A comprehensive playlist of the music of Los Angeles would have to include film scores, cool jazz, surf bands, frat rock, folk-rock, Sunset Strip psychedelia, Chicano soul, country rock, hardcore punk, Paisley Underground, hair metal, gangsta rap, and G-funk. Lists of performers and bands associated with Los Angeles invariably include plenty rock groups, soul singers, and rappers. Inevitably, most are either black or white.
Los Angeles is the world’s great Pan-Asian metropolis. Metro Los Angeles is home to the largest populations of Indonesians and Mongolians in the US. Metro Los Angeles is home to the world’s largest communities of Cambodians, Filipinos, Koreans, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese outside of their respective homelands. Asians are Los Angeles’s largest and fastest-growing racial minority. Naturally, then, Los Angeles has produced and attracted a number of Asian American musicians from diverse backgrounds composing and performing music in an enormous variety of styles. Metro Los Angeles, too, was the epicenter of vibrant and almost exclusively Asian-American oriented scenes including the sansei dance band scene, Pinoy rock, Vietnamese New Wave, and others — not that you’d know that even if you read every single music related listicle or article joylessly generated by the city’s content creators. This being Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, however, I decided to do something about that.
I started by thinking about the Sooyoung Park’s Ear of the Dragon — but for some of the nineteen Asian-American (and Canadian) bands on that seminal compilation, their entire recorded output seems to be limited to their inclusion on the album and in most cases, they’re not from California. So this list is primarily drawn from my own admittedly knowledge with the addition of a few unfamiliar K-pop stars I found out about on Wikipedia.
I know there are loads more Asian Angeleno musicians out there, because I’ve seen some of them performing at Jologs Fezt, Laklak Fest, the Lotus Festival, night markets, Songkran, and Tết; at Thai restaurants, on Paris By Night, on videos shot at La Lune, the annual Asian American Music Festival and elsewhere. I know, too, that this can never be a comprehensive directory (I don’t even think that I’d want it to be — apologies to my fifteen-year-old neighbor who briefly took guitar lessons and learned that awful song by fun.) but of course, additions and corrections are encouraged.
Acid Rain played Jologz Fest 2016.
Alan Nakagawa is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily with sound. He is the artist-in-residence at the Pasadena Buddhist Temple.
Alisa Xayalith is singer/songwriter/musician from New Zealand. Her parents were refugees from Laos. Her mother died when she was seven years old. Xayalith was in the Auckland-based band, The Naked and Famous, where she was the guitarist, keyboard player, and lead vocalist. In 2012, the band relocated to Los Angeles. In December 2021, Xayalith released “High Fidelity,” her first solo song.
ANH DO (of THE TYDE)
Anh Do (also known as Ann Do) formerly played keyboards in The Tyde, a band led by her then-husband, Darren Rademaker. The Westminster native and UCLA graduate joined the band in 1998 and remained until 2010. In 2004 and ’05, she also performed and toured with Gwen Stefani. She now co-owns IAMSOUND.
La Anh Tu (known professionally as “Anh Tu”) was a Vietnamese singer. Born in Da Lat in 1950, he was the third eldest child of singer Lu Lien and co-founder of Northern Vietnamese folk act, AVT. Anh Tu was raised in Saigon alongside his siblings — Bich Chieu, Khan Ha, Lou Bich, Tuan Ngoc, and Thuy Anh — all of whom are also singers.
Anh Tu, Khan Ha, and Thuy Anh, formed the vocal group, The Blue Jets, later known as Thuy Ha Tu. With the addition of Tung Giang and Quoc Thang, the group became The Uptight, which left Vietnam before the the Fall of Saigon and entertained overseas Vietnamese audiences. Members of the group operated a club, Chez Moi, in Alhambra that closed in the 1990s. Anh Tu died in 2003 at the age of 53.
apl.de.ap is the stage name of Allan Pineda Lindo, born in Angeles City, Pampanga, in 1974. He came to the US when he was fourteen and attended John Marshall High School in Los Feliz and apl.de.ap still gets his nails done nearby at Nails Station. He began rapping in 1988 in ATBAN Klann (ATBAN is an acronym for A Tribe Beyond a Nation) which evolved into the Black Eyed Peas, who themselves evolved from a backpack rap group into a mainstream pop act.
Taiwanese-American vocalist Amber Josephine Liu was born 18 September 1992 in Los Angeles and went to high school in Woodland Hills. Known professionally as Amber, she’s currently a member of Korean pop group f(x). She released her solo debut, the EP Beautiful, in 2015.
Anatalia Villaranda is a young vocalist who competed on the television series, The Voice and auditioned for American Idol. She’s from the Riverside Country town of Temecula.
Afghan musician, actress, and director Ariana Delawari was bron in 1980. She graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She recorded her album, Lion of Panjshir, in Kabul and Los Angeles with bandmates Max Guirand and Paloma Udovic in collaboration with Aghan dilruba, rabab, and tabla players. Delawari is also a member of the LA Ladies Choir.
ASHLEY NGUYEN DEWITT
Ashley Nguyen Dewitt is a mixed race singer singer, animation voice-over director, producer, and actress. Her recording of Alana Da Fonseca‘s “Rise Again” was featured in an advertisement from the King Arthur Baking Company. A Los Angeles native, she graduated from California State University, Northridge with a with a degree in theatre arts.
Baer is the stage name of Sabrina Chang. She’s a Taiwan-born singer/rapper who was raised primarily in Canada. She relocated to Los Angeles after graduating from the Berklee College of Music. Her first release was a 2016 EP titled Breathe the Same. Her first full-length, Made in Taiwan, was released in 2020.
Ming & Ping are an electronic pop duo, comprised of one person — Bao Vo. Vo was born in Da Lat in 1982. He began Ming & Ping in San Francisco in 2002 before moving to Downtown Los Angeles. His debut, MingPing.com, was released in 2004. In 2017, he released a five-song, BAO, under the name BAO. In 2020, he released his debut “solo” album, Perpetual Heartbreak.
Bang Chau is a singer-actress who had her first hit at the age of sixteen with “Qua Con Me,” written for her by composer Trinh Lam Ngan. She was also sixteen when she made her debut as. film actress, in Tran Thi Diem Chau. Chau was born in Can Tho, South Vietnam in 1955. She recorded for various record labels and appeared in several films before the Fall of Saigon. Chau remained in Vietnam until 1978, when she moved to the US and first settled in Utah before relocating to Metro Los Angeles.
Chau continued recording in the 1980s and ’90s and appeared at Vietnamese nightclubs like Caravelle and Maxim’s. Her last film role was in 1995’s Thời Hùng Vương 18. Her last album, Em, was released in 1996. In the late 1990s, she co-hosted Saigon Cali Radio Hai Ngoai on 106.3 FM with Quoc Thai, singer and former member of the popular Vietnamese group, May Bon Phuong.
Barkada was a Filipino American dance band active in Los Angeles in the 1970s.
Beaudry Express was a dance band comprised of Bob Chogyoji (guitar), Dane Matsumura (bass), Grayson Izumi (organ), Marty Tatsumi (lead guitar), Norman Quon (rhythm guitar), Peter Fong (drums), and Thomas Yee (vocals). They formed around 1970. At the time, Yee owned Paul’s Kitchen, a Chinese restaurant in the Fashion District that opened in 1946 — making it one of the city’s oldest. They often played at Gazzarri’s, on the Sunset Strip.
Electro-pop singer-songrwriter Becktoria began performing in childhood in London and began studying classical music at the age of eleven. She received distinctions and merits from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music, and Trinity Guildhall. After moving to Los Angeles, she released her debut EP, Lovers.
Bei Bei He (荷蓓蓓) was born in Chengdu and began playing guzheng (古箏) when she was seven. She studied guzheng performance in Central University of Nationalities in Beijing and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. After relocating to Los Angeles she continued to study at Azusa Pacific University, Citrus College,and Fullerton College. She released her debut, Quiet your mind and listen, in 2006. In 2008, she played guzheng on Richard Horowitz’s album, Heart of China. Bei Bei owns Hacienda Music in Hacienda Heights. In collaboration with muscian/producer Shawn Lee, she’s also released Into the wind (2010) and Year of the Funky (2017).
Belinda Cai graduated from Ohio State University and subsequently moved to Cincinnati. After moving to Los Angeles, she earned a degree in journalism from USC. She began making dream pop as Softer. With Adam Stafford, she’s one half of the duo, Seafoam.
BENJO BLUES BAND
Benjo Blues Band was a Japanese American dance band active as early as 1970 and as late as 1971.
Beyond Beowulf is Tolitz Rosel (vocals), Don Morales (bass), Jade Figueroa (guitars), and Tim De Ramos (drums). Rosel describes their sound as “a combination of Southern rock and hard-hitting Pinoy rock.” The band formed as Beowulf in 1993, when the members were all students at De La Salle University – Dasmariñas in the Philippines. The original line-up disbanded in 1997 when the members went their separate ways upon graduation. Rosel formed a new line-up around 2007, in Los Angeles. Since that line-up dissolved in 2012, Rosel has performed and recorded intermittently as Beyond Beowulf.
Big Phony is the stage name of singer-songwriter Bobby Choi.
Billy Shane was a Vietnamese singer best known for his interpretations of American and French pop songs. He was born “Billy Yamasaki” in Saigon in 1946 where he was registered as a foreign, Japanese national. Very few concrete details are known about his life although he often claimed to be the illegitimate son of Emperor Bảo Đại and, presumably, a Japanese mother. He was adopted by a German and his name was changed to Billy Lee Klassen. In 1966, he formed The Spotlights, a band that performed around Saigon. He later fronted The Vibrations and The Strawberry Four. It was as a member of the latter that he began to acquire a significant following for his interpretations of Western pop songs.
Shane left South Vietnam in 1972 for Hawaii, where he lived until the early 1980s. Afterward he moved to Metro Los Angeles and appeared on many recordings by the then-newly established Asia Entertainment label. He also frequently performed at Club Rex in Santa Ana and Diamond Nightclub in Fullerton. Shane died unexpectedly in 1994 from cardiac arrest at the age of 48.
Cameron Lew is a songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who lives in Huntington Beach. He went to Chapman University to study film but turned his creative attention to music. As one-third of the Yorktown Lads (with Addison Love and Michael Simmons), he released Songs About Girls And Other Disasters in 2015. Going solo, he released Welp the same year. He then began recording “aggressive elevator soul” music as Ginger Root. Ginger Root’s influences include city pop, soul music, and the band, Japanese Breakfast. Ginger Root has released Spotlight People (2017), Mahjong Room (2018), Best of Toaster Music (2018), Rikki (2020), The Best Of Toaster Music I, II, & III (2020), and an EP, City Slicker (2021).
Carol Kim is a singer of Malaysian and Vietnamese descent known as Vietnam’s “Queen of Soul.” She was born “Hoang Kim Hoa” in Chau Doc, South Vietnam in 1948. She was the fourth of eleven children born to to a Malaysian mother and Vietnamese father. When she was nineteen she was discovered by musician Le Van Thien singing “Moon River” at Saigon’s Tour d’Ivoire nightclub. Shortly after, she began performing for US troops as “Carol.” She adopted the stage name, Carol Kim, in 1969, when she began an exclusive arrangement at Khanh Ly’s Tu Do cabaret. In the early 1970s, she recorded for several Vietnamese labels and began performing at venues like Queen Bee.
After the Fall of Saigon, Kim moved to the Metro Los Angeles where she was a regular performer at Anaheim’s Ritz Nightclub and throughout North America, Australia, and Europe for overseas Vietnamese. In 1987, she founded Carol Kim Productions and released her first American album, Chuyen Tinh Khong Doan Ket. In the 2000s, she began performing, once again, in Vietnam.
CAROLINA LEE LI
Carolina Lee Li is a dancer and singer who’s originally from Lima. Her parents both emigrated to Peru from Guangzhou. As a child, she took voice, guitar, piano, and dance lessons. They divorced when she was five and her mother emigrated to the US. At her parents’ insistence, she initially studied nutrition and dietetics at Universidad Cientifica del Sur. Her heart wasn’t in it, though, and after her third year, she emigrated to the US to pursue a career in music and dance. She moved to Los Angeles in 2017. She has released three singles, with accompanying music videos, “Better Off Alone,” “Decoding Signs,” and “Don’t Fight It.”
Carry On was a dance band based in Los Angeles active in the 1970s and early ’80s. Six of the initial members formed the group after the 1971 dissolution of The Prophets. The early ’80s line-up included Dan David (drums), David Honjio (trumpet), Ken Ito (keyboards), Leon Ray (vocals), and Suzanne Ray (vocals). Carry On carried on at least until 2012.
CAVE UNDER WATER
Cave Under Water is a Pinoy rock band.
Charmaine Clamor is a Filipina jazz singer who interprets traditional Filipino songs. Clamor was born in Subic–Zambales, Philippines. She moved to the US when she was sixteen. She released her debut, Searching for the Soul, in 2005.
Chhim Sreyneang (ឈីម ស្រីនាង) is a Khmer singer who often performs at La Lune Thmey in Cambodia Town. She married Dragon Son in 2000.
Chhom Chorvin is a Khmer singer born in Cambodia. She was formerly a frequent performer at New Paradise Restaraunt, a now-closed restaurant in Cambodia Town. She is the sister of Chhom Nimol, solo performer and singer with Dengue Fever.
Chhom Nimol was born in Cambodia and as a child lived in a refugee camp in Thailand. She won Cambodia’s Aspara Awards in 1997 and moved to the US in 2001. That year she joined Dengue Fever, a band who make pre-Khmer Rouge-style rock music after a group of non-Khmer musicians (including Dr. San) approached her after a solo performance in Cambodia Town. Her sister is singer Chhom Chorvin.
THE CHOSEN FEW
The Chosen Few was a Sansei dance band that included in its ranks Jerry Kamei (keyboards), later of Free Flight. Their first gig was at Rodger Young Auditorium, a venue central to the Sansei dance band Golden Age of the 1970s.
Chris Kando Iijima was a folksinger and activist. In the 1960s, he co-founded Asian Americans for Action. In 1972, he performed on the Mike Douglas Show with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Along with fellow Japanese Angeleno, Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto, and Chinese New Yorker, “Charlie” Chin, he co-founded the Asian American band, Yellow Peril, which released, A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle by Asians in America, in 1973.
Iijima was born in 1948 to Takeru and Kazuko Iijima in New York City. Iijima earned a B.A. from Columbia University in 1969. He was a teacher at the Manhattan Country School from 1974-84. He later moved to Los Angeles. He died for a rare blood disease in 2005, at the age of 57, in Honolulu. In 2009, a documentary was released about Iijima called A Song for Ourselves.
CHRISTOPHER WONG WON
Christopher Wong Won, better known as Fresh Kid Ice, was a rapper who gained fame and notoriety with 2 Live Crew. Wong Won was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 1964. When he was twelve, he relocated with his family to Brooklyn. In his twenties, whilst stationed at March Air Force Base near Los Angeles, he formed 2 Live Crew as an electrofunk outfit with fellow airmen and David Hobbs (Mr. Mixx) and Yuri Vielot (Amazing Vee).Finding Florida audiences receptive to their music, they joined forces with Miami-based promoter Luther Campbell (Luke Skyywalker) and Wong Won relocated their with Hobbs. Wong Won wrote and performed the group’s next single, “Trow The D,” which was followed by The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are, on which the group was joined by new members, Mark D. Ross (Brother Marquis) and Luke Skyywalker filling the role of hype man and producer.
