Vietnamese-American singer dies of Covid, leaving generations of fans in grief


The singer, 51, died at Cho Ray Hospital in Saigon on Tuesday, despite being treated with all kinds of techniques, including extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) surgery.

Previously, in July, Nhung delayed plans to return to the United States to reunite with her daughter, as she planned to volunteer in Vietnam during the raging pandemic.

The news about Nhung facing Covid in recent weeks has worried many Vietnamese music lovers, who could not hide their shock upon learning of the singer’s death.

Many people, including the Vietnamese diaspora in the United States, have shown their grief by posting videos of Nhung’s performances in recent days.

Before his death, Nhung was famous for his philanthropy and his talent for Vietnamese bolero, folk and country music.

Singer Phi Nhung. Photo courtesy of the singer

Nhung was born in April 1972 in Gia Lai province, located in the highlands region of central Vietnam. Her mother was Vietnamese and her father was an American serviceman.

Nhung started singing even though his family had no musical tradition. As a child, her love of music gradually took hold when she listened to songs from cassettes. When she was a child, she practiced singing every time she sat in front of the house, swinging the hammock to lull her siblings to sleep.

In the late 1980s, 17-year-old Nhung left his hometown for the United States to settle with his relatives in Tampa, Florida. She struggled for a living, cleaned the floors and worked as a waitress to earn money. But the dream of becoming a singer was still burning.

Nhung once met Trizzie Phuong Trinh, a famous American-Vietnamese singer, at a pagoda in Florida. Loving Nhung’s voice and beauty, Trinh persuaded her to move to California, beginning her music career. At the time, Nhung was a single mother working as a seamstress. After a week, she decided to move to California with $ 300 in her pocket.

Nhung first lived in Trinh’s house. Sending her daughter to an acquaintance, she worked in a CD store during the day and a waitress in the evening. She used all her free time to learn to sing and pronounce the North Vietnamese intonation, which is particularly suited to Vietnamese love songs.

After two years, Nhung released his first two singles, “Noi Buon Hoa Phuong” (Phoenix Flower’s Sadness) and “Noi Lai Tinh Xua” (Rekindle Old Love).

Nhung quickly breathed new life into the Vietnamese music industry abroad. Before that, Huong Lan was a big star of folk and love songs. In Nhung, the audience gradually paid attention through her rustic voice, instead of displaying vocal technique. She gradually became a huge star welcomed by many record companies.

In 1999, his MV “Ly Con Sao Bac Lieu” (Song About Bac Lieu Blackbird) attracted $ 30,000 in investment and became a hit when it was released. A year later, Phi Nhung released the MV “Phai Long Nguoi Con Gai Ben Tre” (Falling In Love With A Ben Tre Girl) with a budget of $ 40,000. The image of Nhung in a ao dai, telling a love story on the Rach Mieu ferry has left its mark on the hearts of generations of fans. The “queen of the record” has sold over 100 singles albums – a record for Vietnamese overseas.

Born in the highlands, she captured people’s hearts with a series of tubes on the Mekong Delta. The majority of her fans became attached to the melancholy of the singer’s voice.

In the 2000s, she sang often with singer Manh Quynh, distributing numerous hits.

Phi Nhung often hid his childhood pain behind his smiles. At the end of 2019, she shed tears as she recalled her eventful childhood in a game show.

In an interview, she admitted that she has been in love on several occasions, but does not feel confident to become a wife or a mother. She nurtured her love for her daughter, living in the United States, and 23 adopted children in Vietnam.

In recent years, Nhung has become famous for his philanthropy across Vietnam, from mountainous areas to flooded areas.

During the ongoing outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City, she spent more than two months cooking and giving food to poor people across the city.

She once said she would have a show on August 22 with Quynh and celebrate her daughter’s birthday in the United States. But her plans were scrapped as she wanted to continue her charities in Saigon.

According to doctors at Cho Ray Hospital, Nhung was a fearless soldier, battling the virus to his last breath while worrying about his adopted children, many of whom live in a pagoda in southern Binh Phuoc province.

“My life is blessed with nice people. God loves me so that I can be an artist and live in the love of the audience. When I get too much, I have to give,” Nhung said.

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