Ros Serey Sothea (family name is Ros; Khmer: រស់ សេរីសុទ្ធា; b. 1948 in Battambang – d. 1977) was a famous Cambodian singer during the nation's thriving cultural renaissance. Named "The Golden Voice of the Royal Capital" by monarch King Norodom Sihanouk (1941–1955 and 1993–2005), Ros Serey Sothea sang songs in a variety of genres, but romantic ballads emerged as her most popular works. Despite a rather short career she is credited with producing hundreds of songs and even starring in a few movies.
Ros Serey Sothea grew up in the countryside, singing songs while planting rice as a farmer girl. After her father had abandoned the family, her mother allowed her to become a professional singer and she left for the capital Pnom Penh at the age of 17. She started her singing career singing traditional Khmer music but drifted quickly towards pop music as she became more popular. She recorded at the studios of the National Radio and sang in bars and clubs such as the Mekong Night Club and the Lotus d'Or. She married the singer Sos Math but the marriage was short-lived.
During the civil war in the early 1970s various singers and musicians were mobilised, and Ros Serey Sothea was recruited into a paratrooper unit. After the Khmer Rouge took over on 17 April 1975, Sothea decided to focus her repertoire on patriotic songs to strengthen the minds of the citizens of the newly founded republic called Democratic Kampuchea. In 1977 she was forced by revolutionary and then-leader Pol Pot himself to marry one of his personal assistants and reportedly died sometime in the last quarter of the very same year, aged about 29. However, the mystery of Sothea's actual death circumstances has always been the fuel for many rumours to date. Her children died of famine.
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