Although there have been many foreign artists singing Vietnamese music, Dalena is probably one of the most successful, well-received and well known of all. Watch her on stage or on video, and listen to her on cassette tape or CD, you can not help but notice her angelic beauty plus her flawless Vietnamese accent. Although she is an American, when Dalena performs Vietnamese songs, it is quite hard to tell her origin.
Born in Muncie, Indiana, Dalena resides in Orlando, Florida since she was three years old. Dalena has five brothers and one sister. She is a Libra and celebrates her birthday on September 29.
Dalena has been exposed to music at an early age. Her first appearance in front of the public was at the age of three when she sang "Jesus loves me" for her mom's Sunday school class. In subsequent years, Dalena continued to sing at Church. She also started writing songs and taught herself playing the guitar without learning to read music. At the age of sixteen, she sang at a small restaurant named "The Garden Spot Cafe" for tips only. Eventually, she got a better job singing at "People's Place," a nice restaurant in downtown Orlando.
When asked about her favorite kind of music, Dalena stated that her first choice is Christian music followed by rhythm & blues. Her sources of inspiration come from her faith in God, the support & encouragement from her mom, and the beautiful letters & warm acceptance from her fans. She is also influenced by cultural music in which she sees beautiful expressions of joys, loves, and struggles in different lands. In specific, she mentioned the song "Bien Nho" which lyrics and melody captivated her heart and soul.
Dalena performs on stage in front of the Vietnamese audience across the States and all over the World. When asked about the most memorable performance, Dalena replied that it was at a concert in Germany where she sang the song "Qua cau gio bay". The audience was so impressed that they threw their clothes on stage. Before the song was over, Dalena ended up with a pile of shoes, shirts and hats around her.
When she is not busy with work, Dalena enjoys watching movies and reading. She loves to spend time with her family, and admits that this is a rare treat for her these days. She also takes great pleasure in gardening with her mom and having long talk over a cup of tea. Besides tea, she also loves chocolate.
Fans can look forward to her upcoming albums and appearances in several videos by Lang Van and Bon Phuong Productions. She is currently appearing on karaoke videos and laser disc produced by Sitek Productions.
Message from Dalena:
Ever since I began singing in the Vietnamese language, the two most frequent questions I get asked every where I go are , how can I sing Vietnamese so well and why do I sing Vietnamese.
Even though I have answered these questions many times in news papers, magazines, on radio and tv, I find that many of you still have not heard my answers and want to know. I understand your curiosity so for all of those of you who do not know the how and why of it, here goes....
First, let me commence with why I sing Vietnamese:
I have said that I began singing in chinese before I sang in Vietnamese and that's true. The reason being, chinese is the first asian lyrics I learned to sing and that was inspired by my discovery of Jacky Chan movies. Since music has always been my first love of all the arts, my interest in these movies naturally led to their music. Chinese made about the fourth or fifth language I had learned to sing at that time.
I had not become familiar with the Vietnamese people until after my discovery and experience with the chinese movies and music. In the beginning I learned to sing in Vietnamese because its beauty attracted me to it and the challenge of it (to see if I could). Like an artist that has only painted pictures of landscapes with beautiful rivers in them, until he comes upon the sea. He then not only sees the sea as a new beauty but also as a challenge to paint. And so he paints the sea for both reasons. First, because he is an artist and creating pictures is his way of expressing himself and communicating with the world around him. And so his desire to paint compels him to do so. Secondly, he strives to polish and perfect his craft. To continue to paint only a river when he might be able to paint the sea as well, is to leave his best yet undiscovered.
My first experience with the Vietnamese people was when my family and I went to a chinese restaurant to celebrate a birthday and were waited on by a Vietnamese waiter. The beautiful haunting music playing in the background immediately caught my attention. When I inquired about it he told us it was Vietnamese. And I fell in love with it. The waiter told us where to find a Vietnamese restaurant and that began my growing friendship with the Vietnamese people.
After a time, I sang a chinese song for the owner of the Vietnamese restaurant (whom was of chinese/Vietnamese heritage), and he gave me a tape of a Vietnamese song (Qua Cau Gio Bay) to see if I could learn it. And that's how it began.
At first, it was not my intention-that is to say-I did not set out to make a career of singing in Vietnamese. Its just that I was so well received by the Vietnamese people in Orlando Florida where my home is and many of them told me I should make tapes so other Vietnamese could hear me sing. And so to make a long story short, in time I was accepted into the Vietnamese recording business. I've had to learn a lot, work hard and make many sacrifices but I am here because the Vietnamese people wanted me. Since I am a perfectionist when it comes to my singing and my soul is permanently connected to music, I can give nothing less then my all to it.
Now as to how:
This seems to be the hardest part to explain to people but in plain and simple words it is a gift. Its hard for me to say that because it sounds like I am bragging but I honestly don't mean it that way. Its just that I don't know of any other word to describe it. If you are a gifted person yourself or know someone who is, then you know what I mean. It just comes natural to me. That does not mean I do not have to work at it, far from it. I have been working with a language that I do not speak and speaking words without knowing the meaning. For me to sing a song in your language (or any language that I do not know), I must first listen to a clear recording of it then practice to pronounce each word, then memorize them and their structure in order, as well as the tune. At the same time I must inquire about the over all meaning of what the song is saying so that I can put feeling in to the words as best as I can. But if dialects and music did not come natural to me , I could never do it at the rate that I have had to learn it since I started recording.
People wonder how I can put so much feeling into a song if I do not know what I am saying. I believe being a poet/song writer myself helps. I feel the songs that I write and the songs that I sing because that is the way I express myself the best.
I was never fortunate enough to be able to take music or voice. But I wrote my first song at the age of ten and taught myself to play guitar at the age of thirteen and I still can not read music.
And yes I was born in America from american parents but my roots are scandinavian/ scotch-irish. One of these days I would like to find the time to know more about my own home lands as well. I am a simple girl from a small town with a love for music and the arts that's all. But for any talent or gift that I might possess I give full credit to God, the giver of gifts.
May God bless you all