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Desire to sing on hometown stage

Not only is it sweet and touching, but Ho Quang 8's voice also carries the thoughts and emotions of a person who has experienced many ups and downs in life.

Ho Quang 8 is a famous singer in bolero music who built his career in Northern Vietnam. He is well-loved for his smooth, touching voice and unique ability to deliver songs, but only some people know that he is originally from Gio An Commune, Gio Linh District, Quang Tri Province.

After 33 years of singing, his sweet voice has accompanied him on stages at home and abroad, winning the hearts of thousands of music lovers. However, Ho Quang 8 still longs to sing on his hometown stage.

Arduous journeys

Ho Quang 8 was born into a large family of many children living under challenging circumstances. His childhood was filled with days lacking food and clothing, and he had to walk a long distance to reach school.

Desire to sing on hometown stage

Ho Quang 8 (front row, second from right) in the position of judge of the Global Vietnamese Singing Voice 2023 contest.

Recalling when he was little, Ho Quang 8 was deeply moved: “My paternal hometown is Gio Linh in Quang Tri, but my father moved to the North in 1954 before starting a new life in a poor rural area in Thanh Hoa Province. When I was young, my family was impoverished, yet I still harbored a passion for music. I often went to school hungry but still enthusiastically joined the artistic performances of the school and my class. At that time, it was rare for homes to have a radio to listen to news, and even rarer was access to lyrical music. So when I learned there was a house in the village where bolero music would play in the evening, I often anticipated the time and ran over to listen to the songs, then remembered the lyrics and sang my favorites from A to Z.”

In 1989, a fateful event occurred: a troupe came to recruit dancers in his hometown. Seeing Ho Quang 8 eager to audition, they let him sing a song. The next day, he was informed of being accepted into the troupe. One year later, he passed the entrance exam for Thanh Hoa College of Culture and Arts. Studying there for a while, he continued to get admitted to the Hanoi Conservatory of Music, which was the dream of many students at that time. Still, for Ho Quang 8, that journey was arduous, filled with sweat, tears and constant effort.

Unlike others with favorable conditions, he had to find a job to make ends meet. After graduating from the conservatory, Ho Quang 8 struggled when he chose his own path of singing bolero songs. His decision was discouraged by many because the music genre wasn’t popular at that time. While his classmates, like famous singers Trong Tan or My Linh chose chamber music, folk music or light music, Ho Quang 8 was still determined to stay faithful to the chosen path. For a long time, he struggled to find the opportunity to perform on stage, being rejected by many shows because his music didn’t fit their themes and he was unable to negotiate rates of pay.

Persistent pursuit of bolero music

Persevering with his choice, the name Ho Quang 8 gradually became familiar to an audience, as his singing touched the hearts of listeners naturally, like the small stages he sang on. With old-fashioned, sentimental songs, the vocalist evolved an unusual color in the Northern music picture.

Desire to sing on hometown stage

Singer Ho Quang 8 has been pursuing bolero music since the start of his career

Since the 2010s, Ho Quang 8 has released a number of debut albums, including the second one entitled “Nostalgia of a Love”, which was well received by bolero fans. In particular, this album features the song Lovesick over a Female Singer, which he delivered uniquely and impressively. The song was highly praised, and he received continuous invitations to sing in tea rooms, at events, and on large stages. Since then, music lovers all over the country noticed a rare singer in the North who was successful in this genre.

He shared his motivation, saying: "Pursuing this genre of music, I believe in its lasting vitality, with songs that have touched the listeners' hearts for generations. However, conveying the story in such a song to the audience is not easy. I chose bolero music, which means I follow my own path so as not to get mixed up with anyone else. An even more important thing is that the love for rustic, lyrical melodies has permeated my soul, urging me to sing up."