Albums and line-up changes followed with Wong Won the only consistent member rarely acknowledged for his position as the first notable rapper of Asian heritage. In 1992, he released his solo debut, The Chinaman. In 2006, he and Ross reformed 2 Live Crew. In 2015, he published an autobiography, My Rise 2 Fame. In 2016, he again went solo, releasing his final album, Breaking Glass Ceilings Volume 1 in 2017. He died later that year of cirrhosis of the liver.
Ciamara Morales is a singer and former beauty queen. In 2016, she was named Miss Filipinotown USA. She’s also the owner of Mabuhay Soap and co-owner of Kapistahan Grill. She began singing publicly in the Philippines when she was eight years old. Her song “Muling Binuhay Mo” was a pop hit. She’s currently based in Culver City.
CONG THANH & LYN
Công Thành & Lyn were a husband-and-wife duo from Vietnam and Australia. They emigrated to Orange County. They released an eponymous album on 1990.
Connie Han is a classical and jazz pianist born and raised in Los Angeles. She attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. She often performs locally with her own trio, the Connie Han Trio.
Crossroads were apparently a dance band in the 1970s. They included in their ranks, Craig Lee.
Dane Matsumura is a bassist based in Los Angeles. He was a member of Hiroshima and played on their first two albums before leaving them in 1982. He next formed the trio, The Music Company. In 2012, he played bass on Minyo Station‘s Cultural Twist. He released a solo album, Dane Matsumura and Friends, in 2013.
DARANY & DARIYA
Darany & Dariya are Darany Phang and Dariya Phang. The two are originally from Phnom Penh but later relocated to Long Beach. As a duo, they’ve frequently performed publicly at Cambodian festivals and restaurants since at least 2006.
DAVE & THE VAN-TAYS
Dave & the Van-Tays were a surf band the were originally composed of Barry Weinstein (guitar), Ralph Oswald (guitar, saxophone, vocals), Saburo Sumi (bass), Steve Garrett (drums), and led by Tetsuo “Dave” Ichikawa (guitar, vocals). Dave, also known as “Tots,” had been born in Japan in 1947. Garrett was replaced by Robbie Greenspan. Dave & the Van-Tays played live Dick Dale, Cannibal & The Headhunters, and Gary Lewis & The Playboys. The band enjoyed Hollywood connections thanks to Weinstein and also performed at the Daisy Club for Frank Sinatra‘s 50th birthday in December 1965, after which Garrett and Weinstein left the band to go to college. Oswald continued to pursue a music career in bands The Denny Castaneres Experience, Halfneslon, Christopher Milk, and Kirk. Dave became a US citizen in 1971. He died on 22 March 2007.
Dave Iwataki is a keyboardist based in Los Angeles. He performed with Hiroshima from 1974 until the early 1980s. Around that time he collaborated with artists including Barry Manilow, Billy Davis, The Fifth Dimension, Kenny G, Marilyn McCoo, Olivia Newton-John, Paul Anka, Peabo Bryson, The Pointer Sisters, and Tom Scott. Since 2000, he has scored numerous films.
Deb Never is a Korean Angelena singer-songwriter whose influences include emo, grunge, and hip-hop. Her father was a Presbyterian pastor and her mothera nurse. She lived in Spokane with her mother whilst her father did missionary work overseas. She later moved to Los Angeles.
DemiVoix are a hard rock band comprised of Keith (vocals and keyboards), Karinne (guitar), Bon (drums), and Ronnel (bass guitar).
Desoto is a five-piece rock band who’ve performed at Bamboo Bistro, a venue associated with the Lokal Pinoy scene as well as LakLak Fest.
In 1977, Dianne Chai formed The Alley Cats in San Pedro with then-husband, guitarist/vocalist Randy Stodola and drummer John McCarthy. Chai sang and played bass and sang. The trio released two singles, 1978’s “Nothing Means Nothing Anymore” b/w ”Gimme A Little Pain” and 1980’s “Too Much Junk” b/w “Night Along The Blvd.” and two full-length albums, Nightmare City (1981) and Escape From The Planet Earth (1983). In 1985, the couple returned with a different drummer, Terry Cooley, as The Zarkons. They were later joined by Freda Rente’ on vocals.They released two more albums, Riders In The Long Black Parade (1985) and Between the Idea & the Reality…Falls the Shadow (1988). Chai and Stodola divorced and Chai eventually married Marshall Berle, who’d been the Alley Cats’ manager. She later moved to Florida where she works as a travel agent. In recent years, Stodola has performed as the Alley Cats with Apryl Cady and Matt Laskey.
DJ MINI BEAR
DJ Mini Bear is the nom de disque of pop musician and Los Angeles native, Lauren Kop. She majored in music and studied classical voice at San Diego State University. In 2016, she released the EP, Mind Control.
DJ Rhettmatic is a producer, DJ, and member of turntablist act, The Beat Junkies. He was born Nazareth Nizra in Huntington Park in 1969 to Filipino immigrants. His family relocated to Cerritos in 1971. Nizra began his hip-hop career in 1983 with Cerritos’s Double Platinum. In 1994, he co-founded The Visionaries. In 1995, he and Key Kool released Kozmonautz. He hosts Beat Junkie Radio on Dash Radio.
DOCTORS & ENGINEERS
Sri Panchalam is, by day, an attorney with Disability Rights California. She formed “speakeasy folk” group Smithfield Bargain with two brothers, Daniel and David ydau, in 2009. In 2015, Panchalam formed “Desi garage punk” band, Doctors & Engineers. The band’s members are all Asian-Americans line-up includes Jayson Joseph (guitar), Azeem Khan (keyboards and synthesizers), Sumi Dave (drums), and Scott Okamoto (bass). On their debut EP, *From a Good Family, Panchalam alternates between English, Gujarati, Hindi, and Tamil vocals.
Don Hồ (not to be confused with Hawaiian singer, Don Ho) is a singer known for his frequent appearances on Paris By Night. Hồ was born Hồ Mạnh Dũng in 1962 in Saigon. He came with his family to the US in 1980 and attended Santa Ana Valley High School. He nearly pursued a career in the visual arts after receiving a scholarship from an art school in New York but instead turned to music. He had a long relationship with Thúy Nga‘s Paris By Night and later, Asia Productions. He currently lives in Santa Monica.
Drippy J is the nom de rap of queer Dallas-raised rapper, Jackie Faye. She began making music in high school but graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Business and currently works as a full-time strategy consultant. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of a career as a professional rapper.
Dumbfoundead is the stage name of rapper Jonathan Park, born in Buenos Aires in 1986 and raised in Koreatown from the age of three. He attended John Marshall High School and released his first solo album, DFD, in 2011.
Duy Quang was a Vietnamese singer-songwriter. He was the oldest son of songwriter Pham Duy and singer Thai Hang. Quang was born in 1950 in the Thanh Hoa province of North Vietnam. When he was a year old, his family moved to Saigon. He began playing various instruments and singing when he was ten. He began his professional career when he was 17. He formed The Dreamers with his brother, Duy Cuong, Julie Quang, and Julie’s sister, Veny. The Dreamers primarily covered American and British pop songs.
In 1970, Duy and Julie Quang had a daughter, Ly Lan. Afterward, Duy wrote his first hit single, “Bai Tho Vu Quy.” Julie moved to Paris in 1974. Duy followed in 1978. In 1979, the whole family relocated to Metro Los Angeles. The couple divorced in 1982. Duy Quang remarried in 1984, this time to My Ha. Two more daughters were born and the couple opened a nightclub in Little Saigon called Dem Dong Phuong. The couple divorced in 2002. After a series of performances in Vietnam, Duy Quang and his family returned to Vietnam in 2005. Duy Quang remarried in 2007, this time to a singer, Yen Xuan. They divorced in 2009. Quang returned to the US in 2012 to seek treatment for liver cancer but died in 2012.
Dynasty Band is a Los Angeles-based dance band comprised, over the years, of various members, including at various points Alex Schwartz, Dan Salas, Gary Yano, Gino JaVierre, Jeff Carter, Jerry Olson, Jon Lundgren, and Michael Carr. At the center, always, has been the couple — Liz Hoshizaki on percussions and vocals, and Russell Hoshizaki on guitar. They may still be active and certainly were so as of 2012.
Easy Livin’ was a Sansei dance band that included in its ranks Dennis Yokotake (keyboards), Duane Kamei (guitar), Michael Kosaka (bass), Rickie Miyake, and Teri Kusumoto (vocals). They formed in 1971. Kusumoto went on to join Hiroshima. Yokotake later joined the Music Company.
Ellison “Eli” Kyong Jae Kim was born in Los Angeles in 1991 and is currently a member of the K-Pop band, U-KISS, where he performs the group’s raps.
Taiwanese American pop musician Elise Go was born and raised in San Francisco. Raised playing classical music, she went to the Berklee College of Music to study music where she was introduced to jazz. Around 2018, she moved to Los Angeles. Her first batch of songs was released as an EP titled, The Scorpion Sessions.
Chinese-Burmese composer, performer, and post-production Emily Yang graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Berklee College of Music in 2018. Her first instrument was piano but she also plays flute, guitar, violin, and saung. Her work, currently, is focused on post-production for audio in film, television, and video games.
EMILY’S SASSY LIME
Emily’s Sassy Lime was the first all Asian-American rock band, comprised of Wendy and Amy Yao, and Emily Ryan. They formed in 1993 and in 1995 they released their album Desperate, Scared But Not Social and appeared in the video for The PeeChees‘ “Mad Doctor.” They broke up in 1997 after which the Yao sisters continued making music and Emily Ryan starred in the film, Scumrock. Fliers for their shows were featured in the Orange County Museum of Art‘s Alien She exhibition in 2015. In 2016, a fanzine “focused on writings and artwork by and about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” was launched, titled named Would Be Saboteurs Take Heed after one of Emily’s Sassy Lime’s songs.
ETTY LAU FARRELL
Etty Lau Farrell is a dancer and a star of the television series, Married to Rock. She was also a backing vocalist in the band, Satellite Party. She was born, Etty Lau, in Hong Kong, in 1974. At the age of ten, she and her family moved to Bellevue, Washington. She studied ballet at the Royal Academy of Dance, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Cornish College of the Arts. At eighteen, she won a scholarship to the Edge Performing Art Center in Los Angeles. In 1997, whilst dancing on Jane’s Addiction‘s Relapse tour, she met Perry Farrell. They married in 2002. They have two sons, Hezron and Izzadore. In 2010, she appeared on the television series, Married to Rock.
Far★East Movement was formed in Los Angeles in 2003 by Kev Nish (Kevin Nishimura), Prohgress (James Roh), J-Splif (Jae Choung), and DJ Virman (Virman Coquia). They released their debut, Folk Music, in 2006. They had a number one hit with “Like a G6” in 2010, making them the first Asian-American group to top the charts.
Felson Palad is a gospel singer-songwriter from Dasmariñas, Cavite. He formed a band in high school. He majored in human biology at De La Salle University-Dasmarinas. He has released two albums. He currently lives in Mission Viejo.
1521 are a self-described “Pin-Oi Pop Pangk” band from Los Angeles.
Forever Young was a trio comprised of Duc Huy, his then-wife, Thao Mi, and Thanh Ha.
Free Flight was a dance band that included in its line-up Mariko Nishizu (vocals), Randy Yoshimoto (drums), Lindsay Miyamoto, and Jerry Kamei (keyboards).
FROM THE VALLEY
From the Valley are a Woodland Hills-based band comprised of Edizon Dia (guitar and vocals), Leonard Zipagan (guitars), Macky Domingo (bass), and Francis Nuega (drums).
Gabriela’s Karma is a “Fil Am local underground band based in Los Angeles.” Members of the four-piece include Chey Buendia Buhain (bass).
By day, GG Star is a nurse instructor. By night, she’s a karaoke host, singer, and leader of her band, the G Strings.
Goh Nakamura is a composer, musician, singer, and actor. He hails from the San Francisco Bay Area and in the 1990s, Nakamura graduated from the Berklee College of Music. Since then, however, he’s relocated to Downtown Los Angeles. His work has often been featured in films and he has worked as a musician in several films directed by Ridley Scott. He made his acting debut in Surrogate Valentine, although he played a version of himself, and the sequels, Daylight Savings and I Will Make You Mine.
Gingee (née Marjorie Light) is a Pinay DJ, producer, percussionist, and vocalist who makes global bass and she was born and raised in Eagle Rock. She studied music at Pitzer College and there learned to play the kulintang. She began making music in 2003 and in 2006, she and her siblings started a community art and music show called Magic Garage in the family home. Eventually outgrowing that space it relocated to the Airliner in Lincoln Heights.
Glenn Horiuchi was a composer and musician who played piano and shamisen. He was born in 1955. He was a key figure in the Asian American jazz scene and thus, naturally, performed with many jazz musicians of both Asian and non-Asian backgrounds. He also lectured at colleges and universities around the US. His first album was Oxnard Beet, recorded with Francis Wong (tenor sax, flute), Leon Alexander (drums, vibes), and Taiji Miyagawa (bass). It was released in 1988. His last was 1999’s Fair Play. He was diagnosed with colon cancer that year and died the following, on 3 June 2000.
Glenn Jacinto is a musician and songwriter known for fronting the alternative rock band, Teeth, in the 1990s. Teeth had Filipino hits with the songs “Laklak,” “Prinsesa,” and “Shooting Star.” In 2000, Jacinto moved to Los Angeles and got involved in the Lokal Pinoy scene. Teeth broke when on hiatus whilst Jacinto launched a solo career. They resumed as a band in 2014.
Gloria Fanchiang is a Taiwanese Angeleno singer-songwriter from New Jersey who writes Christian music.
GRAND FOOLS DERBY
Grand Fools Derby is a rock band that formed in Los Angeles CA in 2003. The quartet also write songs for other artists. The band’s singer is Monty Rili.
Half Mute are an electronic duo comprised of Benjie Collantes (ex-Spiral Echo) and Deo Mendoza.
Hana Vu is a musician who was born in the San Fernando Valley. After her parents divorced, she and her two siblings moved back and forth between their dad’s home in Sherman Oaks and their mom’s in the Hollywood Hills. Vu attended high school at North Hollywood High School. She was accepted by New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music by opted to remain in Los Angeles, making a living as a musician. She’s mentioned Lana del Rey and Taylor Swift as influences. At fourteen years old, she began uploading tracks to Bandcamp. In 2018 she released an EP, How Many Times Have You Driven By, followed by a 2019 EP, Nicole Kidman/Anne Hathaway. Her full-length debut album was Public Storage, co-produced by Jackson Phillips of Day Wave, was released on Ghostly International. Its follow-up was the EP, Parking Lot.
HANNAH PARK (of Shiro)
Hannah Park is one-half of the Long Beach “sad synth duo” Shiro 싫어. She handles vocals, synthesizers, and piano. Park is a classically trained musician who in her teens liked a diverse mix of music including experimental electronic, Motown, punk, rap, and R&B
The band’s other half, Steven Spillane, plays synthesizers and guitar. It was originally a four-piece but since releasing their self-titled debut EP, bassist Brian Moore and drummer John Grillot are no longer with the band.
Headstone was a Sansei dance band.
