|Birth name||Phan Thị Mỹ Tâm|
16 January 1981|
Da Nang, Vietnam
|Genres||Pop, dance-pop, acoustic, blues, Jazz|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, composer, dancer, actress, musical director|
Her best-known songs are "Hoạ Mi Tóc Nâu" (Brown-Haired Nightingale) and "Ước Gì" (I Wish). Other notable songs include "Hát Với Dòng Sông" (Singing with the River), "Giấc mơ Tình Yêu" (Dream of love), "Dường như ta đã" (We Seemed to Be...), "Tóc Nâu Môi Trầm" (Brown Hair, Dark Lips), "Tình Xót Xa Thôi" (Bittersweet), "Đường Xưa" (Old Paths) and "Yêu Dại Khờ" (Foolish Love).
Life and career
My Tam was born in Da Nang, Vietnam, in 1981. She started ballet at age of six, and continued for three years. She then tried guitar and organ. She enjoyed singing, but did not regard it as a future career. She won first prize in her secondary school's singing competition, and the Gold Award at Beautiful Voice Spring, the city's solo singing competition. She was chosen for the Military School of Art in Hanoi, however, because of her family situation, she enrolled in Ho Chi Minh City Conservatory where she studied vocal training.
My Tam signed with Vafaco record company in 1999 and participated in many singing teams. She received many awards in various singing competitions. Her first demo song was "Nhé anh" (Please, Dear), written by Nguyen Ha, who helped build her image at the start of her career. She co-write a soft ballad, "Mãi yêu" (Endless Love), with Nguyen Quang.
After her contract with Vafaco ended in 2000, she had her hair cut short and colored to a yellow-brown "Korean style"; she also dressed sexier. In 2000, she worked at the Music Center in Ho Chi Minh City. She entered the Asia New Singer Competition that was held in Shanghai, China, and won a bronze medal, which she considers pivotal to becoming a singer. She graduated in 2001 as a top student.
2001-2002: Early success
In 2001, My Tam released her debut album Endless Love. Her first major hit, "Toc nau moi tram" (Brown Hair, Dark Lips), was an uptempo dance song that inspired a hair dying fad. Her title track established her as a young songwriter. "My love Candle" and "Yêu dại khờ" (Foolish Love) became popular in karaoke establishments. "Hai mươi" (Twenty), written by long-time musician Quốc Bảo, celebrated her twentieth birthday. It described her youthful energy that she brought to life, and became a popular anthem among university women. "Nhé anh" (Please, Dear) was a success, and was followed with a music video; however, the song was hampered by a copyright issue. Endless Love sold 54,000 copies.
Her first audio single, "Cây Đàn Sinh Viên" (The Student Guitar), became an iconic song of the early 2000s among university students. It was used frequently by the media to portray the lives of students as warm, romantic, and artistic. It was the basis for her 2004 tour around various universities across the country.
In May 2002, she released her first video single, "Hát với dòng sông" (Singing with the River). The title song was successful, but was criticized for having lazy and incomprehensible lyrics. The album also included packaged with "Cây Đàn Sinh Viên" (The Student Guitar). A third track, "My Childhood Hometown", was initially not a hit because of the overshadowing success of the first two tracks, but eventually became a classic.
Her next audio single, "Dawn of Love", also released in May, was not as successful as "Singing with the River". However, one of its tracks, "Love If is Distant", became a karaoke hit.
My Tam released her second studio album, Not Only Me, on May 2002. The album had more dance-pop than her first album, which was soft R&B, but still had some ballads such as "Chiếc nhẫn cỏ" (The Grass Ring) and "Ánh sao buồn" (Sad Twinkle). "Búp bê không tình yêu" (Doll Without Love) was a translation of France Gall's "Poupée de cire, poupée de son". "Khi xưa ta bé" (When We Were Young) was a translation of Cher's "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)", but made in an uptempo manner. "Giấc mơ tình yêu" (Dream of Love) received airplay on radio and television, and was one of her biggest hits. "Hát cho người bỏ lại" (Singing for the one who stayed) also charted well.
