Vietnam isn’t the largest country in the world. It’s not even the biggest or most populous in Southeast Asia, but it’s a mighty cultural force. Vietnamese food, arts, culture, and beautiful scenery are known around the world.
Music is a huge part of Vietnamese culture, and the country has produced amazing singers, known locally and internationally.
Whether you’re curious to learn more about artists who have captivated your attention or are new to Vietnamese music, this comprehensive rundown of the most famous Vietnamese singers will point you in the right direction!
1. Văn Cao
Writing the national anthem for your country may be the ultimate sign of fame for a musical artist. Văn Cao did just this.
Cao was born in what was then French Indochina before it became Vietnam. He lived through hugely transformative political eras in the country, and his music helped him get through tumultuous times.
Cao’s political and social activism led to a ban on his music under several government regimes. His popularity didn’t wane, however, and since the 1990s his music is recognized as nationally important.
Aside from his music career, he is also a prolific painter and poet. He has won several awards for his artistry, including posthumous ones.
2. Thái Thanh
Born Pham Thi Bang Thanh, Thái Thanh brought a western influence to her renditions of popular music. But she kept enough of her native Vietnamese influences present to make her a national star.
Thanh didn’t attempt to create “protest music”, but her music was censored during the Vietnam war. The singer moved to California to escape the scrutiny of her music, where she maintained her popularity and toured North America.
Her music was embraced by Vietnamese communities throughout the US and Canada, and her style influenced many singers at home in Vietnam.
She passed away in the United States and was mourned worldwide.
3. Phạm Duy
Vietnam saw much conflict throughout the 1800s and 1900s. Many artists, like Phạm Duy, have had their careers disrupted despite having immense talent.
Duy wrote over 1,000 famous songs throughout his 70-year career. This fact would be impressive on its own, let alone amid countless political trials and tribulations during his life.
Duy’s music was famous during his lifetime and, over the past 30 years, has brought fame to many who have covered his songs. His music was censored in much of Vietnam for a large portion of his life, but this was reversed in the late 1990s.
A younger generation of musicians flooded social media with accolades and praise at the time of Duy’s death, reminding the world that his music remains significant.
4. Trịnh Công Sơn
Trịnh Công Sơn, often mononymously known as Trịnh, is one of Vietnam’s most prolific and famous musical artists. He composed music, wrote poetry, and painted alongside his singing career.
Công Sơn was a pacifist, which led to criticism from the government during the Vietnam war. The late singer was eventually pardoned by the government that had rallied against him in the past, much like several other artists on this list.
Công Sơn returned to Vietnam and brought several of his old hits back to popularity. He has been honored with several posthumous tributes.
Công Sơn received his own Google doodle on the Google homepage, which is a stunning accolade that recognizes the singer’s importance.
5. An Thuyên
Nguyễn An Thuyên, or An Thuyên, is known for his unique voice and piano playing. Unlike many of his colleagues who were anti-war and anti-government throughout their lives, Thuyên pursued a military career.
He was active with the army in Vietnam, and no less than a Major General of the Vietnam People’s Army. He then combined his love of the arts with this career, eventually teaching at a military university.
For his service to his art and country, An Thuyên was honored with multiple awards before he retired from teaching. His compositions and versions of classic Vietnamese songs remain well-known.
6. Bạch Yến
Unlike some of the more traditional artists discussed here, Bạch Yến cultivated her success by heading to Western Europe.
As a longtime fan of Edith Piaf, France seemed like a natural place for the then-20-year-old artist to relocate. Yến had developed her voice by singing in nightclubs during her teen years, and this voice was a hit in Europe.
She traveled to the United States after an invitation to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. This trip turned into more than a decade of performing and residing across the Atlantic.
Yến returned to Paris, then eventually home to Vietnam, building her career despite the roundabout nature of her travels.
Related: Check out our post on popular French singers here.
7. Thanh Lan
Phạm Thái Thanh Lan was born in 1948 and eventually took on the shorter stage name Thanh Lan after initial success.
Lan remained in Vietnam throughout the Vietnam War, committed to the music scene in Saigon through the end of its US occupation. Thanh Lan eventually emigrated to the United States in the late 1970s, finding success in the country with her singing.
Lan is unique for her modern approach to songs in the French language from Vietnam’s colonial days.
Known as the “Queen Of Hip-Hop” in Vietnam, Suboi is a young star who’s risen to huge success.
Born Hàng Lâm Trang Anh before adopting her stage name, Suboi is the first female rapper to become mainstream in Vietnam.
Suboi’s influences include American rappers like Eminem, as well as European rappers and electronic musicians. She brought her music to the United States at festivals, like South By Southwest.
Her North American appeal brought her to Barack Obama’s attention during a presidential visit to Vietnam in 2016. Suboi’s performance for then-president Obama got attention worldwide and gained her a huge following. Obama used the occasion to promote the importance of hip-hop music in the US as an art form.
9. Ý Lan
Born Lê Thị Ý Lan, Ý Lan is a popular Vietnamese singer who got a late start in the entertainment industry.
Coming from a musical family, it wasn’t till her late 20s that she released a recording under her name. This recording took her to success in Vietnam and abroad on her own time.
Now a California resident, Lan maintains a busy presence, singing in North America, Asia, and abroad. The coveted singer has released recordings and video performances across several continents and maintains active to this day.
10. Như Quỳnh
A true ambassador of Vietnamese culture to the world abroad, Như Quỳnh has been responsible for introducing Vietnamese music to countless audiences in the west.
Quỳnh was born into a difficult financial situation, but her family did the best they could to keep her safe. Quỳnh’s high soprano voice and child-like mannerisms gave her music a jovial and sweet nature in her early career.
Her voice has since changed to a mezzo-soprano range and texture, which has suited her later introspective works. She’s currently less active as a performer and resides in the United States with her husband and children.
11. Den Vau
The singers on this list have all gone on to do unique things, but few have a Netflix title streaming their works. But Den Vau has one! Nguyen Duc Cuong, known to fans as Den Vau, has taken Vietnam by storm over the few years.
Long before his documentary film was produced, Vau had become one of Vietnam’s most popular rappers. Among his most popular works are “Hai Trieu Nam,” “Dua Nhau Di Tron,” and “Anh đếch cần gì nhiều ngoài em.”
Streaming service Spotify even reported he was their most popularly streamed artist before 2020.
12. Bích Phương
Bui Thi Bich Phuong, more popularly known as Bích Phương, is a talented young musician, who rose to fame over the past decade.
Phương gained popularity as a contestant on the show “Vietnam Idol”. Despite never placing in the first place, the TV show brought her to national attention. In 2011, she released her debut single “Có khi nào rời xa,” which immediately earned her the moniker “Saint of Sorrowful Music.”
Phương has won many notable awards since then. An even bigger testament to her success? She is one of the best-selling musical artists in Vietnam.
13. Lệ Quyên
Known for her stunning renditions of classic ballads, Hanoi-born singer Vũ Lệ Quyên has gained a serious reputation across Asia and abroad.
Quyên had a headstart in music quite early in life. She was born into a family of musicians and received training since she was old enough to take lessons. After some initial recognition by peers and family, her teacher got her into the coffee house circuits of Hanoi and Ho Chi Mihn City.
Since those early coffee house days, Quyên has gained international fame and is now one of the highest-earning musicians in Vietnamese history. She is active to this day, combining pop aesthetics with pure and classic vocal styles.
14. Tuấn Ngọc
Lữ Anh Tuấn, known by his stage name Tuấn Ngọc, has been a respected singer for a long time but didn’t fully rise to stardom until he’d been singing for several decades.
Ngọc left Vietnam for the United States in his 20s following the end of the Vietnam War. He built a career there because of his charismatic singing in English.
Gigs brought Ngọc to Hawaii where he spent nearly a decade working in hotels and clubs before moving back to Vietnam. From Vietnam, he influenced several generations of musicians and turned into a TV personality.
15. Ngọc Lan
Born and raised in Vietnam, Ngọc Lan and her family emigrated to the United States in 1980. Ngọc Lan was a singer beloved by Vietnamese across the globe.
Known for emotional ballads, her sweet and sultry voice could bring anyone to tears. The singer produced music in English, French, and her native Vietnamese. Her most famous works were traditional French ballads, such as “Mon Amie La Rose.”
As beautiful as she was talented, she toured across the world, with tickets selling out on different continents. Unfortunately, she developed multiple sclerosis later in her life, which contributed to her early passing at only 45.
Despite the relative brevity of her career, her music still stands the test of time, leaving her one of the most popular Vietnamese singers to this day.
Summing Up Our List of Famous Vietnamese Singers
These are Vietnamese singers you’ll want to check out. They all share a common home country but are equipped with a unique set of upbringings and artistic styles.
Whether you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, are born and raised there, or are trying to experience that culture abroad, put on an album from one of these talented singers! You won’t be disappointed.