Hem Vannak is a Khmer singer from Phnom Penh, where he attended Santormok High School. He subsequently studied at Norton University and then moved to Long Beach, where he continued his studies at Long Beach City College. He was a regular performer at Hak Heang in Cambodia Town until 2014.
Henry Chuc is a singer whose repertoire includes dance, hip-hop, and pop music. He was born in Vietnam in 1968 to Hoa parents. At the age of eleven, the Chuc family moved to California and attended high school in Tujunga. In 1991, Chuc won first place in a karaoke contest, the prize for which was a trip to Hong Kong. After returning from Hong Kong, Chuc began a two-year singing engagement at La Cité in El Monte. From there he moved the Vietnamese cabaret circuit of Little Saigon and performed on Paris By Night. He released his solo debut, A Man Without Love, in 1994.
Hiroshima is an Asian-American Jazz group formed in Los Angeles in 1974 by Dan Kuramoto, (wind instruments and bandleader), Peter Hata (guitar), June Kuramoto (koto), Johnny Mori (percussion and taiko), Dave Iwataki (keyboards), and Danny Yamamoto (drums). Their first vocalist was Nancy “Atomic Nancy” Sekizawa, later celebrated for her role in transforming Little Tokyo‘s Atomic Cafe into a popular punk and new waver hangout. All were born in Los Angeles except Kuramoto, who moved to Los Angeles at a young age from Saitama Prefecture. They released their self-titled debut in 1979. In the years since they’ve moved into smooth jazz and new age territory.
Composer Ho Ling Tang was born in Hong Kong. She earned a master’s degree in scoring film, television, and video games from the Berklee College of Music.
Hoang Lan is a singer of pop and Vietnamese traditional music. She’s the daughter of folk opera actress and singer Kim Tuyen. She was born “Nguyen Phuong Linh” in 1967. She came to the US at the age of 22 and after several years moved to Metro Los Angeles. She began recording for the label, Nhac Tinh, in 1994. She made her debut on Paris By Night in 1995. In 1997, she released her solo debut, Qua Con Me. Hoang Lan has since released many albums and performed both for overseas Vietnamese audiences and in Vietnam.
Hương Lan is a singer and former child prodigy. She was born “Tran Thi Ngoc Anh” in 1956 to the famous performer, Huu Phuoc, and his wife. She made her performing debut at the age of five in cai luong. When she was ten, she performed “Ai Ra Xu Hue” on national television. In 1975, she married fellow cai luong performer Chi Tam. They had a child the following year. Hương Lan moved to Paris in 1978, where she supported her family by working as a cook. She had another child in 1978. She and her husband divorced in 1982. In 1985, she moved to Metro Los Angeles where she went on to perform on Paris By Night more than any other artist in the program’s history. She also co-hosted Vietnam Program on KSCI Channel 18. After performing in Vietnam in 1994, Hương Lan faced a backlash from overseas fans. Over time, however, the fans have returned and she continues to perform, dividing her time between California and Vietnam.
HYE JIN PARK
Hye Jin Park (박혜진) was born in Seoul. Before moving to Los Angeles, she also lived in London and Melbourne. She began singing and rapping around 2015 and started DJing in 2017 and began producing her own music in 2018. She released an EP, How Can I, in 2020. She released her debut, Before I Die, on 10 September 2021.
IAMMEDIC is a pop group formed in 2010 Enik Lin, formerly of Burning Tree Project. Lin soon added Danny Park, Andre Harris, and DJ Yup to the line-up.
IHUI CHERISE WU (of POLARTROPICA)
Ihui Cherise Wu was born in Taipei. Her family relocated to San Jose when she was two. After college, she moved to Los Angeles where she joined her first band, Sanglorians, on trumpet and keyboard. She then moved on to play with Light FM and Robotanists. Wu former her own band, Polartropica, in 2015. She composed the score and acted in the short film, Lexical Gap. She also works as a realtor for Golden Land Investments & Financial.
Polartropica- The Past Could Be (Radiobread) from Simone White
INTRoVOYS, is a Los Angeles-based five-piece rock band with roots in Manila, where they formed in 1986. In 1992, they released the singles “Kaibigan,” “Maynila,” “Calling All Nations,” and “However Whichway.” Their debut album was Back to the Roots. In 2005, they relocated to Los Angeles and released A Brighter Day.
IRITA PAI (of L.A. WITCH)
Irita Pai is the bassist and organist for the band, L.A. Witch, which was formed in 2011. The band began with Pai on keyboards (she began piano lessons at the age of six) and bass (an instrument she picked up around 2009), Diana (drums and guitar), and Crystal (also on drums). Soon they found a vocalist with Sade Sanchez, who’d previously played in a two-piece with current band drummer, Ellie English. They released their debut single, “Your Ways,” in 2012. Their debut, self-titled EP followed in 2013. Their self-titled debut, released by Suicide Squeeze, was released in 2017. The band also sell (and model) women’s clothing and accessories on their website, Kill My Baby Tonight.
James Saburo Shigeta was an actor and singer who appeared — often as the romantic male lead — in major Hollywood films including The Crimson Kimono (1959), Walk Like a Dragon (1960), Flower Drum Song (1961), Bridge to the Sun (1961), Die Hard (1988), and Mulan (1998).
Shigeta was born in the Territory of Hawaii on 17 July 1929. He graduated from President Theodore Roosevelt High School in Honolulu. After studying drama at New York University, Shigeta came to Los Angeles and teamed with he teamed with Native Hawaiian operatic tenor Charles K.L. Davis. Their agent gave them the stage names “Guy Brion” and “Charles Durand” and they performed at supper clubs and other venues. During the Korean War, he enlisted in the Marines. Afterward, he was hired to star in a Toho film, for which he learned Japanese. He found success in Hollywood in the 1950s and returned to music, performing on television shows and in musicals — and ultimately released two records, Scene One and We Speak The Same Language (1962). He died on 28 July 2014.
Jason Chen (陳以桐) is a Taiwanese Angeleno pop singer. He was born in Boston to a mother who taught piano. When a few months old, his family moved to Arcadia, where he was raised. He initially garnered notice for his covers, disseminated on YouTube, which he launched in 2007. He graduated from UCLA in 2010 with a BA in economics. From 2011 through 2014, he released five studio albums.
Jason Chu is a spoken word/hip-hop artist.
Jay Som is the stage name of Melina Mae Duterte, a “bedroom pop” singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. She was born in 1994 in Walnut Creek. As a child, she learned to play trumpet and guitar. At the age of twelve, she began writing and recording her own compositions. She’s thus far released three albums — Turn Into (a collection of demos) and Everybody Works. After its completion, she moved to Los Angeles and began recording Anak Ko.
JEAN AND JUNE MILLINGTON (of FANNY)
Fanny was one of the first, successful, all-female rock groups. It was formed by June Millington, whose family moved from the Philippines to Sacramento in 1961. In high school, June and her younger sister Jean formed the all-female band, The Svelts. After the dissolution of The Svelts, the Millington sisters joined the soul-cover band, Wild Honey, and relocated with them to Los Angeles. In 1969, Wild Honey was signed to Reprise Records and shortly after renamed themselves Fanny. Fanny recorded four albums before June quit the band. After a final album in 1975, Fanny disbanded. The Millington sisters continued to play music together, including in 2018, Fanny Walked the Earth.
JEAN PAUL YAMAMOTO
Jean Paul Yamamoto was a project of Lun*na Menoh, who launched the idea for a nomination of music and theatrics after she and her Seksu Roba bandmate, Sukho Lee, decided to pursue other projects following a world tour. For Jean Paul Yamamoto, Lun*na Menoh is backed by two backup singers, The J-Girls (Ruriko Ayako and Moeko Maeda), who also model Menoh’s sartorial creations. The band also featured Alan Myers (ex-Devo on drums) and Shin Kawasaki (guitar). Their song, “Starbucks Hyper Bitch,” appeared on the 2007 compilation, Radioactive Decay – A Drop Dead Compilation Of Art Music.
Jennifer Chung is a singer-songwriter. She was born in Korea to a dance teacher and a recording artist. She was raised in the San Francisco Bay area. She later moved to Metro Los Angeles and received a BA in drama from the University of California, Irvine. She posted her first music video on YouTube in 2007. Her debut, 4 Years & Counting, was released in 2011. It was followed by a mini-album, After All. Chung now lives with her husband in Atlanta, Georgia, with whom she records as WATS.
JENNIFER HWANG (of MEHO PLAZA)
Synthesizer-player Jennifer Hwang was, along with drummer James Connelly and singer/guitarist Mike Thrasher (ex-Gwenmars), one-third of the band, Meho Plaza, who released their sole, eponymous album in 2008. A year later she married her longtime boyfriend, Steven Jacob. Meho Plaza have seemingly been inactive since.
Arigato Grande is Jenny Ly, who parodied Ariana Grande‘s music video and song, “7 Rings,” with her own “7 Meats.” The idea for a gogigui-themed (widely known — if misleadingly — as Korean BBQ) parody began with the Asian Creative Network, of which Ly is a member. After the internet success of “7 Meats,” Arigato Grande followed with “Don’t Call It Asian” and “Boba Tea Bitches” — featuring Ly’s collaborators MilkT Cyrus (choreographer Bree Lee) and Lana del Rice (Sophia Tran).
Jenny Wong was born and raised in Hong Kong. When teaching high school, she began dreaming of a career as a conductor. She came to the US to study conducting at the University of Southern California,. Since 2017, she became the Associate Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Since 2020, she’s been the Associate Artistic Director.
Jessica Fichot was born in New York to a French father and Chinese mother. She spent much of her youth in Paris where she graduated from the Lycée International before earning her bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music. Her music draws on the traditions of French chanson, gypsy jazz, and shidaiqu. She also composes music and sounds for indie video games and children’s programs. She moved to Los Angeles before releasing her debut album, Le Chemin in 2007. She followed with Le Secre in 2012. She released an EP, Dear Shanghai, in 2014.
JESSICA HUANG (of DRAAG)
Shoegaze band Draag began as a solo project of trained mariachi musician Adrian Acosta. The project expanded to a quintet with the addition of Nick Kelley, Ray Montes, Shane Graham, and Jessica Huang, who contributes keyboards and vocals. The self-titled Draag was released in 2014. Two EPs, Nontoxic Process and Clara Luz, followed.
Jett Kwong is a singer and guzheng player who was raised in Denver. She released her debut, the Stark Knight EP, in 2016. She moved to Los Angeles after graduating from college.
Korean-American guitarist/vocalist John Lee formed aMiniature in San Diego by with bassist Colin Watson in 1990. The “a” in the band’s name is silent and was added to avoid confusion with a jazz combo named Minature. They disbanded in 1997.
Joanna Wang (王若琳) is a singer-songwriter and daughter of producer Wang Zhi-ping (王治平). She was born in Taiwan but raised in San Gabriel, where she attended Gabrielino High School. She released her debut, Start from Here, in 2008 – a double-disc set including one disc of the songs sung in English and the other in Chinese. Although she began her career as a pleasant if fairly conventional jazz vocalist, she quickly evolved into a wonderful weirdo who seems to improbably draw upon early baroque, film scores, pico pop, and shibuya-kei in a way that manages to somehow evoke Jonathan Richman, Toog, and Wendy Carlos — all at the same time.
Jolida Sar is a Khmer singer based in Harbor City who has performed at various venues in Cambodia Town as well as at Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood.
JOHN CHO (of VIVA LA UNION)
John Cho is a well-known actor. He is also a musician in the band Viva La Union. Cho was born “Cho Yo-Han” in 1972. His father was a minister in the Church of Christ denomination from North Korea. He acted in Shopping for Fangs (1997) and Yellow (1998) but the first film role that brought him considerable notice was in Better Luck Tomorrow (2002). He later starred in notable Hollywood films including Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) and Searching (2018).
Cho was born in Seoul and moved, with his family, to the US in 1978. He was raised in Houston, Seattle, Daly City, Monterey Park, and Los Angeles. He graduated from high school in Glendale in 1990. He afterward enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley. After graduation, Cho taught English at Pacific Hills School in West Hollywood whilst acting at East West Players in Little Tokyo. In 2006, Cho married actress Kerri Higuchi.
Cho is less well known for being the singer in Viva La Union — formerly known as Left of Zed. The band, comprised of Berkeley and USC alumni Alberto Albis (bass), Brian Sapp (guitar), and Fernando Torreblanca (drums), have thus far released one album, Viva La Union, and their song “Chinese Baby” was featured on the soundtrack of Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
Joseph Vincent Encarnacion was born 1989 in Los Angeles. He began playing guitar when fifteen, covering the likes of mainstream pop singers Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz. He released his debut album, Blue Skies, in 2011.
Julie Quang is an Indian-Vietnamese singer based in Metro Los Angeles. She was born “Rany Angot” in 1951 in Sa Dec, South Vietnam. Her mother was Vietnamese and her father an Indian Frenchman. When she was less than a year old, her family returned to her father’s hometown of Pondichery, India. Her father died in 1956 after which her mother returned to Vietnam with her six children, where they lived in Can Tho. She began singing in Saigon in the 1960s, primarily for American audiences. She joined a band, The Free Ones, in the late ’60s. In 1970, she formed The Dreamers, with her sister, Beny, and two of singer Pham Duy‘s sons, Duy Quang and Duy Cuong. she had a hit with Pham Duy’s “Mua Thu Chet.” Later in the year, she married Duy Quang and gave birth to a daughter, Ly Lan. She released her first solo album, Tinh Ca Pham Duy, in 1971. In 1974, Julie Quang and Duy Quang separated. Julie Quang was performing in France when Saigon fell, which led to her decision to remain there. Despite their separation, the couple were reunited in Paris and lived together. In 1980 they moved, with their family, to Metro Los Angeles and divorced not long after. Afterward, Julie dropped “Quang” from her name and, known simply as Julie, continued her career. Her most popular album of the 1980s was Ngan Nam Van Doi, which was comprised of Vietnamese-language covers of Japanese songs, which brought her Japanese fandom. In the early 1990s, at the peak of her fame, Julie moved to Hawaii. Since the 2000s, however, Julie has divided her time between homes in California, France, and Vietnam.
Just Us were a Sansei dance band.
Justin Yau is a musician with roots in Hong Kong.
KAREN O (of YEAH YEAH YEAHS)
Karen Lee Orzolek, better known as Karen O, is the singer for the rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Born in Busan, Korea in 1978, she and her parents later moved to Englewood, New Jersey. She attended Oberlin College before transferring to New York University‘s Tisch School of the Arts. After breaking up with director Spike Jonze, she moved to Los Angeles.
Kavee “Kevin” Thongpricha was for years a five-nights-a-week fixture at Palms Thai, where — due to his appearance and much of his repertoire — he was better known as “Thai Elvis.” So popular was he, in fact, that he inspired imitation Thai Elvis’s at other restaurants (e.g. Jinda) and a Thai Elvis burger at Oinkster. Although he normally performed karaoke, he was backed on occasion by a live band, as was the case when he performed at a club in Silver Lake called Spaceland (now Satellite). Unfortunately for Angelenos, Thongpricha “left the building” as it were, and moved back to Bangkok around 2015.
Kazan Taiko was founded in the fall of 2002 by Koichi Sanchez and Bridge Mei at the University of Southern California.
Kazuo Takeda was born in Tokyo on 11 March 1952. He started playing guitar in bands when he was fifteen. Kazuo Takeda formed the blues-rock band, Blues Creation, in Tokyo, in 1969 with Koh Eiryu and Fumio Nunoya after the dissolution of their “group sounds” band, The Bikes. They released three studio albums — Blues Creation (1969), Demon & Eleven Children (1971), and Carmen Maki & Blues Creation (1971) — before disbanding in 1972. Blues Creation returned in 1975 simply as Creation (not to be confused with the British band, The Creation). As Creation, they released Creation (1975), Creation with Felix Pappalardi (1976), Pure Electric Soul (1977), Pacific Rock Creation and Little River Band (1977), Super Rock in the Highest Voltage (1978), Lonely Heart (1981), and Rock City (1982). As a solo artist, he released Misty Morning Flight (1978) and Sometime Blues (1982). Songs For a Friend (1983) and Rainy Nite Dreamer (1984) were credited to Kazuo Takeda & Creation. Takeda later moved to Los Angeles where for many years he has worked as a session musician.
Kei Akagi (ケイ赤城) was born 16 March 1953 in Sendai, Japan but lived in Cleveland as a child before returning to Japan at the age of twelve. He returned to the US when he was 22. His solo career began with the release of Symphonic Fusion The Earth in 1983. He is a pianist best known for his work with the Airto Moreira/Flora Purim group, the Bobby Shew Quintet, the Gary Lefebvre Quartet, the James Newton Ensemble, and, beginning in late 1980s, in Miles Davis‘s band. In the early 1990s, he was a member of the Asian American Jazz Trio with Akira Tana and Rufus Reid. In the 2000s, he lead the Kei Akagi Trio with Tamaya Honda. He is currently the Chancellor Professor of Music at the University of California, Irvine.
Kenny Thái is a singer who enjoyed considerable fame in the 1990s. Thái was born in 1967 to a Hoa family in Vũng Tàu, South Vietnam. His family left Vietnam in 1975 and re-settled in Metro Los Angeles. When he was twenty, Thái became a regular performer at the Ritz, in Anaheim. Raised in a Cantonese-speaking household, he gradually picked up Vietnamese. In 1990, Kenny Thái married singer Ý Nhi and in 1994, they formed Ý Entertainment and Thái Productions. In the early 2000s, they both retired and turned to the business of rearing their two children and running their businesses, Save Lots and Saddleback Beauty Academy.
Khánh Hà is a popular Vietnamese-American singer. Hà was born in Da Lat in 1952. Her father, Lữ Liên, was in the North Vietnamese trio known as AVT. She was one of seven children. Two of her older siblings, Bích Chiêu and Tuấn Ngọc, were already established singers in Saigon when Khánh Hà made her debut at sixteen at the Queen Bee Nightclub as part of a revue called “Hippies a Go-Go.” Khánh Hà and her brother, Anh Tú, formed a band called The Flowers that primarily performed in Saigon nightclubs and for US military personal. Joined by their sister, Thúy Anh, the siblings next formed a vocal trio, Thúy Hà Tú. The group later changed its name to The Blue Jets before transforming, with the addition of their sister Lan Anh is drums, to The Uptight in 1972.
After the Fall of Saigon, The Uptight relocated to the US. From there, they performed for overseas Vietnamese in North America, Australia, and Europe. Khánh Hà released her first solo album, Goi Giac Mo Xua, in 1981. They recorded for several labels before forming Khánh Hà Productions in 1988. Not long after, she and her siblings opened a nightclub, Chez Moi, in Alhambra. In 1992, she married Chan Phong and they had two sons. She lives, today, in Anaheim Hills.
Khánh Ly is a legendary Vietnamese singer who rose to fame in the 1960s with her interpretations of songs by Trịnh Công Sơn. She was the first woman to headline a concert in her homeland. She later found success in Japan, singing Japanese translations of her hits. She fled Vietnam in 1975 with many other refugees and for many years now has made her home in Cerritos. (Read more)
Kim Ngân is a pop singer who was popular with the overseas Vietnamese community in the 1980s but, since a descent into mental illness, has lived on the streets for decades now. Kim Ngân was born in Saigon in 1963, the eldest of three children. In 1975, Ngân and family — minus her father — left Vietnam for the US. In 1982, she married Nguyen Tien Bac. They had two daughters. She had her first hit in 1983, with “Khong” and soon after formed her own production company, Kim Ngân. She was tremendously popular and headlined Vietnamese cabarets like Dem Mau Hong and Saigon Cabaret. In 1989, she embarked on a successful Europe tour with Duy Quang, Ngoc Lan, Nhu Mai, and Thai Thanh.
By the mid-1990s, it became evident to Ngân’s friends and colleagues that she was suffering from mental illness. In performances, she would forget lyrics, miss performances, and lash out unexpectedly at those around her. By the late 1990s, she was living in a car. She gave birth to a son, which in 2001, was taken away by Child Protective Services. Family and friends have made considerable efforts to help but Ngân continues to suffer and live on the streets.
Kin’s Betrayal are a heavy metal band from Buena Park. They formed in 2010 and are currently comprised of Alvin (vocals), Zadin (guitar), and CJ (bass guitar).
Key-Kool is a rapper from the South Bay suburb of Torrance. His real name is Kikuo Nishi. In 1982, he began breakdancing. The following year, he began experimenting with DJing. He majored in English at UCLA. After performing, for a time, with a Mexican-Samoan rapper known as Intellect, he hooked up a Filipino DJ, Rhettmatic. In 1995, he and Rhettmatic released Kozmonautz. He later performed with Visionaries.
Khoa Van Le is an author, producer, composer, and photographer. He was also a television host in Vietnam, having played Brother Khoa, the Vietnamese equivalent of Mr. Rogers. He fled Vietnam in 1975 and settled in Orange. In 1995, his piece, 1975, was performed by the Pacific Symphony Institute Orchestra.
King Kang are a Long Beach-based outfit comprised of Esther Kang (vocals, guitar), David Oh (drums), Gino Martez (guitar), Kris Jackson (keyboards, synthesizers), and Matthew Proffitt (bass, trombone). The band’s leader, Esther Kang, was born and raised in Orange County. Raised by conservative Christian grandparents, she came out as gay and moved to Long Beach, where she worked as a music critic at the Long Beach Post. She formed King Kang in 2015. In 2017, they released Summer of Fire.
King Soriya is a Khmer singer. She was a regular performer at Golden Villa, a now-closed restaurant in Cambodia Town.
Klassy is a rapper who was born in Pacita Laguna, Philippines and raised in Echo Park.
KO AKA KOALA
Ko AKA Koala is the stage name of Florida-born visual artist, and singer/rapper Ko Lee. After a stint in New York City, she moved to Los Angeles around 2018 and began DJing before transitioning into writing her own music.
Koshin Taiko is a taiko ensemble based in Venice. It was founded in 1992 under the guidance of Master Etsuo Hongo. Today the ensemble is led by founding members Virginia Minami and Wesley Hayashi. They practice regularly at the Venice Japanese Community Center.
KWAN LEUNG LING
Hongkonger musician Kwan Leung Ling.
L.A. Boyz were a Taiwanese American pop trio composed of brothers Jeff Huang (黃立成) and Stanley Huang (黃立行) and their cousin, Steven Lin (林智文). They formed around 1991, when all three were students at Irvine’s University High School. They released their debut, 閃 – Shiam!, in 1992, which was a commercial success in Taiwan. It was followed by 跳, released the same year. After that they released Ya! (1993); 啊哈! – That’s The Way, Phat 炫, and Fantasy (all 1994); Young Guns and R.O.C.K. (both 1995); Pure Energy (1997); and 冒險 (1997). After they split up, Jeff started an internet company that later merged with a Japanese software company before joining the Taiwanese hip-hop group, Machi. Stanley established a solo career. Steve is an orthopedic surgeon.
THE LAC HONG
The Lac Hong was an Orange County ensemble that played traditional Vietnamese music. The ensemble was founded around 1987 by Chau Nguyen, a former dean of traditional music at Saigon’s National Conservatory of Music and Drama.
Lam Anh is a singer. She was born Tran Thi Bich Ha in 1987 in Bien Hoa. At the age of fifteen, as Bich Ha, she competed in HTV‘s talent show, Tiếng Hát Truyền Hình. She pursued her education at Dong Nai School of Performing Arts and Saigon Music Conservatory. She left Vietnam in 2007 and came to Orange County, where she was a featured performer at Majestic Nightclub. The following year, she signed with Thuy Nga Paris and made her debut on Paris By Night. She has released several solo albums, Anh Đã Xa Tôi (2011), Về Lại Cõi Sầu (2013), and Ngã Rẽ (2015), as well as recorded numerous duets.
DJ LANI LOVE
DJ Lani Love — aka “The Wholesome DJ” — is an eclectic DJ who spins house and Vietnamese Rap, among other genres. She was born Lani Nguyen in Huntington Beach. Love also shares cooking tips — she’s been a vegetarian since 1995. Love began her career as a DJ in 2007, whilst working at an ad agency in New York City. In 2011, she relocated to Chicago where she was voted “Chicago’s Best DJ” for three years in a row by readers of the Chicago Tribute. In 2017, she returned to Southern California, where she’s one-third of the producer/DJ crew, Club Mesh, with Chess Knight and Dial Jess. On 30 June 2022, she released her first original track, “Candlestick Flicka.” She followed it with “Iced Coffee.”
Larissa Lam is a singer, songwriter, filmmaker, and media personality. She was born and raised in Diamond Bar. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in business economics. From 2001 to 2015, she released six studio albums and produced Christian rapper Only Won‘s Lyrical Engineer (2010). She also directed a short documentary about the rapper called Finding Cleveland. In 2020, she released a feature-length documentary, Far East Deep South.
LARRY RAMOS (of THE ASSOCIATION)
Larry Ramos was born Hilario Ramos to Larry and Pat Ramos on 19 April 1942 in Waimea, Kauai County, Hawaii. Ramos rose to prominence as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist in the 1960s. Ramos was of Filipino descent, with Chinese and Spanish ancestry. Ramos’s father taught him to play the ukulele when he was four. He and his sister won a music contest when he was five and at seven he played ukulele on one of Arthur Godfrey‘s television shows. In the early 1950s, the Ramos family moved to Bell, California. After graduating from Bell High School, Ramos majored in political science at East Los Angeles College and Cerritos College. In 1962, he joined the New Christy Minstrels. He married his wife, Helene, in 1964. He quit the New Christy Minstrels in 1966 and released a solo single, “It’ll Take a Little Time” b/w “Gotta Move On” the same year. In 1967, he joined the Association. He left that band in 1975 but reunited with surviving members (Brian Cole died of a heroin overdose in 1972) in 1979. He continued to perform with the band even after suffering a heart attack in 2011 and being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in 2013. He died 30 April 2014, aged 72.
Singer Lệ Thu was born Bùi Thị Oanh in Hai Phong in 1943. When she was ten years old, she and her mother moved to South Vietnam. When she was sixteen, she was performed at an open night at Bong Lai Nightclub and, using the alias Le Thu, agreed to perform regularly. After three years, she moved to Tu Do Nightclub in 1962, after which she went on to headline many Saigon cabarets and record many popular songs.
Le Thu fled Vietnam in 1979 and arrived, in a boat, at a refugee came in Pulau Bidong, Malaysia before moving to Metro Los Angeles in 1980. In the US, she resumed her career as a performer, entertaining overseas Vietnamese and recording for numerous Vietnamese American labels. Her rendition of “Muoi Nam Tinh Cu” became her signature song. She married and divorced twice, has three children, and lived in Fountain Valley. She died on 15 January 2021.
LE UYEN & PHUONG
Lê Uyên & Phương was formed in Saigon by songwriter Lê Uyên Phương (né Le Minh Lap) and his Hanoi-born wife, singer Lê Uyên (née Lam Phuc Anh). Lê Uyên & Phương performed throughout South Vietnam and recorded for various South Vietnamese labels until the Fall of Saigon. In 1979, the couple and their two daughters, Lê Uyên Uyên and Lê Uyên Mi, moved to Metro Los Angeles. In the early 1980s, they opened a café in Santa Ana, LUP, that featured live entertainment. Lê Uyên was seriously injured in crossfire exchanged between gangs in front of the café in 1984 and afterward spent the next four years in recovery. LUP closed in 1985. After years of recovery, Le Uyen embarked on a solo career. In 1988, she embarked on a tour of Japan with Kim Tuyen and Thanh Thuy. She afterward recorded for numerous Vietnamese American labels and began appearing on Paris By Night in 1991. In the mid-1990s, Le Uyen & Phuong reunited for a performance of their greatest hits. Her husband died in 1999.
Lee Takasugi, formerly of Visiting Violette, released a solo album, Navigating By Stars, in 2007.
Lemona is a Los Angeles-based rock band comprised of Jazzie, Reden, and Leonard Zipagan; Jan Bersamira; and Dave Janiola.
Singer Lena Park was born Park Junghyun on 23 March 1976, in Downey. She’s currently based in South Korea. She began singing with her brothers Brian and Uriah in church and also learned saxophone and piano. Her debut album, Piece, was released in 1998.
Lenis is a Korean American R&B singer from Los Angeles. She released her debut single, “Told Him,” in 2017.
Leyna Phương Nguyễn is a widely-recognized news anchor and journalist in Los Angeles. What’s less-known, outside of the Vietnamese community, at least, is that she formerly pursued a career as a singer. Nguyễn was born in 1969 in Đông Hà. Her family fled Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and resettled in Minnesota. In 1987, at the age of seventeen, Nguyễn won the Miss Asia – USA beauty pageant. Afterward, she embarked on a career as a singer. She continued to perform and used her income to enroll at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. With producer Anh Tai, she recorded two albums of Vietnamese New Wave covers.
Nguyễn’s career as a singer ended when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. She worked as an anchor and reporter at WRDW in Augusta, KCRA in Sacramento, and finally, KCAL in Los Angeles, where she arrived in 1997.
She never completely turned her back on entertainment. She’s appeared in numerous films and in the 2000s hosted Vietnamese revues for Asia Entertainment. Nguyễn founded the non-profit charity, Love Across the Ocean, to serve underprivileged Vietnamese students in and refugees in Southern California. She married Michael Muriano in 2005 and they have two children. The couple divorced in 2013 and Nguyễn began dating Kato Kaelin. In 2020, she launched the podcast, Consenting Adults.
Leo Xia is a singer-songwriter enrolled at the University of Southern California.
LES SEWING SISTERS
Les Sewing Sisters is an experimental pop project by Japanese born artists Lun*na Menoh and Saori Mitome. The duo debuted in July 2019. Both performers share vocals and the only instruments are sewing machines.
Lilian Christensen is a popular singer known professionally simply as Lilian. Lilian was born Nguyen Dieu Hoa in Da Nang in 1965. Her mother is Vietnamese and her father, American. As a child, she was affectionately known as “Ly Ly.” At the age of five, her family relocated to Saigon. In 1972, her father returned with her brother to the US. After the Fall of Saigon, Lilian and her mother moved to Can Tho. In 1980, they came to the US and were reunited with the other half of their family.
Lilian began singing publicly in 1985, after graduating from Garden Grove High School, first with a wedding band called The Fantasy. She specialized in Vietnamese New Wave covers. In 1986, whilst performing at Đêm Màu Hồng in Santa Ana, she was spotted by singer Son Ca, who coaxed her into recording for her label, Son Ca Productions. As part of Trung Nghia‘s trio, she was a regular performer at Rex. After it closed, she moved to a residency at Ritz in 1989 where she performed for the next 14 years, until its closure. She made her debut on Paris By Night in 1993. She married Minh Nguyen in 2011 and they have two children.
