Dalena is a world class singer, diva, performer, pop star and song writer,
voice over artist, who sings and performs all over the world. Although
she is an American of European ancestry, she sings in many different
languages with English and Vietnamese being her main performanc languages.
Some other languages she sings in are Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese),
Japanese,French, Spanish and Hebrew. Many of her
songs are sung in more than one language.
Her Vietnamese is without accent as she has perfected the ability
to sing in this language with the intricate cadences and complex,
lilting, accented, and difficult tones.
Her songs, with their signature poetic style, have an art-song
quality to them. One thinks she is creating her own unique musica form,
and she is, making her one of the most creative and
outstanding singers, artists, and performers
in the world. She is also an outstanding and
credible performer in pop and rock with appearances on Asian MTV.
Dalena has been freatured in Time Magazine and on CNN. She was
the subject of a documentary film "Cover Girl"."If you play a certi
kind of music, you can dismantle the violence on this planet."
( Carlos Santana ). "Art and Music without borders"
Her enormous success and popularity as a performer of Vietnamese
songs and cabaret singer belie her origins.
She was born in Muncie, Indiana and raised in Orlando, Florida
and is of Scandinavian-Scotch-Irish ancestry. She launched her career
as a singer at age 3 in her Sunday school class singing "Jesus Love
Me". At age 13 she taught herself how to play the guitar and write songs.
At 16 she was already singing in several languages including
Chinese and was performing at several local Asian restaurants.
She was at a Chinese restaurants with her family where
Vietnamese music was being played and was attracted to its
haunting beauty which she brings out so well in her exquisite
She was given a tape of a Vietnamese song ( Qua Cau
Gio Bay ), by an Asian restaurateur, to see if she could learn it.
He was so impressed with her asked her to sing with a band
that he had. After this she became very sought-after via word
of mouth. A Canadian night club owner invited her to sing at
his club. He sent a video of her performance to the owner of a
Vietnamese night club ( The Ritz ) in Little Saigon. He was
so impressed invited her to sing at the Ritz.
In 1990 she made her first appearance in Little Saigon, Orange
County, California the center of the Vietnamese community in
North America. Since then she has been recording CDs, DVDs, and
Videos and performing all over the world wherever there is a
Vietnamese community. Her fame spread to Vietnam itself though
her pirated CDs. She performed in Vietnam for the first time in
July 2000. She has her own unique voice and range, with a beautiful
low register ( which she knows how to use ). She has mastered
the art of singing, recording and performing and has become a
world class performer, artist and diva in her own right whose
music would be at home in a cabaret, a pop concert or as it
would be in Carnegie Hall.
Có những khi buồn em ngồi đây em hát
Ru những nỗi đau ngủ yên
Mây trắng bay về tựa như mây là anh đó
Luôn ở bên em từng đêm
Và dù xa nhau như thế nhưng yêu thương vẫn còn đó
Vẫn còn vẹn nguyên trong trái tim
Và dù đêm kia có mấy em vẫn luôn vẫn chờ anh mãi thôi
Mà anh mãi chỉ anh mà thôi
Trong chương trình Ấn tượng Sài Gòn, Dalena đã hát ba
bài Mưa trên phố Huế, Trúc đào và song ca với ca sĩ Trọng
Phúc Đôi ngả chia ly. Rồi cô ngẫu hứng hát cùng MC Thanh
Bạch bài Qua cầu gió bay. Thời gian ở VN, Dalena đã đi
thăm Trung tâm nuôi dưỡng bảo trợ trẻ em Gò Vấp. Cô xúc
động nói: " Tôi đã bật khóc khi bước chân vào trung tâm,
tận mắt chứng kiến sự chăm sóc tận tình của các cô giáo
với những trẻ em bị khuyết tật sống mồ côi. Hình ảnh
đó thật xúc động. Ở Mỹ, cũng có những ngôi trường mở nuôi
dạy cô nhi, nhờ phúc lợi xã hội cao nên đời sống tinh thần của
các em được bù đắp phần nào, nhất là các thầy cô nuôi dạy
các em được hưởng lương rất cao. Còn ở đây, các cô giáo
với đồng lương ít ỏi nhưng vẫn đầy lòng nhân ái, quên mình
để giúp các em vượt qua nỗi bất hạnh, để có cha, có mẹ
trong đời. Tôi mong có dịp được trở lại VN để được giúp đỡ,
chia sẻ với các em mồ côi, khuyết tật, ít nhất cũng đem tiếng
hát làm vơi đi nỗi đau của các em" .
Dalena's Interview with the "The Dalena World Wide Fan club"
DWWFC: Who influenced you the most in your musical development?
