Wednesday, 17/05/2023 08:19

Celebrated Vietnamese pop musician vows to keep on standing

Musician Trần Tiến. Photo sao247.com

The 4.000-seat hall at National Convention Centre was full for musician Trần Tiến’s concert last Saturday in Hà Nội.

Now living in the southern province of Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu, the 76-year-old Hanoian, born and bred, was very happy to meet his hometown's audience at the gig entitled Nửa Thế Kỷ Phiêu Bạt (Half a Century of Wandering).

He is one of the first musicians to compose in multiple genres such as jazz, country, rock, hip-hop and rap. His colleagues call him "The King of Vietnamese pop songs".

The musician spoke about his music and his fight against cancer in recent years.

You turned 76 on May 16 and this concert was a birthday present. Was it a nice surprise?

The concert was produced by a female impresario. She is very brave to gather skilful artists to create the concert for me. Music director Đức Trí and theatre director Cao Trung Hiếu kept it a secret from me. 

I am very happy because the audience still loves me and I can still stand on the stage at my age. 

I am also moved to know that there are very young people in the audience that didn't have enough money and the organisers gave them free tickets.

It reminds me of my song Mặt Trời Bé Con (Little Sun). I wrote the song for a little girl who did not have money to buy a ticket to watch my performance.

Did the audience expectations put pressure on you?

Yes, but I remember my late colleague musician Trịnh Công Sơn said that we should try to write good songs for life and we should be away from the stage, communication and meetings in show business to live as normal people.

I returned to the stage because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has pushed millions of people into difficult conditions and grief. I sang with my band to share and encourage frontline workers and COVID-19 patients as well.  

I am a person who doesn’t like to be pressured to sing in a money-making show. I like wandering and singing for charity. However, nobody wants to wander singing in modern life.

I have had over 1,000 shows and I have travelled 46 countries in the world to sing for overseas Vietnamese. With my 55-year career, I still want to sing like a boy, not an older man. I am always myself on the stage whether it is in front of thousands or just a few people.

Musician Trần Tiến performs at the concert last Saturday in Hà Nội. Photo tienphong.vn

Your Du Ca band used to be very popular in the 1990s and then it disbanded. You once again set up a band with young artists in recent years. Could you tell me about the band?

I established Du Ca band in 1991. It wandered through the country performing to raise funds to build a music school for orphans and underprivileged children. 

Wandering to sing made me refreshed and inspired me to write songs that have been popular.  

In 2021, I invited three young artists, violinist Hiền Lê and guitarists An Nhiên and Thành Nghiệp to join me in performing. We volunteer to sing for soldiers in Trường Sa (Spratly) Archipelago and field hospitals to encourage frontline workers and patients in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What is the significance of music in your life?

Music has meaning only when it touches the listeners' heart. I have never published my music works or made albums. I am like a cowboy still roaming on horseback or a nomad wandering to sing with a guitar until the day I can't.

You wrote two songs Sắc Màu (Colours) and Không Gục Ngã (Not Falling Down) when you were in the hospital. What inspired you to write these songs?

I wrote Colours when I was at death’s door. Sometimes, melodies flash in my mind when I was in a serious health condition.

I remember the days in the hospital when a young man and I have to get radiotherapy together 14 times. I did not see him the next time and I was informed that he died. 

I also nearly fell down at the 30th time of radiotherapy. At that moment, the lyrics and the melodies of Not Falling Down resounded in my ears. 

I immediately wrote down the scores. However, I could not stand up when I finished and I asked the doctor to give me iPad to record. After that, I sent the recording to musician Thanh Phương asking him to adjust and arrange the song. 

I want to say that in any situation, even though my health and physical condition may not be as good as before, the spirit and will of each person including me will not back down and never surrender to fate.

You are a prolific musician. What song do you like the most?

One of my brothers said that he likes Cô Gái Sầm Nưa (Beautiful Girl in Sầm Nưa) song the most. When I wrote this song I was self-taught. At that time I was a staff member of the Hà Nội Singing and Dancing Troupe. 

The best songs are written with personal emotion and truthfulness, not skill. I later graduated from the Việt Nam Academy of Music. But I am not sure which song is favoured most by the audience. 

I think that the song which was written without music knowledge is the best. 

Recently, young artists Đen Vâu and Phan Mạnh Quỳnh invite you to join their projects. Could you tell me more about this?

I am old but wanted to do something new. The young artists ask me to work with them and I was happy to do. - VNS

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