Lao singer-songwriter Lina Luangrath was born in a refugee camp in Chonburi, Thailand to and soon after settled in Rockford, Illinois. In 2008, she enrolled at Briar Cliff University where she studied art music, classical, and opera. After years of performing and moving, she settled in Glendale.
THE LINDA LINDAS
The Linda Lindas are a band of young women formed in Chinatown, where they were born out of Martin Wong‘s Save Music in Chinatown benefits. The band is comprised of Martin’s daughter, Eloise Wong, two of Eloise’s cousins, Lucia and Mila de la Garza, and their friend, Bela Salazar. In 2021, their original composition, “Racist, Sexist Boy,” garnered considerable attention. In May of the same year, they signed with Epitaph Records.
LINDA TAN (of MAYBE VULTURES)
Maybe Vultures were an indie electronic band that formed around 2012 and was led by vocalist and keyboardist Linda Tan. The rest of the band was comprised of guitarist and drum machine programmer Scott Crawford, drummer Mikey Rodriguez, and bassist Bryan Yassi. Their stated mission was “to dance and destroy.” They released a demo of three songs, including “Hollow,” “Never-do-Wells,” and “The Midnight Hour.” They also performed a couple of shows at Silverlake Lounge in 2012 but seem to have gone on hiatus shortly afterward.
Lisa Yoshida is an educator, composer, and multi-instrumentalist whose primary instrument is the violin. She started playing violin when she was nine years old. She graduated from California State University Long Beach with a Masters of music in violin performance. She also has a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance and a French minor from Chapman University. She is a PhD candidate at the University of California Irvine for the integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology program. She currently performs with the Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble. She began composing in 2020. In 2021, she debuted Finally Alone, a piece performed with violin and electronics.
Liu Qichao (刘起超) is a Los Angeles-based, Chinese-born multi-instrumentalist associated with the Asian-American Jazz scene. He graduated from Shanghai Conservatory of Music. He’s collaborated with the Kronos Quartet, Jon Jang and the Pan Asian Arkestra, and the African Chinese Sextet. He also leads his own ensemble, Chi Music. He was married to guzheng player Zhang Yan (张燕), who died in 1996. In 2010, he released the album Planet Passion.
Loco Mojo was a Sansei dance band.
LONG TIME COMING
A Long Time Coming was a Sansei dance band featuring Howie Hiyoshida (vocals) and Randy Yoshimoto (drums/vocals).
Lor Bopha is a Cambodian American singer who performed regularly at Golden Villa in Cambodia Town. She was born in 1978 in Commune Phaav District, Kampong Cham province, where she was the youngest of eight siblings. She came to the US in the early 1980s. In the 1990s, she competed in beauty pageants and went on to sing. Now retired from public performance, she still operates Bopha Productions and teaches math and science in a local high school.
Los AKAtombros are a Crenshaw District-based jazz quintet comprised of Danny Yamamoto (drums/Hiroshima), David Cheung (guitar), Scott Nagatani (piano), Taiji Miyagawa (bass), and Tracy Wannomae (saxophone). They were born out of a 2013 jam session led by Nagatani at Grand Star Jazz Club in Chinatown.
LOS ANGELES TAIKO ICHIZA
The Los Angeles Taiko Ichiza – ロサンゼルス太鼓一座 is a taiko ensemble.
Low Leaf is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, and producer. She began taking piano lessons when she was five and later learned to play the harp. She was born Angelica Lopez in Hollywood and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She began performing her “jazztronica” compositions as Low Leaf in 2011.
R&B singer (and actor and writer) Lucy Park was raised in Tokyo, Hawaii, and London. Today she’s based in both London and Los Angeles. Park began performing jazz and pop covers before embarking on a career as a singer-songwriter in 2018. She released her first original song, “Rain,” in 2020. In 2021, she released an EP titled Before I Speak.
Lui Tsun-Yuen (呂振原) was a composer, performer, and teacher of Chinese classical music, to which he played a large part in introducing Western audiences. Lui was born in 1931 in Shanghai, where at the age of ten he began playing the pipa (琵琶) and the guzheng. Lui graduated from King Yee College in 1953 and the following year moved to Hong Kong where he found work as a performer in both concert halls and on the radio. In 1957 he moved to Brazil, where he participated in the São Paulo Music Festival. He afterward moved to the US and began recording for Lyrichord. He also worked in the exotica genre as part of a Las Vegas revue called Oriental Holiday.
In 1961, Lui accepted a position at UCLA teaching Chinese music, classical dance, and opera in the Department of Ethnomusicology and Systematic Musicology. In 1968, he opened for the Doors at the Forum in Inglewood. Lui died in January 2008.
Lun*na Menoh is a musician and artist whose art generally incorporates clothing and fashion. Born in Japan, she moved to Los Angeles in 1989. In 2000, she started the duo, Seksu Roba, with Sukho Lee. After the dissolution of Seksu Roba, Lun*na Menoh formed Jean Paul Yamamoto. In 2012, she formed Les Sewing Sisters with Saori Mitome, in which the sewing machine is the featured instrument. She is married to writer Tosh Berman.
Lưu Bích is a singer who comes from a family of musicians. She was born in 1968 — the youngest of seven siblings (Bich Chieu, Tuan Ngoc, Khanh Ha, Anh Tu, Thuy Anh, and Lan Anh,), all of whom became performers. In 1983, Lưu Bích joined the family band, the Uptight, on keyboards and background vocals. Gradually, her confidence in her vocals grew and she embarked on a solo career as a singer. She made her debut on Paris By Night in 1988. After initially recording for her sister, Khanh Ha’s, production label, she launched her own Luu Bich Productions. She has recorded numerous duets as well as solo albums on her own label.
Luu Hong is a singer. She was born in Cochinchin in 1947 to a German father and Vietnamese mother. She began singing publicly in 1965 when she took the stage at Queen Bee in Saigon at an open mic night. Afterward, she was presented with an offer to perform nightly at the club, which she did, as well as at many other Saigon cabarets.
After the Fall of Saigon, Luu Hong moved to the US and started her own label, Luu Hong Enterprises, on which she released her debut, Tieng Hat Luu Hong 1 – Loi Cuoi Cho Anh. In the decade that followed, she released a dozen studio albums, the most popular being 1988’s Tinh Ca Tuyet Voi. She performed on both Paris By Night and Asia Entertainment’s Tinh Yeu Tuoi Tre in the late 1980s and ’90s. She was a regular performer at Majestic and also toured across North America, Australia, and Europe. She retired from performance in 1995 and settled in El Toro. She divorced Duke Ngo, with whom she had two children. In 2012, her eldest son and mother died within weeks of one another.
LYNDA TRANG DAI
Lynda Trang Đài was born Lê Quang Quý Trang Đài in 1968 in Vietnam and came to Orange County‘s then-emerging Little Saigon community in 1979. She was a popular singer in the Vietnamese-American community, where she was often described as the “Vietnamese Madonna,” making her recording debut with 1989’s “Crazy Love.” She was also a staple of the popular Vietnamese variety program, Paris By Night. She currently operates Lynda Sandwich, a Westminster bánh mì cafe.
M.I.A. (née Mathangi Arulpragasam) was born on 18 July 1975 in London, England. She began her recording career in 2002, posting her music to sites like MySpace. Her debut album, Arular, was released in 2005. It was followed by Kala (2007). In 1008, she moved to Brooklyn where she met billionaire Benjamin Bronfman. The two were engaged and in 2009 moved into a mansion in the Westside Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood. In 2009, she gave birth to a son, Ikhyd Edgar Arular Bronfman. The couple broke up in 2012. M.I.A. went on to release the albums Maya (2010), Matangi (2013), and AIM (2016)
In 1986, Quoc Si, singer Nhu Mai, keyboardist Duy Tuong, and drummer Tuan Hy formed Nhu Mai & the Magic. Nhu Mai and Quoc Si became romantically as well as professionally involved. Nhu Mai & the Magic were one of the biggest Vietnamese American bands of the era. In 1989, Nhu Mai & the Magic toured Europe as part of a Vietnamese revue. All the while, however, Nhu Mai maintained a popular solo career and collaborated with many other artists. In 1992, the Magic Band’s keyboardist had undergone a bone marrow transplant as a treatment for leukemia. This was followed by the drummer’s death, a few years later. When Nhu Mai and Quoc Si broke up, it was the end of the Magic.
Mai Hương was a singer who comes from a well-established family of entertainers. She was born Pham Thi Mai Huong in Da Nang 1941 to Pham Dinh Sy and stage and actress Kieu Hanh. At various points of her childhood, her family lived in Hanoi, Hue, and Saigon, where they settled around 1952 and where she remained until just before the Fall of Saigon. Pham Thi Mai Hương’s introduction to the entertainment industry was as a child actress in a play, Tam Guong Nhi Nu. When she was twelve, she competed in a talent show as a singer. During her final year at Nguyen Ba Tong High School, she enrolled at the National Conservatory of Music where she learned to play the dan tranh and violin. When she was nineteen, she got married.
Mai Huong performed regularly for roughly twenty years on Radio Vietnam, where she collaborated with numerous talents and hosted a program on which she narrated short stories. Huong rarely performed live, however, avoiding engagements with nightclubs until 1970, when she took up a six-month residency at Tu Do. She was there when a mom exploded killing actress Thuy Ngoc and injuring many others.
The family fled Vietnam and arrived in Guam before making their way to Metro Los Angeles. Having left music behind her, Mai Huong became a bank clerk. In 1976, however, she performed in New Orleans which preceded more live shows, all while remaining an employee at Bank of America. In 1977, she toured France in a revue produced by Hoang Thi Tho, followed by performances throughout Europe and Australia.
In the 1980s, Mai Huong formed the traditional, nhac tien chien ensemble Tieng To Dong with Kim Tuoc and Quynh Giao. Eventually, she recorded at least solo albums before retiring as a singer. She retired from the bank in 2000 and lived with her husband, with whom she had four children, in Rowland Heights. She died on 20 November 2020.
Makoto Taiko is a taiko ensemble based in Pasadena. The ensemble was formed in 1999 as Shumei America Taiko Group. It currently maintains a membership of roughly 80 performers. It has long been led by Koji Nakamura.
Manuel Toi-gb is a Thai Elvis who used to co-own Thai Town institution Ruen Pair. He was born in Bangkok and came to Los Angeles in 1974. It was much later, however, that he began performing Elvis songs back in Thailand and now, sometimes, around Los Angeles and Southern California.
Mariqueen Maandig was born in 1981 and became the singer of West Indian Girl in 2004. She left that band in 2009 after her engagement to Trent Reznor. In 2010, Maandig and Reznor formed How to Destroy Angels.
MARK YI-EN TUAN
Taiwanese singer Mark Yi-en Tuan (段宜恩) is a member of the Korean boy band Got7. Born in 1993 in Arcadia, he was scouted by an agent from JYP Entertainment and moved to Korea where he appeared on the television program, WIN: Who Is Next in 2013, before joining the boy band.
Meas Somaly is a Khmer singer from Phnom Penh. She is now based in Long Beach where was also formerly a featured performer at Hak Heang Restaurant (and where she also formerly ran Somaly’s Beauty Salon).
Mia Matsumiya is a violinist and former member of the bands Kayo Dot and Tartar Lamb. She has also performed on albums by Daughters, Ghastly City Sleep, Gregor Samsa, and Maudlin of the Well. Matsumiya was born in Needham, Massachusetts in 1979 and attended Sarah Lawrence College. She later moved to Los Angeles where she dated filmmaker James Gunn. She made her recording debut on Kayo Dot’s 2003 album, Choirs of the Eye. She left Los Angeles for Texas where, in 2016, she gave birth to a daughter, Kira.
Saxophonist Michael Paulo began playing his chosen instrument at the age of fifteen and soon began playing around Hawaii, including in the band Kalapana. Paulo moved to Los Angeles in 1981 and played in the R&B group Rufus. In 1988 he released his solo album, One Passion.
Michael Kenji Shinoda was born in 1977 in Agoura Hills, where he co-founded Linkin Park in 1996. In 2003 he formed Fort Minor. He’s also produced tracks for several rap artists and co-founded the music label Machine Shop Recordings. Additionally, several pieces of his art have been featured in the Japanese American National Museum.
Jazz vocalist Miki Saito moved from Tokyo to San Francisco in 1968, on a one-year contract as a jazz singer. Shortly after, she moved to Los Angeles, where she regularly performed at Horikawa, the Biltmore, and elsewhere. In 1987 she took over Akasaka, in Temple-Beaudry, and re-opened it as Dinner House M (the name a reference to her surname and that of her sister, Maya Yamate). Miki remained a regular presence at the bar, rarely but occasionally singing with a live band. We now live in an age where “izakaya” is used to describe every new, Japanese establishment but the legendary, otherworldly, Dinner House M actually deserved the description (although I never ate the food there). Sadly, the club closed in 2011, and the occasion was marked by a couple of live performances led by Miki.
Milck (née Connie K. Lim) is a singer-songwriter raised in Palos Verdes by immigrant parents from Hong Kong. As a child, she learned classical piano and opera. She composed her first song, “Healthy People,” when she was seven. She went to UC Berkeley for college where she studied pre-medicine and joined an a cappella group, Golden Overtones. A performance of her song, “Quiet,” at the 2017 Women’s March raised her profile considerably and she signed to Atlantic, which released her debut EP, This Is Not The End, in 2018.
Mimi Star is a rock bassist, currently performing with Chicago‘s long-running industrial dance act, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, which is led by the band’s co-founder, Julien Legay, whom she married in 2011. Star was born Mami Sato in Kurume, Japan and after finishing high school there moved to Los Angeles where she attended East Los Angeles Community College in Monterey Park. From 2000-2006 she played bass with Rayon, which was followed by a 2006-2010 stint with The Mere Mortals, and from 2009-2010, another with The Warlocks.
Mr. Capone-E is a Pakistani-American sureño rapper, born Fahd Azam in West Covina. He began his recording career in 2000 and later founded Hi Power Entertainment, one time home to former Bone Thugs-N-Harmony members Bizzy Bone and Layzie Bone, as well as Chicano rappers including Mr. Criminal, Lil Tweety, and others.
Molyna Lim Yan is a Khmer singer from Phnom Penh. In 1998 she moved to Atlanta. She later moved to Southern California and whilst living there performed throughout the state at Cambodian restaurants and festivals. She married in 2013 and now lives with her family in Las Vegas and seems to have retired from public performance.
Not to be confused with the first band to be described as “shoegaze,” Los Angles’s Moose was a Filipino rock band that played Jologs Fest 2016.
THE MUSIC COMPANY
The Music Company is a dance band formed in 1982 by Dan Matsumura (bass), Dennis Yokotake, and Randy Yoshimoto. In 1992, they were joined by vocalists Howie Hiyoshida and Mariko Nishizu. They were still active at least as of 2015.
Musician Natasha Khan, who records as Bats For Lashes, was born in London in 1976 to an English mother, Josie, and a Pakistani squash player, Rehmat Khan. Her debut album, Fur and Gold, was released in 2006. She went on to release Two Suns (2009), The Haunted Man (2012), and The Bride (2016). After The Bride, her ten-year contract with Parlophone ended and she moved to Los Angeles’s Highland Park neighborhood. Khan is also the vocalist for Sexwitch — a collaboration between the singer and the Brighton UK band, Toy. Bat For Lashes’ latest, Lost Girls, was released in 2019.