Not only is it sweet and touching, Ho Quang 8’s voice also carries the thoughts and emotions of a person who has experienced many ups and downs in life. Singing dated songs, he always tries to find new ways to express them and leave his personal mark. Applying the knowledge learned at the conservatory, his vibrato, pronunciation and employment of vocal techniques is wonderful, with sufficient softness but also clarity. Renowned bolero songs composed before 1975, such as Who Suffers for Whom, Lone Shadow, City of Sorrow, Purple Sadness and Pink Card, Soul of the Stone Statue, or The Train to Hometown, were performed successfully by Ho Quang 8. On October 2, 2017, the singer held his first concert in Hanoi to celebrate his 28 years of singing, themed “I’ll Be Gone at Midnight”. The event featured noted artists, including Hoai Linh, Chi Tai, Trong Tan, Anh Tho, Thanh Thanh Hien, Duong Hong Loan and MC Thao Van.

The music night was a great success, with many songs associated with Ho Quang 8’s name and excellent performances from the guests as a tribute from the singer from Quang Tri to his supporters. Unlike dazzling torches, his singing is like a smoldering flame that leaves lasting impressions on listeners.

Over the past 33 years, he has always had his audience, which allows him to regularly release numerous songs and music videos, thereby receiving hundreds of millions of views and interactions, especially on the YouTube channel named Ho Quang 8 Official.

Long-time wish to stand on hometown stage

In August 2023, we happened to hear the voice of Ho Quang 8 at the inauguration ceremony of Ho Van lineage hall in Tan Van Village, Gio An Commune. It seemed he expressed his feelings for his paternal hometown in each line of the song The Shanty on the Banks of Hien Luong River. Throughout his career, with a voice rich in the Central region’s color, Ho Quang 8 has sung many songs with the vibes of the Binh Tri Thien countryside: Hue and You, Love for the Central Region, Rain on Hue Streets, Love Story of Perfume River and others. In particular, the land of Quang Tri was the source of inspiration for Ho Quang 8 to successfully perform the song The Shanty on the Banks of Hien Luong River, which was unforgettable for the listeners. He shared that, songs about the Central region in general - and about Quang Tri in particular - were ones he sang with all his heart and soul, and he always hoped to fulfill his father’s duty towards his hometown on his behalf...

Desire to sing on hometown stage

Press conference by singer Ho Quang 8 at the concert in Hanoi celebrating his 28-year career

“Until now, I still remember vividly the sight of my father sitting under the porch, on the steps of the thatched-roof, earth-wall house in Thanh Hoa. He shed tears and recited the names of his immediate family in Quang Tri with deep longing. At that time, because my family was so poor that there was not enough food to eat, we couldn’t buy a coach ticket from Thanh Hoa to Quang Tri. My father had to sadly harbor his love and nostalgia for his hometown until the end of his life. For my family then, just arriving in Quang Tri and crossing Hien Luong Bridge was enough to fulfill my father’s wishes, but partly because of poverty and partly because the war was still fierce, no one had the means to return,” the singer recalled.

In 1997, Ho Quang 8 caught a motorbike taxi to go back to Quang Tri, hoping to find his relatives as his father had told him before his passing. Remembering his father’s story, he found his way back to his hometown - Tan Van Village, Gio An Commune, Gio Linh District. At that time, many of his relatives had passed away, but he still felt that everything appeared very familiar. The long-time expat was happy to have returned to the embrace of his hometown, as well as proud to carry the simple but loving and faithful blood of Quang Tri people.

However, there’s one thing that has always haunted him: even though he has performed for people in all regions of the country, he has never had the opportunity to officially perform in Quang Tri. "I always want to return and sing on a stage in Quang Tri, such as in festivals to serve the people. Being able to sing loudly in my hometown must be a very special feeling," he said.

Currently, Ho Quang 8 is busy being a judge for a number of domestic and foreign singing competitions, especially the final-ranking gala of the European round of the Global Vietnamese Singing Voice 2023, which is taking place in Berlin, Germany. In the near future, the vocalist plans to organize a concert on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his singing career, with a large number of domestic and foreign artists participating, as a thank-you to those who always watch and support him throughout his artistic career.

Jenna Duong- Hoai Diem Chi


Jenna Duong- Hoai Diem Chi

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