Khanh Ly first public appearance occurred in 1959, in a radio talent search for children sponsored by Saigon Radio. The show was broadcasted throughout Southern Vietnam. Khanh Ly was only 14 years old at the time. During this contest she won second place.
In 1962, at the age of 17, Khanh Ly began her professional music career. She performed at many clubs in the Southern Vietnamese Highlands. Most notable of which was Da Lat, South Vietnam's premiere locale for lovers and vacationers.
In 1964, Composer Trinh Cong Son requested for Khanh Ly to return to Saigon and perform. At the time, Khanh Ly refused this offer from this young promising composer.
In 1967, by chance but according to many it was serendipity, they met again, thus began a famous and fruitful collaborative effort between these two stellar figures in the Vietnamese music industry. Khanh Ly began performing Trinh Cong Son Music. According to Khanh Ly's recollection, it all began at Quan Van club in Saigon. After a very short period of time, Khanh Ly and Trinh Cong Son gained phenomenal fame across the entire country.
Continuing in their collaboration, Khanh Ly and Trinh Cong Son started to perform at numerous colleges and universities. These performances led to more daring ventures. Khanh Ly became the first Vietnamese woman to headline her own shows. These shows usually lasted the minimum of four hours and within those hours she would perform 40-45 songs entertaining the people of Vietnam.
The Vietnam war escalated in 1970 to heights unseen previously. During this period, Trinh Cong Son composed a group of songs dedicated to the hope for peace and tranquillity. At the same time, Khanh Ly began to expand and share her talents with the troops fighting for peace and freedom. She performed in various front lines for the South Vietnamese troops.
In addition, Khanh Ly contributed her talents to various religions in order to raise funds for numerous causes. From 1967-1975, Khanh Ly has performed for students, soldiers, and religious orders without ever charging any fee. This fact shows the humanitarian side of Khanh Ly that many fans never get to see.
In 1969 the Vietnamese Government sponsored Khanh Ly to travel and perform in Europe. She became the first Vietnamese entertainer to perform on foreign lands. Her performances were primarily for Vietnamese exchange students and the Vietnamese communities in Europe. In 1970, Khanh Ly took her talents to the United States and Canada.
In 1970, Nippon Columbia invited Khanh Ly to Japan in order to attend the Osaka Fair and also to record the songs Diem Xua and Ca Dao Me in both Japanese and Vietnamese. Trinh Cong Son specifically requested Nippon Columbia to choose Khanh Ly as the performer for this recording.
In 1972, Khanh Ly ventured out and opened her own night club named Phong Tra Khanh Ly. This club was located at 1214 Tu Do, Saigon, Vietnam. In 1975, Khanh Ly and her family departed Vietnam by boat, she presently resides in Cerritos, California USA.
In 1979, Columbia Nippon once again contacted Khanh Ly. She soon traveled to Japan and recorded an album consisting of music by Trinh Cong Son. In 1982, Bunka Honso Radio invited Khanh Ly to attend the Asia Music Festival that featured artists from numerous Asian countries.
In 1985 Khanh Ly formed Khanh Ly Productions managed by her spouse Mr Nguyen Hoang Doan. Khanh Ly Productions currently has:
- 30 Music Titles
- 4 Music Video Features
- A Motion Picture - The Life of Khanh Ly (currently in production)
In 1987, Khanh Ly returned to Japan to record the soundtrack for the Motion picture The Boat People. In1988, Khanh Ly was invited to the Vatican for a special ceremony to honor 117 Vietnamese priests who died for the cause of Catholicism. During this event, Khanh Ly was personally introduced to Pope John Paul II.
In 1992, Khanh Ly was invited to the World Youth Festival held in Denver, Colorado USA. She performed there for the masses. This was her second meeting with Pope John Paul II. This was a great honor for Khanh Ly since she is a very religious person.
Khanh Ly is truly the people's star. Throughout her illustrious career, she has been constantly on the move, recording music, and performing for people all over the world. Her humanitarian effort has not gone unnoticed by her peers as many generations of young performers have looked to Khanh Ly as an example of a fine Vietnamese woman and a bright shining star in the Vietnamese music industry.