16 July 1943
Haiphong, Viet Nam
15 January 2021 (aged 77)
Le Thu (1943-2021) was one of the most famous singers in South Vietnam from the 1960s up until the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Born in Hai Phong as Bui Thi Oanh, she and her mother would leave their home in the communist North for a new life in South Vietnam when she was just 10 years old. At age 16 while still in high school, she and a few friends decided to stop by Bong Lai Nightclub in Saigon one night where she went up on stage to sing a song during open mic. The owner of Bong Lai was so impressed with her performance that he immediately approached her with a job offer to sing regularly at his club. Concerned that her parents would object should they find out, she accepted the offer to sing nightly at Bong Lai under the alias, Le Thu, which would become her permanent professional stage name.
After 3 years, Le Thu left Bong Lai to perform nightly at Tu Do Nightclub in Saigon in 1962. In the years that followed, Le Thu would collaborate with Jo Marcel and become one of the most popular headliners at major cabarets and nightclubs of Saigon such as Hoa Binh, Ritz and Queen Bee. Le Thu also recorded for numerous record labels in South Vietnam prior to 1975 such as Shotguns, Continental, Premier, Son Ca and May Hong. Among her most popular signature songs include Ngam Ngui, Dung Bo Em Mot Minh, Cho Toi Duoc Mot Lan, Nua Hon Thuong Dau, Thu Hat Cho Nguoi, Ha Trang and Chiec Bong Ben Duong, the theme song of a movie by the same name which had starred Kieu Chinh, Kim Cuong and Thanh Duoc that had also featured a cameo appearance by Le Thu in 1973.
Le Thu fled from Vietnam in 1979 by boat and spent 8 months at Pulau Bidong, a refugee camp in Malaysia, before permanently resettling in Southern California in 1980. In the United States Le Thu has successfully managed to continue with her career as a Vietnamese singer recording for various overseas Vietnamese music production labels and performing at live shows for overseas Vietnamese audiences worldwide. During the mid 1980s, Le Thu recorded what would later become another of her signature tunes, a song written and composed by Tran Quang Nam, Muoi Nam Tinh Cu (A Decade Apart). Her particular rendition of the song had become extremely popular with overseas Vietnamese audiences and gained her a following of new fans of younger generations. Le Thu has many appearances on both music video live shows series of Thuy Nga Paris and Asia Entertainment. On Thuy Nga's Paris By Night, Le Thu's most memorable performances have included her renditions Mai Toc Da Huong written by Nguyen Hien, Nuoc Mat Mua Thu written by Pham Duy and Hai Ngoai Thuong Ca written by Nguyen Van Dong. And for Asia Entertainment, Le Thu has appeared on video performing songs like Huong Xua written by Cung Tien, Giac Mo Hoi Huong written by Vu Thanh and duets with Khanh Ly and Diem Lien of medleys of songs written by Trinh Cong Son, Nhin Nhung Mua Thu Di and Nang Thuy Tinh, and Truong Sa, Xin Con Goi Ten Nhau and Mot Mai Em Di, respectively. Twice divorced and a mother to 3 grown children, Le Thu currently resides in Fountain Valley, California.
She died in the U.S. on January 15, 2021 at the age of 78 after a period combating COVID-19
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