NEW DAY IN AUGUST
New Day in August are comprised of Richie Del Rosario (vocals and guitars), Mike Abad (drums), Rx Aglibot (guitars and vocals), Badooo Morales (bass guitar), and Tolitz Rosel (keyboards). They made their live debut in 2006 in Filipinotown‘s Tribal Cafe as The Binary Project.
Ngọc Anh is a singer. She was born in Saigon in 1966 to a Vietnamese mother and Belgian father. She studied for four years at the Ho Chi Minh City Dramatic Arts Academy. At the age of sixteen, she sang in the music troupes Cửu Long Nữ and Sao Sáng. Around 1973, she and her mother emigrated to Boston.
It wasn’t until after Ngọc Anh moved to Metro Los Angeles in the early 1990s that she began performing publicly. In 1991, whilst at an open mic night Au Baccara, she sufficiently impressed the club’s owner with a performance of “Mùa Thu Lá Bay” which led to a gig at the cabaret in Fountain Valley. Shortly after, she began recording at Hải Âu Productions. After the closure of Au Baccara, she was a regular performer at Diamond, CAN, and other local Vietnamese cabarets. After working with several production companies, Ngọc Anh formed Ngọc Anh Productions in 1994 and recorded her solo debut, Ngục Tù Thương Yêu. At the peak of fame, she performed for audiences across North America and Europe. She retired from performance, however, in the early 2000s and moved to Houston, where she opened a karaoke club. She returned to Orange County in 2009 where she still occasionally performs.
NGAN KHOI CHORUS
Ngan Khoi Chorus is a Vietnamese folk and classical chorus active since its formation in Orange County in 1989. Ngan Khoi is also a non-profit that nurtures young talent with its Ngan Khoi Children Choir and the Sóng Xanh.
NGHIEM PHU PHI
Nghiêm Phú Phi was a composer born in Saigon in 1930. At nineteen he moved to France to study music. He returned to Saigon in 1954. He fled Vietnam in 1985 and settled in Orange County. He died in 2008.
Ngọc Bích is a singer who was hailed in some quarters as “Nu Hoang Nhac Tre.” Ngọc Bích was born in 1955 to Viet Hung and Ngọc Nuoi, two famous cai luong performers. She was the fourth of sixth children. She turned from cai luong to western pop and at the age of thirteen formed a band with her siblings Ngoc Chau, Ngoc Quy, Viet Nang, and Viet Tai, called the Crazy Dogs, in which she sang lead. The Crazy Dogs, like many cover bands, performed primarily for American military personnel at Saigon venues like Au Baccara, Au Ma Cabane, and Sherwood Forest.
On the day Saigon fell, most of her family were evacuated by helicopter, Ngọc Bích, her brother Viet Sinh, and their mother remained. With her western audience gone, she turned to cai luong and performed alongside her mother in the Thanh Nga Folk Opera Theater Troupe. There, she met actor Thanh Sang, whom she later married — although they divorced the following year. Ngọc Bích began performing pop music again in the early 1980s and she specialized in covers of ABBA tunes.
In 1990, Ngọc Bích and other members of her family moved to the US to reunite with those who’d left in 1975. Ngọc Bích’s youngest son remained in Vietnam with his father while her son from a second marriage accompanied her. It was upon arrival in the US that Ngọc Bích’s mother learned that Viet Hung had remarried.
Ngọc Bích performed to a capacity audience at Dem Dong Phuong in Santa Ana and afterward became a regular performer at Diamond in Fullerton. She recorded a number of medleys and duets for various labels as well as solo albums. In 1991, she appeared twice on Paris By Night. Between 1994 and ’97 she appeared six times on Mây Productions‘ Hollywood Night series. After the closure of Diamond, she moved to Ritz in Anaheim, where she performed weekly for the remainder of the decade.
Viet Nang died in 2000, a loss which was compounded by the deaths, shortly after, of her father and mother. Bích retired from the stage and for the next three years worked at a computer company. When it went bankrupt, she began performing again to audiences throughout the US and in Vietnam, where, she appeared on Mot Thoang Saigon.
Ngọc Lan was a singer known for her interpretations of French songs. She was born Maria Le Thanh Lan in Nha Trang in 1956 and was the fourth in a family of twelve children. Her family left Vietnam and settled first in Minnesota. To avoid confusion with Vietnamese singer Thanh Lan, she adopted the stage name, “Ngọc Lan.” She moved to Metro Los Angeles in 1982 where she was discovered by promoter Ngoc Chanh, who signed her to an exclusive contract at Anaheim‘s Ritz Nightclub. She released her debut, Tieng Hat Ngoc Lan, in 1986. She took a break from performing and recording in 1992, following the shooting death of one of her sisters during a robbery. In 1994, she married performer Kelvin Khoa and returned, afterward, to the stage — although it was soon after revealed that she suffered from multiple sclerosis. She continued performing, however, until 1998. She died in 2001 at the age of 44.
Ngoc Nguoi is a cai luong singer from Saigon. There, she sang with the prestigious Thieng Chuong company. She later relocated to Westminster.
Nhat Truong, also known as Tran Thien Thanh, was a famous nhac vang singer, songwriter, filmmaker, and actor. He was born in 1942 in Phan Thiet and, after high school, moved to Saigon to enroll in a military academy. In 1965 we found a job as a high school teacher before forming the Nhat Truong Quartet with vocalists Diem Chi, Nhu Thuy, and Van Quynh. He also regularly appeared on the television series, Dai Truyen Hinh Viet Nam. Nhat Truong directed two films, Tren Dinh Mua Dong (1972) and Mong Thuong (1974), both of which starred Thanh Lan, his frequent co-star from television.
After the Fall of Saigon, Nhat Truong was banned from performing by the communist regime. In 1984, he was given permission to resume but remained silent. In 1993, he moved to Westminster and married singer My Lan. He died from lung cancer in 2005 at the age of 63.
Như Loan is a singer who rose to prominence in the 2000s on Paris By Night. She was born Le Thi Như Loan in 1981 in Bao Loc, Vietnam. She and her family moved to Orange County in the early 1990s, when she was eleven years old. In 2001, she began an exclusive engagement with Thuy Nga Paris and made her debut on Paris By Night. Her debut solo recording was “Men Say Tinh Ai,” recorded in 2002. In the years that followed, she recorded duets with many performers before releasing her full-length solo debut, Tinh Lang Cam, in 2006.
Nhu Mai is one of the most famous of the 1980s Vietnamese divas. Nhu Mai was born in 1960 in Vietnam. In 1980, she left in a boat and arrived at a refugee camp in Thailand. She came to the US the following year, where she settled in Orange County and performed with a wedding and party band. It was her first experience as a singer outside of the church. In 1983, she went to Lang Van in Santa Ana and sang “Thuyền Viễn Xứ” at an open mic night. The owner hired her as a regular performer and, that same year, she recorded her debut studio album, Mộng Ban Đầu. Its popularity led to collaborations with numerous labels and performers as well as performances at Au Baccara and Diamond.
In 1986, she accepted Quoc Si’s invitation to be the lead singer in The Magic. Their working relationship became a romantic one and as Nhu Mai & the Magic, the band were one of the biggest Vietnamese American groups of the era. In 1989, Nhu Mai & the Magic toured Europe as part of a Vietnamese revue. More tours, high-profile performances and collaborations, and solo albums followed — eventually on her own production label. The Magic Band, however, fell apart in the 1990s, and Quoc Is and Nhu Mai ended both their professional and romantic relationship.
Nhu Mai Productions became Nhu Mai Entertainment and more albums and appearances followed until around 2003 when Nhu Mai appeared on Mùa Hè Rực Rỡ. Today Nhu Mai lives, mostly retired, in West Anaheim.
Nia Peeples (née Virenia Peeples) is a singer and actress. As an actress, she came to fame on the series Fame. She has since appeared in Pretty Little Liars, The Young and the Restless, and Walker, Texas Ranger. Peeples was born in Hollywood to a Filipina flamenco dancer, Elizabeth Joan (née Rubic) and Robert Eugene Peeples, a white man from Mississippi. Peeples attended UCLA. In 1988, she had a hit with the song, “Trouble.” Peebles now lives in Malibu.
Nichkhun Buck Horvejkul was born in Rancho Cucamonga in 1988. After completing high school he briefly coached the Rosemead High School badminton team. He joined the K-Pop band 2PM in 2008.
Nicole Yongju Jung was born in 1991 in Los Angeles and went to school in Glendale. She later moved to Korea and became a member of the K-Pop group, Kara, in 2007. In 2014 she embarked on a solo career, releasing her debut, First Romance, in 2014.
NOBUKU JOANNE MIYAMOTO
Nobuko JoAnne Miyamoto is a dancer, activist, and musician. She was born in Los Angeles in 1939. Her family worked as agricultural laborers in Idaho and Utah during World War II, thus avoiding internment. They returned to Los Angeles after the war’s conclusion. As a child, Miyamoto studied dance and appeared as a dancer (credited as Joanne Miya) in the films, The King and I (1955), Les Girls (1956), and West Side Story (1961). She also danced in the Broadway production of Flower Drum Song (1958) and regularly appeared on ABC‘s Arrest & Trial.
She became politically active in the 1960s and worked with director Antonello Branca on Seize the Time, a film about the Black Panthers. At a meeting of Asian Americans for Action, she met Chris Iijima and in 1970, they began to perform protest music together as Chris and Jo. Joined by “Charlie” Chin, they became Yellow Peril. Back in Los Angeles, she formed the band Warriors of the Rainbow with Benny Yee and the two collaborated on a musical called Chop Suey for her newly-formed arts organization, Great Leap, in 1978. She later released solo albums Best of Both Worlds and To All Relations.
Norma Cecilia Tanega was a folk-pop singer-songwriter and painter. She was born in Vallejo in 1939. Her mother was Panamanian and her father, a Filipino musician. Her family moved to Long Beach when she was two years old. She began taking piano lessons when she was nine. When she was sixteen, her paintings were exhibited locally, she was performing at classical piano recitals, and writing poetry. She enrolled at Scripps College on a scholarship and completed her schooling at Claremont Graduate School in 1962.
After graduation, she backpacked around Europe and became involved in anti-war activism. She released her album, Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog, and single of the same name, in 1966. She also wrote songs for other musicians, including Dusty Springfield, with whom she was in a romantic partnership for five years. Her only other solo album was 1971’s Don’t Think It Will Hurt If You Smile.
In 1972, after having lived in London and New York City, Tanega moved back to Claremont where she continued to paint, compose, and perform music. In the 1990s Tanega founded the group hybridVigor with Mike Henderson (and later joined by Rebecca Jamm). In 1998 Tanega formed the Latin Lizards with Robert Grajeda. In the 2000s, she formed Baboonz with Tom Skelly and Mario Verlangieri. Her song, “You’re Dead,” was used as the theme of the film and television program based on it, What We Do in the Shadows. Tanega died in 2019, at the age of 80.
Singer NyaLi was born Enya Lim in Singapore. She graduated with a degree in social sciences from the National University of Singapore before deciding on a different path which led her to emigrate and enroll at the Berklee College of Music to major in vocal performance. She released her debut single, “Stuck,” in 2015.
Olive Kimoto is a multi-instrumentalist, graphic designer, and DJ. Her music is influenced by ethereal and shoegaze whilst looking ahead to the future and as a DJ on NTS Radio, she explores the intersection between those trends on her program, Liquid Mirror.
Olivia Isabel Rodrigo is a singer who was born in Murrieta in 2003. Her father is Filipino and her mother German and Irish. As a child, she took lessons in singing, piano, and acting. She later acted in several Disney series, for which she moved to Los Angeles. She released her debut single, “Drivers [sic] License” in 2021. Her debut album, Sour, followed.
On Ensemble is a taiko fusion group comprised of Abe Lagrimas Jr., Tien Hunter-Ishikawa, Masato “Man” Baba, and Shoji Kameda.
Paul Susumu Togawa was born on 3 September 1932 in the Maravilla Park section of East Los Angeles to poet Akira Togawa and his wife, Kimi. The family moved to Boyle Heights during that neighborhood’s Japanese heyday. From 1942-’45, the Togawa family was incarcerated at a Japanese concentration camp in Poston, Arizona, where he developed an interest in drums. Togawa graduated from Roosevelt High in 1950. He joined Lionel Hampton’s band in 1952 and remained there until he was drafted into the US Army. After the Korean War, he returned to Los Angeles. He released several albums and performed with jazz giants including Miles Davis, Art Pepper, and Cal Tjader. He also performed bit parts in several films and television series. He died on 20 April 2018.
PAULINE MU (of ALPINE DECLINE)
Alpine Decline is a Beijing-based duo founded in Echo Park in 2010. Both members, Jonathan Zeitlin (vocals and guitar) and Pauline Mu (drums) were previously in the quartet, Mezzanine Owls. The band relocated to China in 2011.
Pedro Gil is a five-piece from Los Angeles the line-up of which includes Czara (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Andrew (guitar, bass, keyboards), Carlo (guitar, vocals), Justin (bass), and Mario (drums).
PERFECTO DE CASTRO
Perfecto De Castro, or “Perf” for short, is a classical and flamenco guitarist. He began studying guitar at the age of thirteen. He was formerly the lead guitarist in Rivermaya and Triaxis as well as a collaborator with rapper Francis Magalona and the band, Wolfgang. In 2004, he moved to Los Angeles where he continues to perform and record as well as teach guitar.
Having written roughly 1,000 songs, Phạm Duy was Vietnam’s most prolific songwriter. His musical career spanned more than seven decades. He was born Phạm Duy Cẩn in Hanoi in 1921, then still part of French Indochina. After the fall of Saigon, he fled the country and settled in Midway City. The ban on his music in Vietnam was finally lifted in 2005. Phạm Duy and his son, Duy Quang, returned to Vietnam that year. Phạm Duy died in 2013, one month after his son.
Phạm Phi Nhung was a Vietnamese American philanthropist and singer who specialized in dân ca and trữ tình. She was born on 10 April 1970 in Pleiku to a Vietnamese mother and an American serviceman father. She grew up poor, raised only by her mother, and left school after the 6th grade. Phạm’s mother died in 1982 and she went to live with her grandparents. She emigrated to the US in 1989 and initially settled in Tampa. There, she met Trizzie Phuong Trinh, who encouraged her to pursue a career as a singer, which she did after relocating to Orange County in 1993. She returned to Vietnam in 2005, where she continued to sing and began working as a comedian and actress. She was hospitalized in April 2021 with COVID-19 and shed died of complications from the disease on 28 September 2021.
Philip Huy is a singer. He was born Nguyễn Chí Hùng in Vung Tau in 1968. He was the youngest in a family of seven children. In 1975, his family, minus his father, came to the US, where they lived in Kentucky, Ohio, and Mississippi before finally settling in Metro Los Angeles in 1978. Huy’s older sister, Tuyet Nhung, began singing professionally and during his final year at California State University, Long Beach, Huy dropped out to father in her footsteps. His sister was a regular performer at CAN and it was there that Philip Huy was discovered. His 1994 debut album, Without You, shared its title with a song by Harry Nilsson that Huy covered. He many times sang English language covers on Hollywood Night and Paris By Night and performed to Vietnamese audiences around the world before abruptly retiring from performance in 1996. After working as an accountant, Philip Huy returned to performing in 2000, with a performance on Chiến Tranh Và Hòa Bình, after which he became a stable of Asia Entertainment’s programs.
