At the age of 30, Tuan Hung can now sit back and proudly survey all he has accomplished in the frenetic world of entertainment.
The former leader of Hanoi Conservatory’s Jazz Discovery Band – which represented Vietnam in the European Jazz Festival 2004 – Hung now leads a team on the highly rated VTV3’s Music Game show.
Strange inspiration: Hymns
Ten years since he released his first album, Don Xuan (Welcoming the Spring) with Mua Xuan Band, Pham Tuan Hung has just released Giac mo nhiem mau (Magic Dream), a unique compilation of his own hymns.
Speaking on the long hiatus from recording, the talent says he considers the new release his second breakthrough – a blend of jazz and pop as a better vehicle for Vietnamese listeners than straight Jazz.
“Music has neither border nor limitation,” Pham Tuan Hung said, “a year ago, my friend asked me to help him mix a hymn CD. After that I became interested in that kind of music.”
Tuan Hung says he has also undergone a personal transformation after working on the music.
“I have found the peace in my mind and I am free from bad thoughts and habits. It’s a breakthrough.”
Pham Tuan Hung recalls, “I used to be a turkey cock who always thought of myself as the best. But everything has changed since I met the songs of praise.”
Other musicians have recorded CDs for church, but Pham Tuan Hung’s is the first to make it to market.
He said a new live show, Giac mo nhiem mau, is about to take off, along with other hymn discs.
Asked why he released the CD in the US even eight months before introducing it to local audiences, Tuan Hung says, “I got the inspiration for the songs during my stay in the US, I wanted to express my gratitude to the place with the first 1,000 copies. Also, the licensing procedure in Vietnam takes such a long time. I only received permission to sell the other 5,000 copies back home, in June.”
Born to music
Born into a family with three generations of professional musicians, Pham Tuan Hung showed a passion for music from a very early age.
He trained at the Hanoi Conservatory for years in accordion, jazz, piano and composing before becoming a lecturer at several musical schools.
He was considered an excellent student at the Swedish Malmo Music Academy and America’s famed Becklee school in Boston.
Pham Tuan Hung also entertained the former presidents of the US and Russian Federation – Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin, respectively – on their visits to Vietnam in 2000 and 2006.
“Jazz is my absolute advantage. I can be compared with local counterparts in many other kinds of music. But no one can compete with me in jazz,” the musician claims.
But it hasn’t all been the rock star lifestyle.
His Mua Xuan Band – which was honored as the Best Young Musical Band in Vietnam in 1998.
Since then the budding star has turned his attention to composing and mixing.
“I take the passion for jazz from my father who played for me when I was a little boy. Jazz is just like opium.
It is very selective about the listeners but one can not leave it aside until death,” says Hung.