VISITS

DVD MỚI PHÁT HÀNH

Bước chân hai thế hệ 9

Contents‎ > ‎News‎ > ‎

Le Thuy – 45-Year Career in Performing

12.11.2007 15:58
Xem hình
Le Thuy & Minh Canh in Giua Chon Bui Hong

Down the Mekong delta, one can see the rivers wind through the peaceful villages surrounded by bamboo. Year after year, these forever-young rivers carry the alluvium to nourish the paddy fields that produce fat rice crops. The people here for many generations have put in long and hard work to contribute to the agricultural civilization.


Folk songs and beautiful Vong co verses here are performed in deep sentimental meanings to show the optimism in the people yearning for a better life. The villagers in Dong Thanh, Binh Minh district, Vinh Long province are generous and open-minded, just like their ancestors who found and worked on this piece of land years ago. They are hospitable and proud of their homeland.

This special region also brought up a wonderful actress who possesses a down-to-earth, yet warm and sweet voice. She has been very well known, and her voice has not faded in her 45- year singing career, which is quite unusual in the entertainment business. That actress is Le Thuy, a very dear and beloved singer.

Ever since she was a little girl, Le Thuy was aware of how poor her parents were. As a matter of fact, her family was among the poorest in the village but richly carefree and open-minded, nevertheless. Even after her parents got married, they still lived in poverty. Her mother had given birth to 4 babies, but none of them survived. When her mother got pregnant again, there was a rumor in the village that “If this child dies, Mrs. Chin will die, too!” (Her mother’s name is Chin).
Le Thuy’s mother was so afraid of losing another baby, so she went to see an herb doctor with the hope that his medicine would protect her pregnancy. Luckily and happily, she gave birth to Le Thuy on May 20th, 1948, and named her Duong Le Thuy. When Le Thuy was 3 years old, her mother gave birth to another baby, a son this time. Sadly, their lives became more and more desperate. Her father spent all day farming, and her mother worked as a leaf-weaver. Unfortunately, the situation became direr when their house was burned down, which forced them into more debt, and they had to stay with a relative.

Having no other means to support the family and out of desperation, Mrs. Chin decided to take Le Thuy to Saigon to look for a job. Her young son stayed behind with a relative. Saigon was a big city, and Mrs. Chin stayed with a friend while looking for a job as a maid to rich families. Once she had an appointment with a family, but after a long look, the hostess gave a flat refusal with a reason that “You are very beautiful, and I am afraid my husband will fall in love with you.” At another family, she was accepted, but they would not allow a child to live with them. Thus, little Le Thuy had to live apart from her mother at a very young age. Then every 5 or 7 days she would have a chance to lie in her mother’s arms for a while, but her mother could not stay with her even a full night, regardless of how much Le Thuy cried for her.

It seemed that everything did not go the way they had hoped for -- Le Thuy’s mother had to quit her job after the host made advances toward her. By chance, she met an acquaintance from her village across a bridge in Khanh Hoi, and this one agreed to let them stay with her. Their house was in Ton Dan area near Cong Bridge in Chieu hamlet, which is now district number 4. They loaned Mrs. Chin some money to make crepes/cakes to sell at markets. At that time Le Thuy was only 4-year-old, but she could already help her mother wash the dishes. A long time later, Mrs. Chin saved enough to rent a place for their own, and no longer had to stay in her friend’s house. Mrs. Chin took on additional work to earn extra income and diligently saved her money. Eventually she was able to buy a small 4m x 4m house. Then she sent for her husband and son to reunite with her and their daughter in Saigon. Le Thuy was 7-year-old at the time but had no birth certificate. Her parents also lost all their identification cards in the fire, so when her father came to Saigon, they had to register again to get the new ones.

Le Thuy’s father’s real name was Duong Van Mot, but he had to change his surname from Duong to Tran in order to avoid the draft; hence, Le Thuy took Tran as her surname from then on. After moving to Saigon, Le Thuy’s parents gave births to 6 more children. As the oldest sister, Le Thuy had to help feeding her siblings in addition to going to the markets to buy sugar and flour for her mother to make crepes/cakes. In the afternoon, Le Thuy usually carried her younger siblings to Cau Cong market across from a radio-repair shop. The shop’s owner would play songs sung by sweet voice of famous actresses Thanh Huong and Ut Bach Lan, which gave Le Thuy deep passion for the traditional songs of Vong co.

When Le Thuy was 10, Mr. Tu Long, a band’s owner, happened to hear Le Thuy sing Vong co songs. He asked Le Thuy to join his band, and then sent her to learn how to sing traditional songs with musical teacher Nam Truyen, a barber at Kho 5 in Khanh Hoi. After that Le Thuy was sent to musician Tam Den to learn how to sing Cai luong professionally. Meanwhile, her siblings often got sick and her family seriously in debt. Also, because Le Thuy did not have her birth certificate, she could not go back to school. Le Thuy thought of finding a job to help her parents. She had a flash idea to join a troupe to reduce her parents’ burden. After listening to Le Thuy’s wishes, Mrs. Chin asked an acquaintance to take Le Thuy to instructor Minh Nguyet, a brother-in-law of famous actor Ut Tra On. He then introduced Le Thuy to the couple Muoi Cua, musician at Tram Vang troupe. The first day Le Thuy left her home at a very young age of 13, the innocent and naive girl set her footprints in Bien Hoa city, Dong Nai province to embark on her journey of becoming an actress.

Le Thuy recalls: “I remember clearly that this place used to be Bien Hung cinema, then later renamed to Nam Ha, and now it is the Cultural and Sports Information Center of Bien Hoa city. I remember because that was the first time my mother took me to this stage to place me in the care of my god-parents Muoi Cua who were musicians of Tram Vang troupe. At that time my family was very poor, and I could not find any ways to help my parents, so I asked for my mother’s permission to become a singer. In the end, Mom gave me her blessing. She made a few sets of clothes for me, and then took me to see Mr. Muoi Cua. This is also the first stage where I took my first steps in the singing career.


I still remember that before I left home, the neighbors said to my mother, “Isn’t there any other jobs she can do, why allow her to be a singer? Don’t you remember the saying: ‘If you want to plant betel vines, but mistakenly grow the black pepper ones instead, then it would have the same consequences as if a girl takes up a singing career, her future is doomed.’? Are you confident in you decision?” Because of the neighbors’ harsh comments, I had to try very hard. I had to do my best not to bring shame and disgrace to my parents, and I was determined to become successful in my singing career.

That was the first time I came here. After asking my god-parents Muoi Cua to take care of me, Mom returned home. I still remember that I lay in the corner there to sleep. This spot was for the traditional music band to perform. Because my god-parents played music, they slept on the same spot, and I slept on a mat next to them. It has been 45 years since that day, and I am sitting here now recalling every face of the members in the troupe. I still remember vividly who helped me on the first day of my career, and who taught me how to sing. Some of them are still alive, but some have passed away. For those who are still alive, I wish them good health, and I hope that they can see my success really come from their help. I remember when I came here, Mr. Muoi Cua told me to sing my favorite song, and he would play the guitar along to guide me. At that time I like all the songs sung by actress Thanh Huong, especially the one called “Co Gai Ban Den Hoa Giay” (The Girl Who Sells the Paper Lanterns)."


Starting with the Vong co song “Co Gai Ban Den Hoa Giay”, Le Thuy built up her career by taking on minor responsibilities such as reciting poems backstage or doing children’s roles. Once she asked the troupe owner to let her go home as she missed her parents so much, she thought of abandoning her dream of becoming a singer. However, after seeing the family’s misery in addition to the debt brought on by her siblings’ poor health, Le Thuy decided to return to Tram Vang troupe and was determined to learn and become an actress. She started with the children’s roles at the age of 13, and one year later, she was promoted to be the supporting actress, which was really a remarkable progress in her singing career.


Composer, Meritorious Vien Chau adds: “In 1960, I composed a short drama for the recording company Viet Hai. The drama’s name was “Quan Am Thi Kinh”, which was recorded on cassette tapes. I had already chosen most of the actors to be in the play such as Minh Canh as the superior monk, My Lan as Thi Mau, Thanh Thanh Hoa as Kinh Tam, but we still needed a child to take the part of Dao Dong who was Thi Mau’s son. Thi Mau abandoned him at the pagoda for Kinh Tam to raise. At that time I was looking for a child, and a friend told me that: ‘There’s a little girl who sings very well, you should ask her.’ So I went to Tram Vang troupe whose leader was Mr. Loi. When I saw the girl, she had not been a singer yet, but she sang very beautifully and looked very nice. I asked her to sing some short verses, she sang without the music but very wonderfully, I then decided to invite her to record that play. She memorized her lines very quickly, so the recording session was completed very fast. The records of that play are still very popular to this day. The little girl I have mentioned above is actress Le Thuy.”

It was true that after the cassette tape “Quan Am Thi Kinh” was released, many recording companies became curious about a little girl whose voice was like a bell vibrating. Le Thuy was invited to record with Minh Canh, a very famous actor at that time.

Seeing that the name Le Thuy was in high demand, the recording company ASIA invited her to record for them. Le Thuy was paid hundreds of VND, a large amount of money to her family. Le Thuy earned her stardom just after 2 years of singing.

At that time, many other troupes came to Tram Vang to see Le Thuy perform with the intention of luring her to join them by offering her higher salary, but she refused. Even though she was still young then, she knew the right thing to do was to stay at Tram Vang until her contract expired. When that happened, Le Thuy left Tram Vang to join Kim Chung whose owner was Tran Kiet Long, the General Director. Kim Chung was a big company that consisted of 7 theatrical troupes, originated from North Vietnam and later moved to the South. Le Thuy’s salary was 50,000 VND.


Composer Ngoc Van recalls: “In 1960, Le Thuy joined Kim Chung troupe. I was working as a composer, director and teacher also. At that time I saw that Le Thuy really cared about the stage, her voice was nice even though she had not had any roles yet. I then composed a drama named “Tinh Han Tham Cung” for 4 leading actresses: Kim Chung, Bich Hop, Kim Hoang and Le Thuy. During rehearsals, Le Thuy’s performance was average, but after the first show, she started to become very popular. From then on, Le Thuy was successful in every role she portrayed regardless where she performed in Vietnam. All of my plays were written for her to be in the leading roles, which made her voice even more stand out.”


After a short time in Kim Chung 3 troupe, Le Thuy quickly became a very well-known and a shining leading actress at the age of 15. During that time, around 1963, the Board whose duty was to select good actors for the Thanh Tam Award, the only prestigious award for theatrical actors, chose Le Thuy to be the gold medalist of the Artists Excellence Award.
The criteria for the award were based on the actors’ ability to sing and perform, as well as their virtue and manners. In addition, the Board also paid attention to audiences’ feedback on the plays or on the actors. The first actress who received the prestigious Thanh Tam Award was Thanh Nga in 1958. In 1964, Le Thuy and actor Thanh Sang were awarded at Quoc Thanh cinema. She was a young actress who possessed a unique mixture of alto and soprano. Her voice was and still is as cool as a breeze and as clear as crystal. From 1964, Le Thuy’s performing career became very bright. She signed a contract with Kim Chung company with the salary of 50,000 VND, but 6 months later, her salary jumped to 250,000 VND.

Translated by Onlyyou




tancogiaoduyen (Theo Baynhan - CLVN)

Comments