PHUONG HONG QUE
Singer Phương Hồng Quế was born Nguyễn Thị Quế in Saigon in 1953. She was one of five daughters born to a prominent tailor and his wife. Around the age of ten, she joined the singing troupe, Viet Nhi, which also included Kim Loan, Phuong Hoai Tam, Phuong Hong Hanh, and Phuong Hong Ngoc. She performed “Mot Nguoi Di” on television in 1968. Thereafter, Phương Hồng Quế became one of South Vietnam’s most famous singers, performing throughout Vietnam and recording for various labels.
After the Fall of Saigon, Phương Hồng Quế was subject to restrictions from the communist regime. She turned to selling goods from a small kiosk and eventually resumed performing as part of ensembles as “Hong Que.” Eventually, In 1979, Phương Hồng Quế married a physician and they had two children. Eventually, she was granted the right to perform in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and she joined the Kim Cuong singing troupe. In 1986, she opened Phuong Hong Restaurant.
In 1991, Phương Hồng Quế made the decision to move to Orange County with her mother, younger sister, and children. Her husband of twelve years remained in Vietnam. Phương Hồng Quế resumed her singing career, performing on Paris By Night and later, with Asia Productions. She also formed PHQ Productions, through which she’s released her solo albums. Since 1992, she’s also operated a travel agency, a flower shop (Garden Grove’s Melody Flowers), and an export/import business. She lives in Fountain Valley.
Phượng Liên is a cải lương performer who lives in Orange County. She was born Lữ Phụng Liên in An Giang Province in 1947. Her working-class parents tried, unsuccessfully, to steer her away from music but in her teenage years, she joined a pop group, Tây Đô, as the lead singer. With the permission of her parents, cải lương performer Phước Hậu took her under his wing. By eighteen, Phượng Liên was living in Saigon and performing with troupes like Dạ Lý Hương, Phương Quang, Sài Gòn 1, Thái Dương, Tinh Hoa, and Tuấn Kiệt. She grew to be one of the country’s most famous singers, given the informal title, “Ông Hoàng Đĩa Nhựa.” Phượng Liên moved to Metro Los Angeles in 1993 where she continued to perform cải lương, as well as throughout North American and Europe.
Phuong Mai is a performer of cải lương and hồ quảng. She was born in South Vietnam in 1956. She was born into a theatrically inclined family and began acting at the age of five in the 1961 film, Ảo Ảnh. More films and plays followed. In 1979, Phuong Mai and her husband left Vietnam and moved to West Germany. She began singing pop music in the mid-1980s and appeared on Paris By Night not long after. Phuong Mai’s marriage ended after twenty years and she moved to Metro Los Angeles, where she continued to perform and record with various labels. She later opened a restaurant, Garden Grove’s Quán Hủ Tiếu Phượng Mai, and gave birth to a singer, Thao Suong.
Pillowcase 203 are a Los Angeles band, the members of which are Darius A, Jun German, Dex Baluyot, and Daniel Perez. According to their Facebook page, their influences include Nirvana, Metallica, Yani, The Beatles, Dishwalla, Foo Fighters, Nora Aunor, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Matchbox 20, and Nickelback — and they will “GrungeRock the Alternative Pop shit of you!” [?]
Prateek Rajagopal is an Oman-born Indian composer and guitarist. He moved from Oman at the age of eighteen to India. He now resides in Los Angeles.
Prism were a dance band that featured James Ibusuki.
Projec7 are a blues rock-reggae group founded in 2011 and comprised of Lee (bass guitar), Fin (guitar), EJ (saxophone), and Mason (drums).
The Prophets were a ten-piece dance band that played R&B on the dance circuit beginning in 1969. Venues they played included Rodger Young Auditorium, Parkview Women’s Club, and they had stints as the house band at Japanese Village and Deer Park. Six of the members were Japanese: David Honjio (trumpet and vocals), Denis Hotta (bass), Ken Ito (keyboards), Michael Hotta (guitar), Ricky Ichimura (drums), and Tom Sunjka (vocals). The rest of the members were Johnny Sanchez (lead vocals), Gordon Young (trombone), John Hubbard (vocals), and Johnny Torigoe (saxophone). In 1971, the members split into two groups: The U.N. and Carry On.
MX. PUJA SINGH
Puja Singh Titchkosky is an Indian Canadian musician and yoga instructor born in Vancouver and based in Los Angeles. They released their first single, “We Are Everywhere,” in 2021.
Quynh Huong is a singer and hostess of radio and television programs. She was born Lê Thị Quỳnh Dao in Saigon in 1960. Quynh Huong is the third of five children born to singer Thai Thanh and filmmaker Le Quynh. Her older sister, Y Lan, is also a singer. Her father left the family around 1965 and moved to Orange County ten years later. In 1980, the youngest child, Lê Đại, moved to France. In 1985, most of the family moved to Orange County (Y Lan moved to Houston). She adopted her stage name at 33, to avoid confusion with singer Quynh Giao (whose name is pronounced the same as Quỳnh Dao in Vietnamese). She appeared on numerous productions of Asia Entertainment, both in collaboration with others and as a solo performer. She released her solo debut, Kỷ Niệm, in 1996 through Y Lan Productions. At the peak of her popularity, she was a featured performer at Queen Bee Nightclub in Stanton and toured throughout North America and Europe. She later became the co-host of Saigon Cali Radio Hai Ngoai on 106.3 FM and a correspondent for Little Saigon Television.
Black-Native American-Afghan musician Sohiala Rayne Nelson (aka Rainbow) was born and raised in Moreno Valley.
Ram Reurn is a Cambodian singer who has, in the past, performed at Golden Villa in Cambodia Town.
Relocation Whitewash is a band that featured Pat Yoshinaga.
Keyboardist, arranger, and composer Renny Goh was born and raised in Singapore where her parents agreed to allow her to pursue a career in music as long as she earned a degree in something she could fall back on. Goh got a degree in sociology. Goh was classically trained but wanted to move into jazz. Her fusion band, Mr. Giant, released an EP, Face to Face, in 2017.
Any Rithy Plong is a singer popular in the Cambodian-Angeleno community. She was born in Phnom Penh where she went to school at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Chey Chumneas. She later moved near Long Beach’s Cambodia Town. She was married to Chan Kiry but they divorced in 2008. She had a son in 2010. She has performed at Cambodian cabarets including DH, Golden Villa, La Lune Imperial, and Legend.
Riv3r is a power trio that features Dale Bacuno (guitar), Dennis Diaz (vocals, bass), and Francis Nuega (drums). They formed in 2017 as a ’90s cover band, brought together, in part, by an intense and shared love of Incubus.
Robin Martin Fernandez Nievera is a Filipino singer-songwriter. He was the eldest child born to singers Martin Nievera and Pops Fernandez. His career started when he became a VJ in 2010. In college, he sang with an indie rock band. In 2012, he released his debut, the blues-rock Overwait. He now lives in Los Angeles.
Rock Stallion are a Filipino rock band that covers classic rock hits by bands like AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Journey, and Led Zeppelin. Their line-up includes guitarist “Perf” De Castro, singer Raffy Mendoza, bassist Marc Yap, and drummer John Medina.
Romaly is a Cambodian singer who has performed, in the past, at Golden Villa in Cambodia Town.
Musician Rona Rapadas has recorded professionally as Tarsier for several projects. First was the duo, Healamonster & Tarsier, which released three albums in the early 2000s. Next was Alias & Tarsier, which released Brookland / Oaklyn in 2006. In 2017 and ’18 Rapadas released two EPs as half of the duo r.r. barbadas, Wet Hair, and First Step. In 2017, she appeared as a guest on L-Sedition‘s “Usual Reaction.”
RUN RIVER NORTH
Run River North formed as Monsters Calling Home in 2011. The line-up is comprised of Daniel Chae (violin, guitar), John Chong (drums), Joe Chun (bass), Alex Hwang (lead vocals), Sally Kang (keyboards), and Jennifer Rim (violin). They released their debut album, Run River North, in 2014.
Composer and tabla player Salar Nader also performs as Salar System. He was born in Hamburg to Afghan refugees. The family emigrated to Queens and then relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. He began touring in 2007 as part of several projects.
Sandra “Sandy Beaches” Vu was born in Orange County. She played flute on Giant Drag‘s “Hearts and Unicorns” in 2005. She joined Midnight Movies and appeared on their second and final album, Lion The Girl. She began recording as Sisu and released the single, “Sharp Teeth” in 2010. She was the drummer for Dum Dum Girls from 2011-2015 but is now focused on Sisu.
Saori Mitome is a Japanese American stylist and customer as well as one-half of Les Sewing Sisters.
Cherry Glazzer are a Los Angeles band, the name of which is inspired by local public radio host, Cherry Glaser. The band are currently comprised of Sasami Ashworth (keyboards), Clementine Creevy (guitar and vocals), and Tabor Allen (percussion), the latter of whom previously played with Ashworth in Dirt Dress. Multi-instrumentalist Ashworth studied at the Eastman School of Music and in addition to her duties with Cherry Glazzer, has composed music for films and other projects. In 2018, she went solo as Sasami. She released a solo album, Sasami, in 2019.
Scott Nagatani is a composer and producer. He started playing piano at five. He initially studied classical music but later expanded into jazz, rock, and soul. He played piano on 1982’s Back to Back, by Chris Iijima and Charlie Chin. He has scored numerous films since the 1980s, mostly documentaries, shorts, and documentary shorts. He also appeared, uncredited, as a piano player in 1989’s Black Rain.
Uyghur musician Sebi came to Los Angeles in 2016 to enroll in the Los Angeles Recording School. He was raised on an eclectic musical diet of Bollywood scores, opera, and R&B.
Seksu Roba were an electronic duo active from 2000-2005 who drew on exotica, synthpunk, and shibuya-kei to make something that sounded a bit in line with other so-called “electroclash” bands of the day. The members were designer/vocalist/synth player Lun*na Menoh and Classically trained producer/theremin-player Sukho Kevin Lee. They released two albums, Seksu Roba (Crippled Dick Hot Wax!, 2000) and Pleasure Vibrations (Eenie Meenie Records, 2003). Lee has also played with Damo Suzuki’s Network. Menoh has gone on to perform in Jean Paul Yamamoto (2005-2008) and pop musique concrète duo, Les Sewing Sisters.
SHAO JEAN SIM
Shao Jean Sim was born and raised in Singapore. Her musical education began with the guitar and later expanded to guitar. Like her older brother, she moved to the US to attend the Berklee College of Music. There, she studied contemporary writing and production. She moved to Los Angeles in 2016. In 2017, she released an EP titled Awaken.
Singer Sheeba (née Sheeba Alam) began singing when she was fifteen. She was born in Chicago to two Pakistani immigrants. Raised by Christians, at eighteen she performed “Jesus Loves Me” on the TBN talent show, Inspiration Sensation. She made her recording debut with the single, “So Good.”
SHER’E THU THUY
Sher’e Thu Thuy, usually billed professionally as Sher’e, is a singer who was one of the first Vietnamese performers to record Euro Disco and perhaps the first to record original material in the Vietnamese New Wave style. She was born Thu Thuy in Saigon in 1952. She was the fourth of nine children born into an affluent family. Her father was the owner and CEO of one of South Vietnam’s most prolific import/export companies, Vopco.
Sher’e began performing professionally at the age of fifteen (as “Sandy”) with her brother, Manh Ha, in The Mavericks at Bien Hoa, a venue that catered to US military personnel. Thu Thuy left Vietnam in 1970 and came to Southern California, where she married James Roy Wycoff and embarked on a career as an actress, appearing, as a result, on several television programs and films.
In 1983, Thu Thuy returned to music with her brothers, Manh Ha and Alan Nguyen and musician Trung Nghia into The Survivors. After performing the Vietnamese cabaret circuit for several years, Thu Thuy when solo.
She’re formed her one production company, TT Productions, and in 1985 released her solo debut, Nu Hon Dau (First Kiss). In 1987, she released the Vietnamese New Wave/Eurodisco-style “Gonna Lose My Heart,” which she’d co-written with her brother, Alan. It was a surprise hit — becoming especially popular in Hong Kong, where it was a Top 10 hit despite widespread bootlegging. On the eve of a scheduled music video shoot, Sher’e Thu Thy seriously was injured in a car collision. Once recovered, Sher’e Thu Thy returned with another song written with her brother, “It’s Only You.” Both singles were included on her album, Chi Minh Anh (It’s Only You), released in 1988. The video premiered on KSCI-TV Channel 18. In 1989, she released Prisoner Of Love. In 1990, she followed with Bring My Heart To Light. After a 1991 performance with Phuong Loan and Y Lan, she mysteriously retired from the industry.
Sher’e finally returned, after a two-decade absence, in 2020 with Dem Nay. It featured a track, “Solitaire,” co-written, like earlier hits, with her brother, Alan. In an interview on 106.3 FM‘s Bang Chau, Sher’e discussed her departure from the limelight, pointing to health and financial problems. She returned to the stage at Bleu Nightclub in 2010 and in 2013 performed a week-long engagement at the Whiskey A Go Go.
Nakane Shihori (中根しほり), known professionally as Shihori, is a singer, songwriter, and lyricist. She has also released music under the name Sena (瀬名). She was born on 4 September 1980. Deaf in one ear and autistic, her childhood was a difficult one, but her mother was always supportive. When she was 21, she moved to Tokyo. Her debut album was Life like a wild flower (2006). She had her first Top 5 hit with “Neverending Wonderland.” After some success in Japan, she moved to New York in 2018 and then relocated to Los Angeles in 2021.
Shinichiro “Shin” Kawasaki is a composer who was born in Toyama, Japan. In 1999, he moved to Los Angeles where he played with Visiting Violette and co-founded the record label, Los Desnudos. In 2005, he married actress Keiko Agena. He released his debut solo album in 2010. For the better part of a decade, he hosted jam sessions at Chinatown‘s Grand Star Jazz Club.
Shiro Tomita is a Woodland Hills-based guitarist. He specializes in classical, flamenco, and rock. He released an album of covers titled Crossroads of Solitude.
Solid (솔리드) were a Korean American R&B group comprised of producer Jae Chong (정재윤), singer George Han Kim (김조한), and rapper John Lee (이준). All were from Orange County. Kim was born in Atlanta and moved with his family to Orange County in 1986. There, he and Lee met one another at the Fountain Valley Library. Chong and Lee knew one another from church. They were mentored by Taiwanese Irvine group, L.A. Boyz. They made their live debut in Seoul in 1993. They released four studio albums in the 1990s: Give Me a Chance (1993), The Magic Of 8 Ball (1995), light camera action! (1996), and Solidate (1997). Their song, “Holding the End of the Night” (이밤의 끝을 잡고), was a huge hit in Korea, and was followed by “My Only Friend” (나만의 친구), “You are My First and Last” (처음이자 마지막이야), and “Meant to Be” (천생연분). The group went on hiatus in 1997 and the three pursued other careers. George Kim remained in Korea and pursued a solo career. Jae Chong pursued a career as a music producer. John Lee went into real estate. In 2018, Solid reunited and released Into the Light (2018).