Dalena: First and foremost, I would have to say that my mother
was my earliest influence.We always had music in the house in some form
or other. If a radio or a tape wasn't playing, then she was always singing
or humming to herself in whatever she was doing. (she still does).
I very clearly remember when I was little, standing next to her in church,
listening to her harmonize with everyone during the song service. I would
listen carefully to what she was singing and follow along with her so that
by the time I was in the third grade I could harmonize with my classmates
at school. I didn't really think much of it at the time because I loved to
sing so much that it came naturally, but now when I look back on it,
I can see that she had a profound influence on my life musically, and on so
many other important aspects and levels of my life as well.
DWWFC: Are you a classical music fan?
Dalena: Yes I am, as well as some of the New Age Music
out right now that kind of goes hand in hand as far as a genre is concerned
. There is a group I really love called Secret Garden. Their music is so
powerfully beautiful that it evokes a certain emotional resonance in me.
I turn it on when I'm inspired to write, (especially poetry) and find that
words just seem to flow from me. Now that's what I call great music!
(And great therapy too, I might add).
DWWFC: What is your most memorable performance?
Dalena: You know, that's really hard to say
because I have been singing for a while now, and I have a lot of really
great memories. From singing on stage to video productions, from
large venues to small venues. Sometimes an event will pop into my
head that I might not have thought about for a while and I'll smile
and think "Wow! That was a great time!". But there is one
story that you might have heard me tell, that is probably one of
the most unusual, hence memorable. I was performing in Germany
to an audience of about two or three thousand people all crammed
into this auditorium. They were a very lively audience, and really
there to enjoy the music.
I sang a Vietnamese traditional song that apparently really got
them going! It is a song that when translated, talks about a tradition
of trading clothes, hats, and rings with the one you love.
As each verse was sung, articles of clothing started sailing
thought the air and landing on stage. Pretty soon the rest of
the audience caught on, and clothes, shoes, and hats were
flying toward me quite rapidly. I can just imagine the look
of shock that must have registered on my face as I wondered
just what the next verse might bring. It was a riot though,
and I do hope that all of those people got their clothes
back!. I remember that it was chilly that time of year.
DWWFC: You have release a great gospel album or which you wrote the the lyrics. Do you plan to
release more gospel music albums?
Dalena: Oh yes! Christian music is my first love
and I do plan to release more. It is a question of when.
( When Lord when ? )
DWWFC: Who are your favorite singers and artists?
Dalena: Oh boy! How much time have you got?
There are so many genres that we are talking about here, and it
would be unfair for me to just mention the American ones when
I listen to everything! Well, I won't make this a lengthy answer
(like I have already done above) with all the whys and wherefores,
so I'll just run down a list for you of my absolutes. Chinese: Tam Wing Lan, Hui Quan Kit, Cheung Hat Yau,
Teng Le Quan, Chui siu pung, Danny Chan, Lau Tac Wa. Japanese: Le Couple, Keiko Matsui. French: Art Sullivan, Chistophe, Thierry Hazard, Celine Dion. Hebrew: Lamb. Latin: Luis Miguel, Dulce Pontes, Gypsy Kings. Vietnamese: Traditional: Houng Lan, Chi Tam, Manh Quinh,
Khanh Ly. Modern: Henry Chu, Khanh Ha, Tuan Ngoc, Thai Hien,
Lam Truong. Classical/Opera: Mario Lanza, Maria Frangoulis, Andrea Bocelli,
Sarah Brightman. Christian: Carman, John Elefante,
Mathew Ward, D.C. Talk, Bryan Duncan, Lamb, The Imperials, Harvest,
Sonic Flood, Code of Ethics, The Winans. Modern and Oldies:
Brian McNight, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera,
Alecia Keys,The Carpenters, Roy Orbison, Elvis, Sting, Boston,
the Beatles, Patsy Cline, Pink, Heart, Eagles, U2, Pink Floyed,
Moddy Blues. Others: Cheb Mami, Robby Robertson
DWWFC: How do you see your future musical direction?
Dalena: Do you want the long version or the short version?
You know, there are so many things that I still want to do, so many more
languages that are beautiful that I haven't heard or sung yet!
So many styles to explore. I've been singing practically all my life now in
other languages, and I've only recently even begun to do more songs in
English, and I enjoy doing those songs that are popular that I don't usually sing,
in favor of another language.
But American Pop is so much fun to sing and I enjoy it so well that I just
have to give myself over to some of these songs now and then in my performances.
I think/hope it offers more of a variety in my shows as well.
You know, a little something for everyone.
