had in my performance. It has been a long and hard road to be here today,” said Cương, a student at Cần Thơ College of Culture and Arts.

Signature style: Lâm Thị Kim Cương works hard to demonstrate her own personal style and innovation on stage. Photo courtesy of organisers
Fresh talent: Young artists perform at the 2018 Golden Bell Awards organised by HCM City Television. The event aimed to find and encourage young talents for the region’s traditional theatre. Photo courtesy of organisers

Born into a poor family in Sóc Trăng, Cương began singing cải lương when she was a child.

Her first lessons came from her grandfather, a musician in a travelling art troupe in the Mekong River Delta region.  

Cương and her older sisters sang cải lương together while raising ducks in the paddy fields.

“My sister, Lâm Ngọc Hoa, participated and won the second Silver Prize at the 2013 Golden Bell Awards. She now works for the Cao Văn Lầu Cải Lương Theatre in Bạc Liêu Province. She’s my idol,” said Cương.

Cương said Hoa had offered financial support while she was at the college.

“Hoa told me only education would help us develop our art.”    

To prepare for her appearance at the 2018 Golden Bell Awards, Cương studied singing and dancing.

She was also trained by veteran artists Phượng Loan, Quế Trân and Hữu Quốc. 

“Cương is very talented. Her beauty and sweet voice are often her signature attraction. She will be a star in the future with her hard work,” said Meritorious Artist Phượng Loan, who has nearly 30 years of experience in the industry. 

"The work of young female performers like Cương proves that cải lương is still alive," added Loan.

While Cương deeply respects her older colleagues, she doesn’t want to live in their shadow. 

To escape from under it, Cương said she had worked hard to demonstrate her own personal style and innovation on stage.

Cải lương has a distinctly urban feel and I think we have enough to attract young people,” she said. VNS

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