The Rising Star of Lao Pop


2006-06-22
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Alexandra Bounxouei. Photo courtesy of the singer.

Lao pop star Alexandra Bounxouei , 19, was born in Bulgaria to a Lao father who was studying music in Eastern Europe and a Bulgarian mother. The family moved to Laos in 1988, where she was raised. Her music, which she describes as a combination of traditional Lao and contemporary hip-hop, has earned her glowing reviews in Southeast Asia. She released her second album, titled “Forget It,” in early 2006, and first performed in Laos in 2002 to wide acclaim, and she has now performed worldwide. Currently majoring in English at the Lao American College of Vientiane, Bounxouei records and performs music with a strong anti-drug message. Following are excerpts from her interview in May 2006 with Lao broadcaster Chaleunsouk:

“My dad, Bounthavisay Bounxouei, wrote a lot of the songs [on this album], such as 'I’d Like to Tell You'… Somsavath Songvilay with the Lao Ministry of Culture, he wrote music for me too. And I wrote one, and there is a singer who is getting ready to release an album, Sam Intharaphithak. He’s studying in Australia, and he wrote two English songs for my album. It was like a family effort, because now I have a recording studio at home. Overseeing it was my dad and my mom and me, all three. On this album there are love songs, there are songs about friends, love between friends, and songs kind of like warning songs, like ‘Narcotics.’”

“I'll certainly shoot a music vid, and there has to be a karaoke version because so many people have asked, have called for it… I said okay, we’ll certainly do it, but be patient and wait, because I’m finishing my studies, my bachelor’s degree this coming May. I have to finish my studies first and then I’ll start laying out the concept for a music video.”

Be patient and wait, because I’m finishing my studies, my bachelor’s degree this coming May. I have to finish my studies first and then I’ll start laying out the concept for a music video.

“I’m traveling constantly, to Japan, to Thailand for programs, putting on concerts in Laos, maybe going to different provinces, I have so little time to study so I have to use my time most effectively…. A lot of people have said, 'Oh, this time you’re older, your voice has changed, it’s a more mature voice and your songs have words that show more mature thinking…than the first album.' Because I was only 15 years old when I recorded that first album.”

“The way I see it, these songs should be popular with teens, because this album is unusual.”

Popular in Thailand

“The Thai television program I appeared on was called the Xaibodin Show…and this program has three announcers: one announcer is funny, and um, there are four altogether. They interviewed me, they asked about me, about the different work I’ve put out. I tried to spread some Lao-ness for people of other nationalities to see, because I want people around us, particularly here in Asia, to know about our Lao culture. And I thought I would spread that out.”

“They asked me what Thai artists do I listen to and I said Bird Thongchai. Then, unexpectedly, we were there and talking, and they had their text, and unexpectedly there was the voice of Bird Thongchai talking to me on the show, you know, and I was like, surprised… It was good fun.”

“I’ve also done charity performances many times and sang for guests when guests have come to our country…The Minister of Culture has asked me to go help. And I’ve done several charity performances, stage performances like the play Cinderella at the start of this year…That was very good love story. All the money we got from ticket sales was given to the children with visual disabilities."

“In 2003 I went to America…for two months, and after coming back I went to perform …in Japan, then after that I went to the Pattaya Music Festival 2004. Then this last year I went to Japan twice, for the Nagoya Expo 2005 and the second time was for the Lottery Club… Then I went to Korea. This year I’ve just returned from Japan this last month, April. [I visit Thailand] all the time—I’ve gone to record programs twice, and I went for the Lao New Year celebration at the Lao Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. I am trying my best now to make a CD for the Lao Entertainment Bureau, and I’m almost done. After I finish I will follow it up by singing in many countries. We expect, hope, to go around the world, and I will do everything I can.”

Original reporting in Lao by Chaleunsouk. RFA Lao service director: Viengsay Luangkhot. Translation copy-edited by Stefanie Carr. Edited for the Web in English by Sarah Jackson-Han and produced by Luisetta Mudie.

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