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Band finds Khmer hits strike a winning chord


Singer Charmeine Bulda and other members of 7 Plus. Photo by: Pha Lina

TRAVELLING bands from the Philippines work hard for their money, calling several countries home for a few months at a time while playing in international hotels across Asia.

But one band is putting in that extra effort, trying to learn songs from each of the nations they visit on their musical tours.

Now playing at the Phnom Penh Hotel until May, members of 7 Plus had worked hard to learn the lyrics of about 20 popular Cambodian songs, said bass player and vocalist Allan Paul Atlenza.

“We love it here and would love to stay a little bit longer when our contract runs out in May,” said Atlenza. “The people are so kind and friendly, we feel as if we are at home in the Philippines.” Since 7 Plus formed in 2009, the six-member band has performed in China, Japan, south Korea and Vietnam.

Their popular Khmer hits such as Tov Yok Bdey Barang (Marry a Frenchman) or Luy Luy Luy (Money Money Money) find favour with Cambodian audiences at the hotel, who can hardly believe how perfectly singer Ronaldo Ramiro pronounces the lyrics. “We’re trying to learn more Cambodian songs because we love to make the local guests happy,” said Ramiro, who also plays keyboards.

“Many songs are about love and separation. My favourite song is Champa Battambang, and my favourite singer is Sunn Sisamouth, but my pronunciation is not as good.”

Though his pronunciation is perfect as he sings the popular song Bong Srolanh Srey Touch (I Love a Tiny Girl).

Lead singer Charmeine Bulda says she finds Khmer a little harder to learn than other languages, although she can sing in English, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese. However, she’s happy to incorporate traditional apsara movements into the group’s dance routines.

She and fellow singer and dancer Mariegold Razo are the only two women in the band. Felix Dia plays drums while the sixth member is guitarist Ace Aguizar.

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