2003-2005: Queen of V-Pop
In mid-2003, My Tam released her third studio album, Yesterday & Now. It contained two of her biggest hits: "Ước gì" (I Wish) and "Tình em còn mãi" (My Everlasting Love). She was surprised that "I Wish" did better than "My Everlasting Love". The former became another one of her signature songs, and she performs the song in her television appearances and concerts. The album sold 60,000 copies within the first few months, and received positive responses from audiences and critics, however, some critics complained that the album lacked coherence and had poor arrangements. The tracks were mostly common ballads, but there were some variants.
The other hits from the album included "Mùa hè thương yêu" (Summer of Love), Họa mi tóc nâu (Brown-Haired Nightingale), and "Niềm tin chiến thắng" (Beleive in victory). "Summer of Love" described a student's feeling before the summer holiday period, that she was going to miss her friend, and regretted that summer came too quickly. It appealed strongly to teenagers. "Brown-Haired Nightingale" was a reference to her earlier song "Brown Hair, Dark Lips", but while the older song was a powerful dance track about an independent girl who feels how promising her love and her life is, "Nightingale" portrayed a young, innocent, but dedicated girl who is naive about love. In response to the gaffes she committed during her interviews for the first two albums, she changed her image for the third album, and grew her hair much longer than before. "Believe in Victory" was a strong ballad that became a rally song for the Vietnamese team in the SEA Games. It is about a person who strongly believes in a day of victory, despite all the difficulties of the life around him.
Tam held a concert in two big stadiums in Vietnam. The total expenditure for the concerts was about 3 billion dong ($250,000 as of 2003), the most expensive concert funding in the Vietnamese music industry. However, she became the first Vietnamese music artist to have a sold out stadium, and her album sold over 100,000 copies, which made it the highest-selling album in Vietnamese recording history. She was recognized as the "number one pop star in Vietnam" and "queen of V-Pop." In 2004, she also held a televised concert "My Childhood Hometown", and went on a tour called "Live With Your Best".
After releasing her third album, she released a VCD album for Endless Love. It consisted of some of her hits before Yesterday & Now, and a bonus track called "Xich lo" (Cyclo).
On 16 November 2004, she became the first Vietnamese singer to participate in the Asia Song Festival in Seoul, Korea. She sang "Ước gì" (I Wish) and "Nụ hôn bất ngờ" (Surprising Kiss), and received a Plaque of Appreciation and Best Contribution Award from the Korean Minister of Culture and Tourism. She would later collaborate with Korean producers in 2005.
In 2005, she released her fourth studio album, The Color of My Life, where she composed many of the songs, such as: "Surprising Kiss", "Vì đâu" (How Come?), Untold Love, and "Nhớ..." (Remember...). Although it was less successful than her third album, "The Color of My Life" received critical acclaim for its coherence and for her creative control. It eventually sold 20,000 copies. She would later re-release the album with songs from her third album, and a bonus track called "Dường như ta đã" (We Seemed to Be...), which gave the album more of a pop/rock remix feel. She went on a Power of Dreams tour across different universities.
My Tam was nominated for the Mai Vang Golden Ochna Integerrima (Golden Orchid) award for Best Female Artist, however, when the award went to pop singer Hồ Quỳnh Hương, it sparked controversy and accusations that the awards were rigged, and that My Tam had far more votes than Huong.
2006-2008: Melodies of Time project
In 2006, My Tam worked with Korean producer Narimaru Pictures for her fifth album, Fly. She stated that she was unsatisfied with Vietnamese recording and studio techniques. She also took more vocal training, dance lessons, and expanded her music genres. Instead of her usual pop and ballad style, she added uptempo R&B, hip-hop, and soul songs. Fly was released in December 2006. Many of its tracks were released with music videos: "Hãy đến với em" (Come To Me), "Bí mật" (Secret), and Untold Love? My Tam also released a single that contained four re-recorded tracks sung in Korean: "Dường như ta đã" (We Seemed To Be...), "Giọt sương" (The Dew Drop), "Hãy đến với em" (Come To Me), and "Ngày hôm nay" (Today), the last of which was influenced by a R&B track by Alicia Keys. In 2007, she endorsed her first perfume brand called "My Time", which consists of four scents: passionate, charming, manly, and stylish.
In 2008, as part of her project "Melodies of Time", She created My Tam Entertainment (MT Entertainment). "Melodies of Time" has been planned to have five albums and a live-show, and "is about those who always look back to the past to live a better future". She released her sixth album, Trở Lại (Come Back), on 17 April. Unlike Fly, the Korean producers were only in charge of recording and mastering the record. All the tracks were composed and handled by Vietnamese producers, including My Tam, who produced "Như em dợi anh" (Like I'm Waiting For You). The album title expresses her return to the pop ballad genre with slow-jam and emotional feeling, and has a similar sound to her third album, but with the Korean influence. Come Back brought My Tam to a new level in her career: a more professional voice, significantly improved English, and more skilled singing techniques (especially on the R&B track, "Và Em Có Anh" (And I Have You). Although the production is still Vietnamese, it contained a more international vibe, excellent quality, and characterized her as an evolving artist.
On September 1, she released her seventh album, To the Beat, which was also produced in Korea. She said that the songs have uptempo beats that "make you want to move and shake when you first hear it." She promoted this album and Come Back with a concert tour titled "Multifrequency Sound Wave", which was defined as a "sound wave that can come to everywhere so that everyone can hear and enjoy it, no matter you are rich or poor, living in urban or rural areas." She started the tour with a concert in Tao Dan stadium, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. She won the "Singer of the year 2008" prize in the Contribution Award held by The Thao & Van Hoa (Sport & Culture) newspaper with participation and voting of 97 reporters. She would later release the concert DVD for "Multifrequency Sound Wave", on 17 April 2009, the one-year anniversary of her "Melodies of Time" project.
2009-2011: Television and film activity
In April 2010, My Tam released her eighth album, named after her project, Melodies of Time. In a slideshow article by ABC News (America) in August, she was listed among 12 "ABC's Global Pop Sensations You've Never Heard Of".
She participated as a judge on the fourth season of Sao Mai Điểm Hẹn, a biannual reality-television singing competition by VTV3. She judged alongside music producers Tuấn Khanh and Hồ Hoài Anh. She was noted for her frank and hard-hitting remarks, but displayed a sense of humor, and gave constructive feedback to the contestants. She received positive publicity for her fashion choices during the series as she matched her outfits to each theme in the competition.
She starred in the musical television drama Cho Một Tình Yêu (For a Love), which was produced by BHD film studio, and directed by Nguyễn Tranh of Lê Hóa. She also served as the musical director, where she composed some original songs, and mixed in others. She would later release a single of the title track with eight different versions, each of which involved a different instrument, including guitar, piano, trombone and trumpet.
The series premiered on VTV3 on 7 October, and ran for 37 episodes. It was the first to star many contemporary Vietnamese singers including herself, Tuấn Hưng, Quang Dũng, Minh Thuận, and Minh Tú. After the first episode aired, Tam's fans uploaded her songs which generated 50,000 hits overnight. On one forum, the series generated over 9,000 comments. The media considered the reaction to her work unprecedented. While the series received mixed reviews from critics regarding the plot and acting, the musical scenes were praised for their originality and congruousness.
2012-present: Vietnam Idol, eighth studio album and The Voice of Vietnam
In May 2012, My Tam performed at the MTV EXIT concert at the My Dinh Stadium in Ha Noi. She was appointed MTV EXIT's representative in Vietnam.
My Tam served as a judge for the fourth season of Vietnam Idol. She replaced Siu Black and judges alongside Quốc Trung and Nguyễn Quang Dũng. The season aired in August 2012. My Tam praised Huong Giang, a top-16 contestant and a transsexual. “The thing that surprises me is not your voice, it’s your effort," she said. "Your singing is not absolutely excellent, but your effort makes us want to see how you can improve." The contestant had previously competed as a male, and the sex change gave her a second chance to compete. From 2013 and 2014 My Tam had been working on her eighth studio album, "Tam" - to be publicised by Eliott Bishop. In April 2015, My Tam was the last to confirm to be a judge on the third season of The Voice of Vietnam. She mentored Duc Phuc to win the competition, although the public thought that her team won because of her giant fanbase throughout the country.
