Among our group of Vu Linh's fans, I probably know of him the shortest time. I've watched Cai Luong all my life: I accompanied my mother to performances when I was young. I continued to go to Cai Luong theatres throughout marriage, up until the time I left Vietnam. I've seen and listened to many performers on stage, television, and radio; but none had ever impressed me enough.
You may think I was hard to please. Not so. Any artist who sang and performed to the best of his ability, even if he had not yet achieved top form, was enough to satisfy me. As long as the artist didn't over stretch the vong co, show off his lung capacity unnecessarily, or improvise excessively, I accepted his performance.
I've lived in the United States more than eleven years. During this time I listened to a lot of American music at work. At home I played Vietnamese contemporary music, which helped ease the nostalgia. Still, deep in my soul I felt I was missing something that could not be explained. This something kept eating at me, making me wonder restlessly.
One day I was on-line looking for the song Me Toi, meaning My Mother. I found two: one sung by Giao Linh and the other sung by Vu Linh and Dieu Hien. I downloaded both. The song sung by Giao Linh was exactly the one I was searching for. But I felt compelled to listen to Vu Linh and Dieu Hien just the same.
Vu Linh began the song with contemporary music, followed with "ho hue", a kind of central Vietnam folk style harmony, then went right into "vong co", the quintessential melody of Cai Luong. Miss Dieu Hien finished the lyrics seamlessly, truly reminding me of a dialogue between a mother and her child. The song both surprised and enticed me.
After this I found Phi Anh's site. I listened to the contemporary music and the Cai Luong medleys and discovered what I had been missing all this time. IT WAS CAI LUONG. Cai Luong was my homeland. Cai Luong was the bulk of my Vietnamese memories, which I had forgotten due to the busyness of daily life.
I've since then watched a number of videos by Vu Linh. His acting and sweet strong voice attracted me completely. I didn't decide to like Vu Linh because of his fame or his large following of fans. I actually listened to many critiques of his numerous videos and watched them thoroughly. I truly must admit that Vu Linh attained his top position in Cai Luong from his natural God-given singing voice and acting talent.
At the moment, Vu Linh's performance in Tram Hoa Mai has been the most impressive to me. Perhaps another video in the future will captivate me equally, leaving an indelible mark, reminding me always of how I came to know the name of Vu Linh.
USA, group member
Time passed. My activities and way of thinking changed and evolved. However, attending Ho Quang performances on Saturday nights was one constant.
I've known of Vu Linh's name for a long time through many words of compliments and admiration from his fans. Truthfully, I didn't pay much attention at the time. I even chuckled to myself at times, thinking, "Who is this Vu Linh whom people are so fanatic about?"
Then one day, the troupe Tran Huu Trang came to Hung Dao theatre and performed Xa Phu Di Su. As usual, my mom and I went. I don't know how to express completely and accurately my thoughts. I have only these few sincere words:
I have loved the Xa Phu
When I lived in Vietnam I knew not much about Cai Luong. Once my older sister took me to see a performance at Hung Dao Theatre. It was so long ago I cannot now recall what the story was. I didn't care that much for Cai Luong and didn't have an opinion about it.
Then I emigrated to the United States. On a weekend in 1993, a classmate asked me to record for her a video of Cai Luong Ho Quang (ancient traditional Cai Luong) named Chieu Quan Cong Ho, starring Vu Linh and Tai Linh.
Upon hearing the words Cai Luong, I didn't want to do her this favor. But my friend said, "Watch it, I guarantee you will like the main actor in the video." She was right.
The more I watched the actor, the more I felt his magnetism. The main actor was Vu Linh. I was extremely attracted to his words, his voice, his mannerism, and his acting.
I have a habit of researching the background and private lives of my idols, regardless of where they live or come from. I enjoy finding out about them and about their daily lives, even if I may never get to meet them in person.
Vu Linh is now over forty, but his acting and singing voice is still the same. It is still sweet and warm. His captivating performance has made many loyal fans inside and outside of Vietnam. And of course, I am no exception.
When I was young I watched Cai Luong often. I liked a few performers, but didn't regard anyone as my idol.
After I emigrated to the United States, I had no more opportunity to see Cai Luong. It was not yet exported out of Vietnam. About 1990-1991, Vietnam began to make and export videos of Cai Luong. The first such video I saw was Thuy Kieu - Kim Trong starring Bach Tuyet, Thanh Sang, Phuong Lien. It didn't impress me much. The costumes and style of performance didn't measure up to my memory of Cai Luong from the stage or from television in Vietnam, even though the actors were the top Cai Luong performers of the pre-1975 era. Because of this my love for Cai Luong dissipated.
A short time later, the production of Cai Luong videos escalated, especially that of the ancient historic kind called Ho Quang. The new performers of these Cai Luong remakes were of post-1975 era whom I did not know; therefore, I paid little attention.
Then one day, I accidentally watched the video Xa Phu Di Su starring Vu Linh. With only the first time seeing Vu Linh on the small screen, my Cai Luong "spirit" seemed to awaken. He was handsome, had a soulful voice full of deep emotions, and acted with much passion and intelligence. Those short minutes with the character Xa Phu were enough to bring me back to Cai Luong.
We can see in Vu Linh all the God-given talents of a performing artist. He goes into character easily and naturally. He BECOMES his character. His makeup is never overpowering but always enhances his elegant face. His taste in clothing and costume always befits his role. His voice can go deep or high, scolding, persuading, consoling, depicting sadness or joy, expressing accurately all the emotions. Furthermore, his voice is always coupled with his wonderful acting ability. His eyes, his smile, his body language are always in unison with his speech and lyrics.
Vu Linh doesn't merely play a role but actually becomes the character in the story. This talent has brought him fans from inside and outside of Vietnam. Vu Linh not only rejuvenated but brought Cai Luong Ho Quang to its top form. From this, we are not surprised to see him receive the highest honors in the art of Cai Luong Ho Quang. He did not stop at Ho Quang but continued to develop his talents in modern Cai Luong as well. His natural ability, his understanding of the characters brought him great success again. He always shows newness and freshness in each of the stories. Because of this he remains number one in the art of Cai Luong.
For a long time, I was a silent fan. But once I publicly express my adoration of Vu Linh, I will forever remain loyal to him. I leave you with these few words:
I knew not at that time