Huong Tram (her full name is Pham Thi Huong Tram), is a Vietnamese singer born in Nghe An in 1995. At the age of 18, she became the youngest artist to be nominated for the Dedication Music Award, an annual music award presented by Vietnamese entertainment newspaper Sports and Culture. She won one Mnet Asia Music Award (2018) as well as two Dedication Music Awards (2013 and 2018) and became one of the most well-loved talents in the country.
Huong Tram celebrated Tet in 2020 with her family in Saigon. This year, she will celebrate Tet in California, a first for her due to the pandemic.
How is Tet different in America from Vietnam?
I have never experienced Tet in the U.S. This year will be the first. But based on my experience in most countries where Vietnamese people live, I can see that Vietnamese proudly appreciate the family lifestyle, wherever they are. The core values of a family foster happiness and a sense of sharing in children. There still are images of a typical Vietnamese family, where grandparents tuck their children in bed and tell them stories, while spouses lovingly share their work and family life. I don’t see a big difference between Vietnamese family culture in America and in Vietnam.
Recently, your song “Tết Chỉ Cần Được Trở Về” (English translation, “All I Need at Tet is to Come Home”) has received much love from your audience. Can you tell us the meaning and message of this music video?
Although there is a sadness about being away from home, I don’t want to spread a sentimental feeling. The song is an encouragement to those who sometimes get tired when living far from their home. We need to remember why we started this journey and why we need to strive even more. It’s because we want to experience, grow, and come back home one day. We fuel ourselves with energy from the love of our homeland, families and nation.
What is the special meaning of the song for Huong Tram?
The song helps me alleviate the nostalgia for my parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, friends, and my fans in Vietnam. I feel fortunate when my audience respects my decisions. They encourage me with energetic comments, messages, and they even send me inspiring books. Those true feelings keep me smiling amid this unusual chain of days.
Do you have any plans to welcome the new year in America?
I did not dare to think about this first Tet away from home, how full of sadness and self-pity I would be kneeling before the ancestor alters all alone. I still promise to prepare a full holiday feast with traditional dishes to remind myself about family and homeland. And perhaps, my second promise is not to cry.
Quote: “I am an idealist in a positive way, an artist who wants to spread positive energy to heal music lovers.” – Huong Tram
What are your priorities these days?
I often remind myself that everything I am trying is not enough and things could be better if I put in more effort. But perfectionism has made me overstrain, leading to my decision to prioritize my physical recovery and inner tranquility, to truly know where I am and what I lack.
Maybe, I am also an idealist in a positive way, an artist who wants to spread positive energy to heal music lovers.
What has been most memorable to you while living in America?
Struggling through this seemingly endless, unprecedented time in history! You know it is a free country, but there have been many unpredictable limits during the pandemic. I treasure every friend who reaches out to me during this time. They may or may not know who I was in the past, but I don’t worry about that. I am getting used to considering myself an ordinary person, a young woman who loves singing and new journeys.
Can you talk a little bit about your artistic career in the U.S.?
I have moments of frustration, crying, breaking down and feeling small in such an enormous new world. But perhaps tears are natural since I am young and feminine. They sometimes discourage me. So, I try to be active to erase these hard feelings, face reality, and adapt. I look for friends who can support me, who have time and are willing to help as they are also music lovers.
My current music video-making process has been quite difficult because it is freezing outside and COVID-19 is still severe. Although the film crew had tested negative for the virus, we still gave each other suspicious looks. It was difficult to build trust (for standing close and working together). To start the shoot took half a day. We were constrained because of the epidemic, weather, time, and trust. Everyone has a family to take care of. It’s very challenging to sit still and count every passing moment.
How do you acknowledge these difficulties? Have they helped you to change?
They help me acknowledge the value of independence and maturity. After experiencing the passing of beloved seniors, who devoted their lives to the music and entertainment industry, I realized that life was shorter than I thought. As a young singer, I need to strive hard and live up to the meaningful gestures left by the former generation of artists.
I am a newcomer trying to integrate into a new environment. My efforts and vision are still limited, so I don’t dare say anything about my plans right now.
I am proud of myself for powerfully nurturing my dream and pursuing it to the end.
Do you have a message for Culture Magazin readers in the new year?
I hope that the Ox will be the lucky mascot for all of us this year. We will certainly have to strive even more after 2020 to heal the pandemic’s loss and grief. I heartily wish all readers of Culture Magazin to try and be creative and have a happy, healthy and prosperous life.
Photo courtesy of Huong Tram.
This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt