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'Bonjour Vietnam' Tune Tugs Expat Heartstrings
Song spread over the Internet appeals to those living in far off lands
Nguyen Ngoc Trung (ngoctrung)     Print Article 
Published 2006-02-11 15:49 (KST)   
Chat rooms and forums in the Vietnamese community around the world have been stirred by a moving and beautiful song called "Bonjour Vietnam" by French composer and singer Marc Lavoine and performed by a young overseas Vietnamese living in Belgium, Pham Quynh Anh, age 19.

The sweet voice of the Belgian-Vietnamese girl and the meaningful lyrics have attracted a lot of the attention other Vietnamese singers would like, even though the song, in French, has not been officially launched.

Singer Pham Quynh Anh
©2006 PV
A friend of Quynh Anh accidentally posted the audio clip on the Internet. The song then spread quickly and became popular among Vietnamese. Many wish her to perform in Vietnam in the near future.

Through her voice, many older people have changed their attitude toward young Vietnamese living overseas, who they thought had no nostalgia for the land of their birth.

"I like the song so much. I feel the singer is nostalgic for the homeland, especially when she stressed the word 'Vietnam' with a native accent. The composer, Marc Lavoine, must have a great love and understanding of Vietnam to be able to produce such a beautiful song," Thu Hong, a 20 year-old economics student in Hanoi, said of the song.

Hanh Tran, a Vietnamese consultant for Radio Australia Online, said, "I used 'Bonjour Vietnam' as an epilogue for my presentation about my recent visit to VN. Everyone loved it."

"Bonjour Vietnam" can serve as Vietnam's latest cultural ambassador, having been broadcast worldwide.

Jim Downing, Fojo (Fojo is Sweden's national and international mid-career training institute for journalists) coordinator in Sweden, said, "I also liked the song very much. It made me long to be back in Vietnam."

Ronda Hauben, a U.S. researcher, shared the same feeling, saying the song takes her back to the anti-Vietnam-War movement in the U.S.

"The song is very gorgeous. It makes me want to visit Vietnam. It brings tears to my eyes, thinking of the anti-war movement against the U.S. war in Vietnam and that now we can communicate with each other across the world," Hauben said, adding, "Something special and new and good is happening in the world. It's not only the trouble that seems so strong in our day-to-day lives; there is something underneath it all that is precious and pregnant. We wanted peace and collaboration, not war or domination."

Pham Quynh Anh was born to a Vietnamese couple living in Belgium. She signed a contract with Rapas Centre, a branch of Universal in France.

In an interview, Domenech, the manager of Rapas Centre, said that "Bonjour Vietnam" is in an album of 15 songs performed by Quynh Anh that will be launched in the coming year. Domenech stressed that the clip and lyric circulated on the Internet are not the final version.

'Bonjour Vietnam'

The draft version in English of "Bonjour Vietnam," which has been circulated on the Internet, is given below:

Tell me this name, strange and difficult to pronounce
That I have carried since my birth
Tell me the old empire and the feature of my slanted eyes
Describing me better than what you dare not say
I only know you from the war images
A Coppola movie, (and) the angry helicopters
Someday, I will go there, someday to say hello to your soul
Someday, I will go there, to say hello to you, Vietnam
Tell me my color, my hair and my small feet
That I have carried since my birth
Tell me your house, your street, tell me this unknown entity
The floating markets and the wooden sampans
I could only recognize my country from the war photos
A Coppola movie, (and) the helicopters in anger
Someday, I will go there, someday to say hello to your soul
Someday, I will go there, to say hello to you, Vietnam
The temples and the stone-carved Buddha statues for my fathers
The stooping women in the rice fields for my mothers
Praying in the light to see my brothers again
To touch my soul, my roots, my land.
Someday, I will go there, someday to say hello to your soul
Someday, I will go there, to say hello to you, Vietnam (twice)
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Nguyen Ngoc Trung

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