Sublime Frequencies

PHUONG TAM - Magical Nights – Saigon Surf, Twist & Soul (1964-1966) CD

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Sublime Frequencies is honored to present the first ever retrospective of Phương Tâm, the groundbreaking Saigon teenager who became one of the first singers to perform and record rock and roll in 1960s Vietnam.

By chance in early 2020, Hannah Hà (USA) learned that her mother, Phương Tâm, had once been a famous young singer, performer and recording artist at the heart of Saigon’s music scene in the early 1960s. The family had heard some mention of their mom as a singer at the time, but the extent of her legacy and the many songs she had recorded came as a big surprise. Further investigations soon led Hannah to producer Mark Gergis, compiler of Saigon Rock and Soul (2010, Sublime Frequencies), enlisting him to join her on a journey of discovery and recovery. The result is this essential document of Phuong Tam’s brief but prolific career, and at the same time, reuniting the long-lost music with its singer.

The unique strengths and qualities of Phương Tâm’s voice, coupled with her commanding stage presence, had swiftly elevated her to top billings on Saigon’s nightclub stages. Parallel to the brutality and uncertainty of an already protracted war, South Vietnam’s music and recording industry were developing at a rapid pace in the early 1960s. Globally, musical trends with wild, ephemeral dance crazes were being thought up weekly; the twist, hully gully, the mashed potato – none of them a problem for Phương Tâm. She soon caught the attention of Saigon’s leading recording companies and composers (Y Vân, Khánh Băng, Trường Hải, Thanh Sơn, Y Vũ and Mặc Thế Nhân, among others). Her energy translated unsurprisingly well in the studio, backed by electric guitars, contrabass, drums, lush brass sections, saxophone, piano, organ and rich backing vocals.