Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Singer Yorn Young looks to build bridges with music

Singer Yorn Young looks to build bridges with music

Singer Yorn Young at a press conference on December 5 discussing his new album. Heng Chivoan
Singer Yorn Young at a press conference on December 5 discussing his new album. Heng Chivoan

Singer Yorn Young looks to build bridges with music

For Yorn Young, a songwriter and singer especially popular among Cambodian-Americans, music is not just about entertainment but also a means for reconciliation between countries.

Originally from Kampong Thom, Young began as a traditional Khmer musician before he was selected in 2013 for the OneBeat exchange program, a US State Department program that funds one-month residencies in the US for musicians around the world.

Since then, he has travelled the country, to states like Florida, New York and Minnesota, each of which is now the subject of one of the pop ballads on Young’s new album, called Lovin’ USA: Yorn Young’s Journey Across America.

“There are many huge buildings and skyscrapers, but there are many beautiful natural places such as mountains, lakes and forests,” Young told reporters last week at a press conference. “My favourite place is the sea in Florida, which should be very romantic for a couple’s visit.”

The song Beauty of Florida won him second place at the Hear My Song musical competition, organised by the Ministry of Information in 2014. Over the next four years, Young visited the US six more times, and wrote another 10 location-based songs, all sung in Khmer, like Good Bye, Chicago, The Memory of Minnesota and The Rose of Lowell, about the former mill town outside of Boston that is now home to one of the largest Cambodian diaspora communities in the world.

A few months ago, Young said, the US Embassy asked him to write a proposal for financial support to release the songs as an album, and to fund more of them in the future.

“The US Embassy continually looks at ways to highlight the ties between Cambodia and the United States, as well as support dynamic young Cambodians,” embassy spokesman David Josar said in an email last week.

Like many other musicians in Cambodia, Young is influenced by Sinn Sisamouth, the legendary musician of the 1960s and 1970s, who was known in part for writing songs about specific places, like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Paris. Young said his works are meant not only to honour his late musical icon, but also to improve Cambodia-US relations – which have been historically fraught and have again deteriorated in recent months.

“Music is a peacemaking instrument, because it makes people understand the cultures in which it is made,” Young said. “Writing Khmer songs about the US, I believe, will bring love to the two nations, and make their relationship great again.”

Lovin’ USA: Yorn Young’s Journey Across America will be official launched at the Cambodia-Korean Cooperation Center (CKCC) at 6pm on Friday, and 500 copies will be given away to attendees. Afterward, they will be available in some stores in Phnom Penh, and can also be ordered by telephone: 010 66 60 75 and 077 86 79 47, for $2 each.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports