Sao Mai contest winner determined to promote folk singing

October 30, 2022 - 07:58
Singer Lê Minh Ngọc who has been named winner of the Sao Mai (Morning Star) national singing contest, tells Ngô Minh about her plan to become a professional singer and promote her homeland's folk singing.
Young singer Lê Minh Ngọc has been named the folk singing category winner at the Sao Mai (Morning Star) national singing contest. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Television

Singer Lê Minh Ngọc has been named winner of the Sao Mai (Morning Star) national singing contest but did not spend much time celebrating the victory. She tells Ngô Minh about her plan to become a professional singer and promote her homeland's folk singing.

Inner Sanctum: Why did you compete in the folk singing category in the Sao Mai national singing contest?

I was born and grew up in the central province of Hà Tĩnh. When I was a little girl, I was used to immersing myself in folk songs. I grew up with ví dặm (Nghệ An Hà Tĩnh folk singing) people singing by the Lam River. People in my homeland love singing. They sing when they are relaxing, catching fish, and even rowing boats. On summer nights, when the moon is bright, young and old, men and women sing with each other. All these things nurtured my passion for folk singing.

Ví dặm chanting is the pride of people living in the central region. So I chose that category to express my pride and respect for my native land's heritage and to introduce the beautiful culture to audiences nationwide.

Inner Sanctum: Sao Mai is the national singing contest gathering musical talent nationwide. What made you confident enough to join?

I'm careful in every detail, such as make-up and costume, especially when selecting songs that suit my voice. I tried to make my performance attractive in terms of audio and visual aspects.

Inner Sanctum: How do you feel after your win?

I'm so happy and proud to have fulfilled my promise to bring glory to my homeland. I want to dedicate this award to my grandfather, who supported me in my singing career since childhood. When I won this award, he was no longer with us, so I was even more moved; there were no words to describe my feelings.

However, for me, it's just the beginning.

The song contest or other competitions that I have succeeded in are just a launch pad to have more access to the audience. I understand that winning the top prize in a contest is just a starting point.

The way to success is still ahead, requiring me not to rest on my laurels but to build my own path.

Currently, many successful and famous artists are in the folk music category. I will try to find a new approach to the music market with my homeland heritage of ví dặm singing. It's my own style.

Lê Minh Ngọc is determined to promote her homeland's 'ví dặm' folk singing. VNS Photo Hòa Nguyễn

Inner Sanctum: Why did you choose the contest as a platform for you to develop your career?

In 2009, when watching TV female singer Bùi Lê Mận shining brightly and winning the category of folk music, I was full of admiration and set a goal to sing once on the Sao Mai stage.

My father is a police officer, my mother is an elementary school teacher, and my family has no artistic tradition, but I am endowed with the ability to sing. I performed in school and the locality's cultural activities from age three. I learned music and sang during the summer holiday at the Hà Tĩnh Children's Centre. I studied piano and sang at Nguyễn Du College. I have become more confident and sociable thanks to music, from being a shy girl initially.

Inner Sanctum: How does your family support you in your career?

My parents did not instantly agree to let me follow the singing career. So, they limited my time in participating in music activities and watching TV music programmes. I even had to hide from my family many times to perform.

Understanding my passion, my parents silently monitored my musical talent and development to give me the appropriate direction. At the end of secondary school, my family decided to let me join an audition at the Military College of Culture and Arts, with the condition: "If the teachers say you have a talent for singing, then you can continue."

It was 2015, and at the end of the audition, I was 15 years old. My teachers advised me to listen to more songs sung by famous singers like Bùi Lê Mận and Anh Thơ, who also gained success and fame after victory at the previous singing contests.

My passion for music was so intense that my parents had to organise a family meeting. After "voting", they agreed to allow me to pursue music.

I proceeded to study for the entrance exam at the Military College of Culture and Arts. My parents were busy with work and could not accompany me. My grandmother and I went to Hà Nội to rent a small motel room near the school to study for the exams.

Then I, a 15-year-old girl, was fortunate to be acquainted with celebrated singer Hồng Hạnh - who taught me the most basic vocal techniques, helping me take my first steps in my singing career.

Inner Sanctum: What are your upcoming plans?

I'm still young and have much to learn. I will continue studying at the National Academy of Music to improve myself.

Now that I have won the Sao Mai award, I still have to work harder not to disappoint the audiences who love me. I'm working on a music video project, which is expected to be released later this year. VNS