Singer Tan Nhan: I want to inspire my students

Singer Tan Nhan, who has become famous for her success in folk music, has consistently endeavoured to bring traditional music closer to audiences.

Singer Tan Nhan performs in her live show "Return".
Singer Tan Nhan performs in her live show "Return".

A difficult and interesting path

Q: Congratulations to Tan Nhan on your award of “Show of Year” category at the 2020 Cong Hien (Dedication) Music Awards. This was the first time a folk music artist has received this award. Can you share your feelings?

A: I am very happy. Modern music has always prevailed in the Dedication Music Awards’ categories. My success at this year’s event is a good sign, becoming an inspiration for young artists who are pursuing traditional music to make efforts to create high-quality compositions, with the strong belief that the genre’s value will be appreciated. Folk music, once spread to music lovers, will create a balance in the development of Vietnamese music.

Q: You are one of the folk music singers who always refresh themselves. In your album “Yem dao xuong pho” (Vietnamese vermilion bodices on the streets”, you combined folk music with jazz; meanwhile, light, traditional and symphonic musical genres have been connected together in your latest liveshow “Tro ve” (Return). What has helped you make the effort tos discover new creations like these?

A: The first reason is my love for traditional music. Vietnamese traditional music is a huge heritage block, containing the history, culture and spirit of Vietnamese people since the country was formed. I am extremely sorry to see that many traditional music forms have faded as few young people listen or show interest in them. Therefore, while studying music with the role of a musical instructor, I want to inspire my students. I think that every Vietnamese person should enjoy traditional music to better understand the country’s history, culture and traditional values that are always present in daily life.

I had to put in a lot of effort to make the traditional music albums“Yem dao xuong pho” and “Niu dai lua dao” (Grabbing a pink silk), with only a great passion driving me, nota financial motivation.

However, as you know, I have always had my own strategy, aiming to gradually convert many audiences to traditional music. I put traditional music in harmony with modern music like jazz in “Yem dao xuong pho”; sang folk music in the original way that I had learnt from artisans in Niu dai lua dao”; and put traditional music on the big stage in combination with symphony and electronic orchestras in the live show “Tro ve”. I wish everyone could realise that the traditional music genres of Vietnam are wonderful and easily integrated into modern life if we put them in the right position. I am glad that following great effort, I have been invited to sing traditional music at many events with more and more audiences experiencing and loving folk songs. The “Yem dao xuong pho” CDs sold out right after they were published; meanwhile, many fans sent me a lot of encouragement and compliments about the album “Niu dai lua dao”. My passion for traditional music and the audiences’ love for me have motivated me to pursue this difficult path.

Q: It can be said that you are reaffirming yourself on a new journey. The folk songs and original traditional melodies of Ca Tru (ceremonial singing), Xam singing (ballads sung by wandering blind musicians), chau van (spiritual singing) and cheo (traditional opera), were performed vocally with European classical techniques, along with symphony, traditional and light orchestras. Why did you choose this path?

A: As an artist, I am not allowed to be satisfied with what I have achieved. An artist should constantly revitalize themselves via their musical work. I am now the Deputy Head of the Department of Vocal Music under the Vietnam National Academy of Music (VNAM). Over recent years, along with performing traditional musical projects, I have written a curriculum of Vietnamese traditional music.

I wish that all singers, who were trained in the academy – the biggest music cradle of the country, will soon understand traditional music. If they know more about this art form, they will gradually love it. They will continue to inspire the next generation and their audiences. I think this will contribute to effectively preserving and promoting the values of traditional genres in modern life. In order to attract my students and audiences, I had to create different methods toward approaching folk music. This is a difficult but interesting path because I have witnessed many artists in the world who have tried their best to do the same.

Singer Tan Nhan: I want to inspire my students ảnh 1

Singer Tan Nhan

With love…

Q: Why did traditional music appeal to you?

A: Before entering the VNAM to learn European classical music techniques, I loved Vietnam’s traditional music so much. Traditional music genres have very attractive artistic value. I listened and memorised folk melodies from the Voice of Vietnam. When I was provided with background knowledge on music and vocal techniques, I wanted to return my natural instinct – the love for traditional music. I believe that the audiences who love my voice will patiently listen to my traditional music performances. I will try my best to spread the values of traditional music genres to all music lovers.

Q: What are your plans following the live show “Return” and in 2020?

A: In 2020, I will embark on the production of vinyl records of traditional music tracks which will be synthesized with jazz, aiming to integrate Vietnam’s traditional music into the modern world music.

Thank you very much for your interview!