Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Singer Yorn Young looks to build bridges with music



Singer Yorn Young looks to build bridges with music

Singer Yorn Young at a press conference on December 5 discussing his new album. Heng Chivoan
Singer Yorn Young at a press conference on December 5 discussing his new album. Heng Chivoan

Singer Yorn Young looks to build bridges with music

For Yorn Young, a songwriter and singer especially popular among Cambodian-Americans, music is not just about entertainment but also a means for reconciliation between countries.

Originally from Kampong Thom, Young began as a traditional Khmer musician before he was selected in 2013 for the OneBeat exchange program, a US State Department program that funds one-month residencies in the US for musicians around the world.

Since then, he has travelled the country, to states like Florida, New York and Minnesota, each of which is now the subject of one of the pop ballads on Young’s new album, called Lovin’ USA: Yorn Young’s Journey Across America.

“There are many huge buildings and skyscrapers, but there are many beautiful natural places such as mountains, lakes and forests,” Young told reporters last week at a press conference. “My favourite place is the sea in Florida, which should be very romantic for a couple’s visit.”

The song Beauty of Florida won him second place at the Hear My Song musical competition, organised by the Ministry of Information in 2014. Over the next four years, Young visited the US six more times, and wrote another 10 location-based songs, all sung in Khmer, like Good Bye, Chicago, The Memory of Minnesota and The Rose of Lowell, about the former mill town outside of Boston that is now home to one of the largest Cambodian diaspora communities in the world.

A few months ago, Young said, the US Embassy asked him to write a proposal for financial support to release the songs as an album, and to fund more of them in the future.

“The US Embassy continually looks at ways to highlight the ties between Cambodia and the United States, as well as support dynamic young Cambodians,” embassy spokesman David Josar said in an email last week.

Like many other musicians in Cambodia, Young is influenced by Sinn Sisamouth, the legendary musician of the 1960s and 1970s, who was known in part for writing songs about specific places, like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Paris. Young said his works are meant not only to honour his late musical icon, but also to improve Cambodia-US relations – which have been historically fraught and have again deteriorated in recent months.

“Music is a peacemaking instrument, because it makes people understand the cultures in which it is made,” Young said. “Writing Khmer songs about the US, I believe, will bring love to the two nations, and make their relationship great again.”

Lovin’ USA: Yorn Young’s Journey Across America will be official launched at the Cambodia-Korean Cooperation Center (CKCC) at 6pm on Friday, and 500 copies will be given away to attendees. Afterward, they will be available in some stores in Phnom Penh, and can also be ordered by telephone: 010 66 60 75 and 077 86 79 47, for $2 each.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42