by Greg Prato, All Music Guide --
Once called the Bob Dylan of Vietnam by renowned folk singer Joan Baez, Trinh Cong Son penned more than 600 songs during his long and illustrious career, becoming one of Vietnam's most beloved singer/songwriters in the process.
Born on February 28, 1939, in the Central Highland province of Daklak, Vietnam, Son grew up in the ancient imperial capital of Hue and by the late 1950s, decided to put his planned profession (teaching) behind him in favor of music.
During the 1960s, Son rose to prominence with anti-war songs during the height of the Vietnam War; as a result, he was persecuted by the South Vietnamese government in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
When the war ended, most of Son's family fled the country, but Son decided to stay and spent more than a year in forced labor "re-education camps."
One of his biggest hits, "Lullaby (Ngu Di Con)," about a mother grieving her son who has gone off to war, became a hit in Japan in 1972, and although his pro-peace songs about war's pointlessness were banned in his country at the time, bootlegs regularly circulated throughout South Vietnam and overseas.
Son's popularity was restored by the late 1980s, as his songs were performed by some of Vietnam's biggest pop artists, including vocalist Hong Nhung.
On April 1, 2001, Trinh Cong Son died at the age of 62 in a Vietnam hospital, from complications brought on by diabetes.
There are two singers' names often associated with Trinh Cong Son. One is Khanh Ly (pronounced "Khanh Le-e"). The other one is Hong Nhung.
Khanh Ly, with her unique vocals, helped popularize Trinh Cong Son music in the early years. They often performed together in South Vietnam university campuses. The voice and the music seemed to be inseparatable.
Later on in his life, Hong Nhung, many years his junior, replaced Khanh Ly's place until his death.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at his funeral in Saigon, for a spontaneous "ad hoc" funeral concert, making such a spectacle the largest in Vietnamese history. His music remains very popular among Vietnamese, old and young.
Click on the link listed below for "a tribute to Trinh Cong Son":
The following are some Trinh Cong Son's songs:
Tien Thoai Luong Nan, written and performed by Trinh Cong Son:
Song Ve Dau, written and performed by Trinh Cong Son:
Chiec La Thu Phai, written by Trinh Cong Son, performed by Quang Dung:
Chieu Mot Minh Qua Pho, written by Trinh Cong Son, performed by Tuan Ngoc:
Uot Mi, Trinh Cong Son's first song, performed by Thanh Lam:
Cuoi Cung Cho Mot Tinh Yeu, performed by Khanh Ly:
Ru Tinh, performed by Hong Nhung: