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Ros Serey Sothea





Ros Serey Sothea

Ros Sereysothea was the first and greatest Cambodian female singer that ever lived.  She had a powerful and electrifying voice with a haunting, bell-like quality that resonates in the ears and in the soul.  Sothea was a tiny woman, standing only five feet tall.  She had a voice like an amplifier and she rarely needed a microphone.  During her extraordinary career she performed thousands of wonderful songs in almost every imaginable genre.

Unfortunately, we know little of her life story except through the beautiful music that she left behind.  The little that we know tells us that her life was filled with heartache and that it ended in tragedy.  She was a victim, like so many others during those years, but her golden voice lives on.


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Ros Sereysothea’s birth name was Ros Sothea. She was born in 1948 to a country family in a small village in Battambong.  Like many poor Cambodians, Sothea had a childhood defined by hardship.  While accounts vary, it is generally agreed upon that Sothea's family could not afford to send her to school, and that she grew up not knowing how to read or write Khmer, Bu her voice is good for everyone to listen, and never forget.

As a teen, she and her family began to make a living by performing as a traditional peasant band.  Sothea and her brother Serey sang with the rest of her family played the music. They performed daily throughout the small villages of Battambong. They didn't earn a lot of money, and they occasionally struggled, the music did provide food for the family.

Slowly their reputation grew.  Sothea’s talent was obvious and her brother was also quite popular, and audiences were coming to see the family band.  Apparently the band had a name, (since lost to history) but the people came to know them as “Serey-Sothea”, naming the band after its two featured singers.

At the same time that Serey-Sothea was winning over people while touring through Battambong province, the Cambodian music industry based in Phnom Penh was experiencing rapid growth and producing Cambodia's first real music stars.  When word got out to the villages that musicians and singers were making real money in Phnom Penh, Serey and Sothea were encouraged to go to the big city to seek their fortunes.  They had nothing to lose, so Sothea and her brother made the move south to the capital city.



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