Transgender singer wins Vietnam's most coveted music award

By Tam Giao   April 26, 2017 | 12:31 am PT
Transgender singer wins Vietnam's most coveted music award
Singer Le Thien Hieu holds his Cong Hien Music award. Photo by VnExpress/Tam Giao
Le Thien Hieu wowed the nation in his very first TV appearance with his song 'My grandparents.'

When singer-songwriter Le Thien Hieu debuted his catchy song mocking modern love in November last year, it was his first ever performance on live TV.

The song, “Ong ba anh” (My grandparents), went on to become a big hit for the transgender artist. On Tuesday, it brought him "Song of the Year" at the Cong Hien (Devotion) Music Awards.

Vietnam doesn't have a recording academy to hand out annual awards, and Cong Hien, based on critics' choices, has been the most sought-after recognition among local artists and producers since 2004.

The local music industry is traditionally not known for diversity. But transgender artists like Hieu have managed to rise to the top, without drawing much attention to their identity or sexuality. In 2012, Huong Giang revealed that she is a transgender woman on Vietnam Idol. She was then voted into the top four that year.

On Tuesday night, Hieu received one of the biggest applauses. The 22-year-old artist said he was surprised by the award.

"My grandparents" has been praised by music fans and critics for its insprirational message.

In a Jason Mraz-esque style, Hieu sings about how people used to fall in love in the past and how modern love in the social media age is no longer as romantic.

"Album of the Year" went to Ha Tran for her critically-acclaimed experimental rock record "Ban Nguyen" (To the core). The pop star currently lives in the U.S.

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