Ha Thanh (1937-2014) was a famous Vietnamese singer. Born on July 25, 1937 in Hue, Central Vietnam, she grew up as the fourth eldest in a family of ten children. Ha Thanh began her professional singing career at the age of 16 after winning first prize at a talent contest sponsored by Radio Vietnam in Hue. Her performance of Dong Song Xanh (The Blue Danube) swept the judges off their feet earning her the highest marks among contestants. Immediately following her victory, Ha Thanh became a professional singer for the Radio Vietnam station in Hue, Central Vietnam.
For ten years, Ha Thanh remained content working as a vocalist for Radio Vietnam in Hue. Her popularity with listeners had grown steadily through the years making her the most popular singer in Central Vietnam. As Ha Thanh's singing voice would gain new audiences through Radio Vietnam's broadcasts in other regions, Saigon, the center of Vietnam's music industry, eventually came calling. In 1963, Ha Thanh made her first trip to Saigon to record a couple of songs at the invitation of Song Nhac record label. It was during this trip that she would be introduced to musician Nguyen Van Dong through a mutual acquaintance, singer/songwriter Manh Phat. Prior to returning to her hometown of Hue, Ha Thanh would make a memorable live performance of Ve Mai Nha Xua (Coming Back Home) with Nguyen Van Dong's band known as Tieng Thoi Gian for a music festival concert held in Saigon. Two years later, she would relocate to Saigon, this time at the invitation of another prominent record label by the name of Continental which was headed by Nguyen Van Dong.
Much like the legendary collaborations between singers and composers like Thanh Thuy with Truc Phuong, Thai Thanh with Pham Duy and Khanh Ly with Trinh Cong Son, Ha Thanh found enormous success through her recordings of songs written by Nguyen Van Dong such as Hang Hang Lop Lop, Chieu Mua Bien Gioi, Nho Mot Chieu Xuan and Mai Dam Son Khe. From 1965 until 1975, Ha Thanh was one of the most popular female singers of Vietnam. As one of the busiest recording artists in extremely high demand, her collaborations for numerous record labels in Vietnam such as Premier, Son Ca, Viet Nam, Shotguns and Truong Son allowed her to command the highest salary among singers in the music industry of Vietnam in her day. Once resettled in Saigon, Ha Thanh continued her work with Radio Vietnam as one of the most renowned musical performers in radio broadcasting. She became a headliner performer at the prestigious Tu Do cabaret in Saigon and also performed for many music festivals and concerts for ARVN troops and universities. In 1969, Ha Thanh was selected by the government of South Vietnam to perform on a concert tour for Vietnamese foreign exchange college students studying abroad in France.
Prior to resettling in the United States, Ha Thanh like many other popular singers from the pre-'75 Saigon era had been restricted by the communist regime from continuing with her music career in Vietnam. Unable to earn a living as a professional singer for almost a decade after the Fall of Saigon had made life difficult for Ha Thanh and her daughter. At the time of her arrival to the United States, Ha Thanh was already approaching middle age. In a field such as the entertainment industry where age can certainly play a significant role in one's potential for success, Ha Thanh's return to the music business after resettling in the United States was not without its challenges. However, due to her past career achievements and rather large following of fans she had acquired from way back in Saigon prior to 1975, Ha Thanh's legendary iconic status would sustain the interests of several prominent music producers and events promoters within the overseas Vietnamese music industry in the 1980s. Among those producers was Le Ba Chu, the owner of Giang Ngoc music production label, who had also been a fan of Ha Thanh. In 1985, Ha Thanh traveled to California to record her first solo studio album, Hai Ngoai Thuong Ca, for the Giang Ngoc label. Despite such a lengthy absence, the album was quite well received among music lovers within the Vietnamese diaspora worldwide. A devout practicing Buddhist, Ha Thanh made many live performances at Buddhist temples and at charity concerts for the Vietnamese-American Buddhist Association. She had also recorded two other solo studio albums that were comprised of Buddhist religious songs: Ngat Huong Dam (1999) and Nhanh Duong Cuu Kho (2003). During her career after leaving her native Vietnam, Ha Thanh would be invited to perform at many live shows for overseas Vietnamese audiences across the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. Ha Thanh's daughter, Kim Huyen, for a brief period in the 1990s had followed in her mother's footsteps and became an overseas Vietnamese singer, as well.
Ha Thanh died on January 1, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts from leukemia.
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