On 4 April 2008, My Tam established the My Tam (MT) Foundation, a charity that operates on contributions from MT Entertainment, her fans, and others. "Nâng bước ngày mai" ("Sustain the Steps of Tomorrow") is a prominent, long-term project that has reached cities and regions including Ho Chi Minh City, Huế, Da Nang, Nghệ An, Gia Lai, Bình Định, Phú Yên, Cần Thơ, Đắk Lắk, An Giang and Hà Tĩnh. The project builds houses for the poor, and also has scholarships for the underprivileged.
My Tam has a three-octave vocal range. She once sang a note for 13 seconds. She is a mezzo-soprano with a deep, powerful and clear voice. that fits her into a variety of genres, including pop, dance and rock. Prior to her album Fly (Vút Bay), she was criticized for her lackluster performances that tended to focus more on vocal mechanics than emotions. However, Fly was highly acclaimed by singer Mỹ Linh, as it "marked My Tam's wise move with her voice becoming more subtle and emotional, which would do her good in the long run".
Themes and musical style
- Mãi Yêu - Vol 01 (Endless Love) (2001)
- Đâu Chỉ Riêng Em - vol 02 (Not Only Me) (2002)
- Ngày Ấy & Bây Giờ - vol 03 (Yesterday & Now) (2003)
- Hoàng Hôn Thức Giấc - Vol 04 (The Color of My Life) (2005)
- Vút Bay - vol 05 (Fly) (2006)
- Trở Lại - vol 06 (The Return) (2008)
- Nhịp Đập - vol 07 (To The Beat) (2008)
- Tâm - vol 08 (self-titled) (2013)
- Melodies of Time (2010)
Original Sound Track
- Cho Một Tình Yêu (For a Love) (2011)
- Dường Như Ta Đã... - Vol 4.5 (We Seemed To be...)(2005)
- Liveshow: Yesterday & Now (2003)
- Live Tour: The Power of Dreams (2006)
- Live Concert Tour: The Multi-frequency Sound Wave (2008)
- Liveshow: Melodies of Times- 10 Years Anniversary (2011)
- Liveshow: LETTER TO MY LOVE (2013)
- Liveshow: HEARTBEAT (2014)
- Cho Một Tình Yêu (For a Love) (2010-2011) - as Linh Đan
- Sao Mai Điểm Hẹn (2010) - Judge (fourth season)
- Vietnam Idol (2012-2013) (2013-2014)- Judge (fourth season)
- The Voice (2015) - Judge (the third season)
|2002||Tour: "With My Tam, Shine Your Dreams" (Cùng Mỹ Tâm tỏa sáng ước mơ)||Sunsilk||Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi Capital, Da Nang City|
|early 2004||Liveshow: "Yesterday and Now" (Ngày ấy và bây giờ)||Pepsi, Sunsilk||Ho Chi Minh City (QK7 Stadium), Ha Noi Capital (National Stadium)||Production cost: 3 billion dong ($250,000 as of 2003) (most expensive in Vietnam music history), first sell-out, 15,000 attendees per night|
|mid-2004||Liveshow: "My Childhood Hometown"||VTV, Honda||Da Nang City||TV Show: Music and Friends|
|late 2004||Tour: "Live With Your Best" (Sống hết mình)||Pepsi||Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi Capital|
|2005-06||Tour: "Power of Dream" (Sức mạnh của những ước mơ)||Honda||universities in Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi Capital, Da Nang City, Da Lat City, Cần Thơ City.||20,000 attendees per night|
|Sept-Oct 2008||Live Concert Tour 2008: "Multi-Frequency Sound Wave" (Sóng đa tần)||MT Entertainment||Ho Chi Minh city (Tao Dan stadium), Ha Noi capital, Da Nang city, Buon Me Thuoc city, Cần Thơ city.||15,000 attendees per night.|
|2010||Concert: "Melodies of Time" (Những giai điệu của thời gian)||MT Entertainment||Ho Chi Minh City (Municipal Theatre),Ha Noi City (Việt Xô Center)|
|2011||Special Show: "Ten Years Of Singing Anniversary" (Kỉ niệm 10 năm ca hát)||MT Entertainment||Ho Chi Minh City (Queen Plaza), Ha Noi City (Việt Xô Center)||700 attendees (Ho Chi Minh City), 1000 attendees (Ha Noi)|