I find that, as far as a direction, I'm trying to explore as many things as I
possibly can (musically, that is). Right now I'm doing more raw (back to my
roots) performances with just me and my guitar, I'm collaborating more with
other musicians from other genres of music, doing more and more Christian
Music performances, and still writing and working on a book of poetry that I
hope to publish someday. All this, while still singing Vietnamese/Chinese music.
I will never stop doing that, I love it too much.
My greatest dread is that I will stagnate as a performer. That's why I have
to keep pushing myself to grow, to stretch myself as an artist and try new
things, explore and offer more of myself. I find that the more I dig the more I
really do have to give. Thank God for that.
DWWFC: I really enjoyed your version of Guantanamera in Spanish.
What other languages do you enjoy singing in? (Not including Pig Latin [joke])
Dalena: Pig Latin? How did you know? (smiles). But seriously, I love to sing in
Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, French, Italian, Hebrew, Korean and, of course, English.
DWWFC: What is your favorite musical instrument? Can you play it?
Dalena: I love the piano, pan flute, the harp, and the guitar (I do play the guitar).
Do spoons count?
DWWFC: You have a great understanding and use of the dynamics of
music, singing, and emotional interpretation, which gives your music its
power. Have you had any formal training in these areas?
Dalena: First of all, thanks so much, You are very kind.
Second of all, nope.
DWWFC: You are mainly known for your singing, but you are also a song
writer. Tell us something about your career in this area.
Dalena: Well, as you know, some of my songs were published on my
Christian album "He Loves Me", and I hope for a second album soon. I have
well over 200 hundred original songs that I've written through the years, both
Christian and Secular.
I have done quite a few entire song translations, for different record
labels, of songs in other languages that a company might need for a singer in
English. The company will give me a song or an entire compilation of songs
to translate, and I do my best to stay as true to the original meaning as much
as possible, while maintaining my own style of writing.
I love doing this, it is quite a challenge to fit in appropriate English
words on, let's say, a Chinese song. Chinese or Vietnamese words are mostly
just one syllable, and one or two words can convey a whole meaning. Not so with English, and so it goes.
DWWFC: What projects are you working on now? Do you plan any new releases?
in the near future?
Dalena: Well, I just got back from a hectic month-long tour overseas, so right
now I have several things I'm catching up and working on. Plans, plans, many plans.....
DWWFC: It seems that you are a natural for Disney and Sesame Street projects.
Have you considered any work in this area?
Dalena: Just what are you trying to tell me here? (Smiles).
O.K., I admit it, , I may have Foggy, Miss Piggy, Baby Bop and BJ, Lamb
Chop, Babe, and a host of other well respected-animals living inside me!
No seriously, I do love to do voices and accents and have done some
of this already. Hopefully, I'll have a chance to do more. Till then, I'll just have
to be satisfied with leaving strange messages on my friend's answering machines!
DWWFC: I understand that you write poetry. Tell us something about it.
Have you published any poetry?
Dalena: Well, as I've said before, I'm working on a book of poetry that I've
written over the past ten years. I think it's gotten epic by now. I've got
notebooks crammed full, bits of paper lying around the house that I've jotted
down a thought on, scribbles on backs of deposit slips, and loads of files on
my computer, and I'm still writing all the time. Help! I can't stop!
DWWFC: Do you do any other type of writing?
Dalena: Other than the occasional short story and just my grocery list.
DWWFC: Things are changing in mainstream commercial music.
Any thoughts on it?
Dalena:Yes a lot. I think it is amazing how much music has advanced just
in the last 5 to10 years. Technology and the geniuses of today have taken it to a
whole new level. We have such complex rhythms, styles, and a new breed of
vocalists to carry it off. And, I am enjoying today's music immensely, as well
the older stuff. But although I'm all for progress and growth, as I
mentioned before, it seems that it is harder and harder for artists today to have
I was just reading the other day about how several well known singers
have changed there styles recently to meet the demands of the mainstream
ideals, and they sold more albums than they ever did before! These are well-
established artists who have a faithful following in the respected genres that
they originally were largely responsible for creating. It is a sad thing when
artists who have something original to offer, and have been successful at it
for years, are now feeling the pressure to follow the mainstream in order to sell
albums. I don't say it is wrong to do that if that is their true desire, just sad
if it really isn't.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging anyone, I know I would be
living in fantasyland if I were to say that it's not about money, it's about
the creativity, it's about art. But, in my heart of hearts, that is my true desire.
(big breath) So, let me just end this little sermonet (hee hee) by saying
that my greatest desire as a performer is to be able to always be true to myself,
my music, and my audience, and still be able to make a living doing
it. That is my wish for every artist.