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Vietnam musician Trinh Cong Son dies

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The Associated Press - April 2, 2001.

HANOI - Vietnam's most beloved singer-songwriter, Trinh Cong Son, who opposed the Vietnam War and sought postwar reconciliation, has died after a long battle with diabetes, an official said Monday. He was 62. Dubbed the "Bob Dylan of Vietnam" by American folk singer Joan Baez for his anti-war songs during the height of the Vietnam War, his music is still widely performed in Vietnam and in overseas Vietnamese communities. Son, who was persecuted by the South Vietnamese government in the late 60s and early 70s, wrote more than 600 songs over his career.

"His death is a great loss for Vietnamese music," said Ca Le Thuan, secretary general of Ho Chi Minh City's Musician Association. His pacifist songs about the futility of war were banned at the time, but bootleg copies made their way throughout South Vietnam and overseas. One of his most famous songs, "Lullaby" (Ngu Di Con), about the pain of a mother mourning her soldier son, became a hit in Japan in 1972. When the war ended, most of Son's family fled overseas, but he decided to stay. He was equally unpopular with the new Communist government for his songs about reconciliation and spent 10 years in forced labor "re-education camps" as a result. But by the late 80s, his popularity returned, and his songs are still performed by some of Vietnam's biggest pop artists, including singer Hong Nhung.

Born in the Central Highland province of Daklak in 1939, Son spent many years in the ancient imperial capital of Hue. Trained as a teacher, Son quit his job to begin composing love songs in the late 1950s. Son, who was admitted to Cho Ray hospital last week, slipped into a coma on Saturday and died Sunday, Thuan said. He is to be buried Wednesday in the province of Binh Duong.

The Associated Press - April 2, 2001.

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