|Sept 9-2011||Liveshow "For A Love " (Cho Một Tình Yêu)||MT Entertainment||Ho Chi Minh City (Queen Plaza), Ha Noi City (Việt Xô Center)|
|Late 2013- Mid 2014||Liveshow LETTER TO MY LOVE (Gởi Tình Yêu Của Em)||MT Entertainment||Ho Chi Minh City (Queen Plaza), Ha Noi City (Việt Xô Center),Da Nang City (Trưng Vương theater)|
|Nov 2014||Live Concert Tour 2014: Heart Beat (Nhịp đập trái tim)||MT Entertainment,OPPO||Ho Chi Minh City (QK7 Stadium), Ha Noi Capital (Hàng Đẫy Stadium)||35,000 attendees per night|
|April-2015||Dreaming Together in Osaka (with Kotaro Oshio)||NHK Television Network||NHK Osaka Hall||2,000 attendees|
- These two songs would later be included in her debut album Endless Love.
- The project "Melodies of Time" has also been translated as "The Time and Me" and "The Time and Myself"
- Sao Mai Điểm Hẹn is held every two years on the even year, starting in 2004. There is another Sao Mai competition that is held every odd year.
- The attendance for her anniversary shows was limited as she wanted to hold a cozy show to thank all partners and colleagues who have offered her support over the past 10 years. There were 700 attendees in Ho Chi Minh City and 1000 in Ha Noi. There was a buffet, display of photos, and intimate talks. She performed 30 unplugged songs. Ticket fees were 2.5 million and 3.5 million dong respectively, the highest ever charged in all her shows and concerts thus far.
- Dale C. Olsen Popular Music of Vietnam Routledge 2008 "Mỹ Tâm" p57-64, 229-232
- "World gets wise to My Tam". Vietnam News. VNS. 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2012-11-21.
- Olsen, Dale A. (2008). Popular Music of Vietnam: The Politics of Remembering, the Economics of Forgetting. Taylor & Francis (via Google Books). pp. 58–64. ISBN 978-0-415-98886-5. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- Quynh, Anh (2011-07-06). "Vy Oanh chỉ sexy ở mức... cho phép". Zing.vn (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 2012-11-21. - Vy Oanh mentions that My Tam was a valedictorian at the Conservatory.
- O'Connor, Jenny (2012-09-20). "The Playlist: Top 5 Essential Artists for a Southeast Asian Road Trip". groovetraveler.com. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
- "Mỹ Tâm: "Hát bài hát SEA Games ở đâu cũng vinh dự"". Vietbao.vn. 2008-07-14. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Nhạc cho SEA Games". Vietbao.vn. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "No cost seems too high for singers making albums though the returns are uncertain.". Camly Tourism Travel Company. Thanh Nien News.
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- "Global Pop Sensations You've Never Heard Of - You Might Not Know Their Names, But Plenty of Others Do". ABC News. Archived from the original (photo slide show) on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
- "Sao Mai điểm hẹn 2010: Mỹ Tâm tham gia "Hội đồng chat chít" - 9/24/2010 - Giadinh.net" (in Vietnamese). Baomoi.com. 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
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- "Truyền Hình Cáp Hà Nội - Hanoi Broadcasting And Television Service Company" (in Vietnamese). Hctv.com.vn. 2005-08-29. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
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- NLD (translated by Thuy Hang) (2006-08-03). "Canadian Consul General Happy in Viet Nam". Saigon GP Daily. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
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