SOMETHING CAME UP
Something Came Up is a Pinoy punk/alternative/progressive band based in Los Angeles. They were formed by cousins Francis Larena (guitar), Mike Miguel (drums), and Reeve Mirabueno (bass). They made their live debut with Larena, Mirabueno, Miguel, and Prince Geronimo (vocals). Winston Lagera (guitar) was recruited next. After drummer Mike Miguel left, he was replaced by Meryl Melquiades. Lagera left and was replaced by Phao Sanchez.
Son Ca is a singer. She was born Nguyen Thi Tuyet Nga in 1953 in Saigon. She was the eldest of six children. She entered the University of Saigon, School of Law in 1971. Whilst there, she also took studied at Quoc Gia Am Nhac, Saigon Conservatory of Music. She adopted the stage name “Song Ca” and made her debut as a singer at Maxim’s Cabaret in Saigon. Soon after, she appeared regularly on television. Her studio debut was released in 1974. Joined by Bui Thien, they became one of the most popular duos in South Vietnam. Son Ca married in 1976 and gave birth to a daughter in ’77.
In 1979, Song Ca, her husband, and daughter fled Vietnam by boat and spent six months in a refugee camp in Thailand. In 1980, they moved to San Jose. In 1981, they relocated to Houston where they worked at a gas station. In 1984, the family again moved, this time to Orange County, where Son Ca recorded a new studio album, Tiếng Hát Sơn Ca Hải Ngoại. Son Ca was incredibly prolific, afterward, releasing more than a dozen albums in the next six years and performing in North America, Europe, and Australia. Son Ca divorced her husband in 1990. In 1995, she married a Vietnamese Australian and moved to Brisbane.
The Squaaares are a trio comprised of Judy (vocals and bass guitar), Makris de Leon (drums), and Carloww (guitar).
Stanley Huang (黃立行), born in 1974, was one third of the Irvine-born pop trio, LA Boyz. After that group’s dissolution, he went on to release six mandopop albums in the 2000s: Your Side (妳身邊) (2000), Circus Monkey (馬戲團猴子) (2001), Stan Up (2002), Shades of my Mind (黑的意念) (2004), Atheist Like Me (無神論) (2007), and We All Lay Down in the End (最後只好躺下來) (2008).
Stella Tran is a vocalist, musician, and songwriter from Monterey Park. She has collaborated with Jeremy Wrenn of Airiel; Scott Cortez of Lovesliescrushing, Polykroma, and Transient Stellar; and Allan Kingdom of The Siddeleys.
STEVEN CHEN (of AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT)
Steven Chen joined the rock band Airborne Toxic Event in 2006. They released their self-titled debut in 2008.
Steve Lee is the younger brother of comedian Bobby Lee. He previously performed as Quangou both solo and in the duo, Noblehops. He’s currently known as SteeBee WeeBee as part of the group, Mangchi.
SUE JIN KIM
Sue Jin Kim is an “acoustic soul” singer who has been performing live since at least 2006. She has often performed at Tuesday Night Project, in Little Tokyo, where she’s an associate artist. In 2008, she released her album, Worth the Tears. It was followed by I AM WORTHY, which was released in installments.
Suki Ewers sang harmonies in the band Opal before moving on to play keyboards, rhythm guitar, and bass in Mazzy Star. Left to form her own band, Anemone, in 1993. In 2008, she released a solo album, Kind Of Hazy.
SUKI SAN (of SECOND STILL)
Second Still sound very much like early Cocteau Twins. As Garlands is my favorite record by the latter, I don’t hold that against the former. Guitarist Ryan Walker and bassist Alex Hartman met in Los Angeles in 2007 and in 2011 relocated to New York City (Brooklyn, more precisely). There they met vocalist Suki San and formed Second Still in 2014. They relocated to Los Angeles in 2015 and the following year made their debut, with a cassette EP (naturally) in 2016.
Summerfling Memoirs are a trio that formed in Kalibo, Philippines but is now based in Los Angeles.
Suneye is an electronic duo comprised of Akiko and Hashim Bharoocha. Their music is influenced by city pop and synthfunk, which they also occasionally spin as the DJs at club nights billed as Tokyo City Nights. The couple also run Plant Bass Records.
In 1983, siblings Sher’e Thu Thuy, Manh Ha, Alan Nguyen, and musician Trung Nghia formed The Survivors in Burbank. They recruited other Vietnamese Americans, including Tuan Quang and Vy Van, into joining them as they performed the Vietnamese cabaret circuit of North Orange County. They performed at venues including Lang Van – Dem Mau Hong, the Ritz, and Saigon Cabaret. By 1985, however, Sher’e Thu Thuy had begun a solo career that would bring her fame in several countries.
Singer-songwriter Susie Suh was born in Los Angeles in 1980. She was born to Korean immigrants who came to the US in the 1960s to study. As a child, she performed American and Korean songs in a choir. In high school, Suh self-released a six-track EP. After graduating from Brown University with a Bachelor’s degree in English, she signed with Epic Records in 2003. Her debut, Susie Suh, was released in 2005. The Bakman Tapes followed in 2011.
SYNTH Heart are an electronic pop group founded in 2016 with the duo of Sharon Gagne and Elmo Ruiz.
Taikoproject is a taiko ensemble founded in 2000. The ensemble performs an explicitly Westernized fusion of taiko music, but one which has its fans in Japan. In 2005, they were the first American taiko ensemble to win at the Tokyo International Taiko Contest. They’ve collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Sean Paul, Mansour, Usher, and many others and make frequent appearances on American television programs.
Tangerine is a band comprised of Mariko Justad, Miro Justad, and Tony Kuhn. Having formed in Seattle in 2013, they relocated to Los Angeles in 2017.
Jazz pianist Tateng Katindig was born Eduardo Katindig Jr. in the Philippines to saxophonist Eddie Katindig and Remedios Henaez. After graduating from the College of Music of University of the Philippines he moved to the US in 2000 and now lives in Los Angeles.
Teresa Teng (鄧麗君) was a Taiwanese singer and Asian superstar. Despite her death at the age of 42, her career traversed four decades. With her covers of Japanese songs in Chinese (including Cantonese, Hokkein, and Mandarin), she is sometimes credited with helping to bridge the cultural gap between Taiwan, China, much of Southeast Asia, and their former colonizer, Japan (where known as テレサ・テン, she was especially popular). In 1979, after she was arrested trying to enter Japan on a bootleg passport (necessitated by China taking Taiwan’s seat at the UN), she moved to Los Angeles for a time and thus became, in my estimation at least, an Angeleno musician. She enrolled at UCLA and recorded an album, 甜蜜蜜, in Los Angeles. Three videos, too, were filmed on the campus. She left Los Angeles around 1982. She died in 1995.
Teri Kusumoto is a singer, songwriter, producer, and percussionist. In 1971, Kusumoto began singing in a garage band/dance band called Easy Livin’, with Duane Kamei (guitar), Michael Kosaka (bass), Ricki Miyake, and Dennis Yokotake. From 1979 to 1983, she performed and wrote with Hiroshima, appearing on the albums Hiroshima, Odori, and Third Generation.
Thai Chau was born Truong Chieu Thong in 1951 into a family of cai luong performers. His mother was actress Kim Nen and his father was vice president of the Kim Chung Cai Luong Theater Company. Thai Chau’s interests, however, were in Western pop and he began singing at cabarets when he was fifteen. A few years later he joined Ngoc Chanh’s Shotguns. He thereafter recorded with numerous labels in collaboration with many of South Vietnam’s best-known singers. By the 1970s, he, too, was one of South Vietnam’s most famous performers.
After the Fall of Saigon, he was subjected to numerous restrictions, including a ban on Western music, and so began performing vong co. When restrictions were eased in the early 1980s, Thai Chau resumed his career as a pop singer. Chau left Vietnam in 1991 and moved to Canada where he joined his mother. Afterward, he moved to Metro Los Angeles where he began performing publicly and recording for various labels and was a featured performer at Ritz. He also toured North America, Australia, and Europe.
Singer Thai Hien was born Pham Thi Thai Hien in Saigon in 1958, the eldest daughter of composer Pham Duy and singer Thai Hang. She began singing professionally at the age of thirteen and quickly became a popular pop singer in South Vietnam. In 1974, she replaced her sister-in-law Julie Quang as the lead female vocalist in The Dreamers.
After she came to the US, Thai Hien continued singing at home and for audiences in Australia and Europe. She released her first solo album, Hoa Thuong Nho Ai, in 1982. In 1987, she and her younger sister, Thai Thao, released a cover album of Euro Disco/Vietnamese New Wave songs. Thai Hien returned to Vietnam in 2005, to visit her repatriated father and older brother. In 2006, she performed at the Saigon Opera House.
Singer Thái Thanh was born in Hanoi in 1934, the youngest of five children. She joined the group, Ban Hop Ca Thang Long, when just five years old. In the 1950s, she and her siblings Pham Dinh Chuong and Thai Hang moved to South Vietnam where Thái Thanh became famous in her own right. She married actor Le Quynh in 1956. She had five children before they split up in 1965. Her daughters, Quynh Huong and Y Lan, would also become popular singers.
In 1985, Thái Thanh emigrated to Orange County and began releasing albums with Diem Xua Productions. She also toured North America, Australia, and Europe. In the 1990s, Thai Thanh, Duy Khanh, and Nghiem Phu Phi established a music school in Orange County. She retired from performance in 2002. She died, aged 85, on 17 March 2020.
Singer Thái Thảo was born Phạm Thị Thái Thảo in Saigon in 1961 to composer Pham Duy and singer Thai Hang. She was the fifth out of eight children. At the age of fourteen, most of her family moved to Florida before settling in Orange County in 1977. With the arrival of more family members, The Dreamers resumed in 1979, now based in Southern California and with Thai Thao as a new member. The Dreamers performed Euro Disco/Vietnamese New Wave for overseas Vietnamese audiences.
In 1984, Thai Thao married Tuan Ngoc. In 1985, Thai Thao began pursuing a solo career, recording for various labels, and headlining various Vietnamese cabarets such as Rex, Đêm Đông Phương, Diamond, Queen Bee, Saigon Cabaret, and Majestic. Thai Thao announcer her partial retirement from performance in 2004.
Thanh Hà is a singer from Da Nang, where she was born in 1969 to an Anglo-American soldier stationed in Vietnam, Bill Williams, and a Vietnamese mother. Williams was killed in the Vietnam War when Hà was two. After graduating from high school in Ho Chi Minh City, Ha and her mother relocated to Bataan, Philippines before settling in Utica, New York in 1991. Ha had sung publicly since she was a child but pursued it more seriously in the US, where she opened for Trizzie Phuong Trinh, who brought her to Little Saigon. She made her first professional recordings there and began performing regularly at Can Nightclub. She next joined Duc Huy’s act, Forever Young. In 1999, Ha retired from the stage and gave birth to a daughter, and moved to Houston. She returned to the stage, however, started her own production label, and in 2016 became a judge on Vietnamese television’s Tình Bolero.
THEE PUBLIC’S DEMAND
Thee Public’s Demand was a sansei dance band that featured Ronnie Eguchi.
Singer Thiện Khiêm was born Trần Thiện Khiêm in Saigon in 1972. As a child, she sang cai luong and vong co, and learned to play the dan tranh. At fourteen, she began regularly performing in Ho Chi Minh City concert halls. In 1995, her family emigrated to Orange County and Kim earned a degree in economics from the University of California, Irvine. She also began performing regularly at CAN and Ritz. In 1997, she signed a contract with Thuy Nga Paris, where she remained for five years, and during which time she released several studio albums. In 2002, she moved to Asia Entertainment. Kim is also a restaurateur who owns Phở Thiện Khiêm in Garden Grove.
Thiên Phú is a singer. He was born Viktor Lassley in 1972 in Saigon. He was the only child born to an American father and Vietnamese mother as was primarily raised in New Caledonia. His career as an entertainer began when he was sixteen and appeared as a backup dancer with Ngoc Lan. He began singing French songs in the early 1990s at Vietnamese cabarets in Orange County. He released his debut album, Tiec Nho, in 1998. Tours of North America, Australia, and Europe followed.
Phú’s grandmother, Marie Nguyen — who owned the famous Au Ma Cabane Cabaret in Saigon — died in 2000. Two of his friends and fellow performers, Ngoc Lan and Anh Tu, died not long after and Thiên Phú backed away from performing. He found work at a sushi restaurant in Newport Beach and graduated from California State University, Long Beach. with a degree in the arts. Phú returned to performance in 2008.
Thiên Trang was born Huỳnh Thị Hai in Saigon on 1 February 1951. She began her professional life as an actress, appearing in Điệu Ru Nước Mắt and Loan Mắt Nhung (both 1970). When she was eighteen, she began singing under the guidance of Anh Việt Thanh, who provided her stage name. She was next mentored by Châu Kỳ, who shepherded her into performances on television and radio. Her first recording was a version of “Trả Tôi Về.” By the early 1970s, she had recorded for several labels and performed at most of Saigon’s cabarets. In 1978, she left Vietnam aboard the ship, Huy Phong. Once settled in Orange County, she opened a French restaurant and became vegetarian before Anh Bằng coaxed her back into performing in 1987. She released several recordings in the 1990s at Asia Entertainment. Although she still performs occasionally, she found steady work in the office of a high school.
3 HEADED DOG
3 Headed Dog are a rock trio based in Laguna Niguel. The band’s line-up is composed of three Pinoy rock veterans: Danny Gonzalez (formerly of Lokomotiv), David Aguirre (formerly of Razorback), and Wolf Gemora (formerly of Wolfgang). In 2007, Aguirre and Gonzalez began performing together as A.D.D. In 2009, Gemora joined them and they became 3 Headed Dog. Their debut recording was an EP released in 2012.
THE THUY DUONG QUARTET
The Thuy Duong Quartet as a quartet, active at least as early as 1982, and comprised of siblings Minh Ngoc, Thuy-Hang, Vu Tien Dung, and Vu Tuan Duc. They were named after a type of tree that produces a melodious sound when the wind passes through its branches. They were still performing at least as late as 1995.
Thúy Vi is a singer and actress who was born Vũ Thị Thúy in Saigon in 1960. Her family came to Pennsylvania in 1975, where they remained until 1980 when they moved to Houston. There, Thúy Vi worked in the postal service, as she had in Pennsylvania, but began singing after work at her aunt’s business L’amour Café. In 1985, Thúy Vi moved to Orange County, where she recorded “Mây Lang Thang,” which appeared on a compilation on Thanh Lan, and on which Thuy Vi’s image adorned the album cover. She recorded her solo debut, Heartflash Tonight, in 1987. She afterward became a staple of Asia Entertainment and Paris By Night. In 1995, she co-starred in Charlie Nguyen‘s film, Thời Hùng Vương 18. Vi’s 1996 album, Men Tình, was released on Vi’s own label, Thuy Vi Musik. She went on to co-host the television program, Thúy Vi và Suối Nguồn Âm Nhạc. Thúy Vi lives in Fountain Valley.
TIENG TO DONG
Tiếng Tơ Đồng was a trio formed by Kim Tuoc, Mai Huong, and Quynh Giao. They performed nhac tien chien.
Stephanie Young Hwangwas born in 1989 in San Francisco and raised in Diamond Bar, where she attended Diamond Bar High School. In 2004 she joined K-pop bands Girls’ Generation-TTS and is currently based in Korea. She released her solo debut EP, I Just Wanna Dance, in 2016.
Timo Chen is a multi-instrumentalist from Arcadia who studied at the USC Community School of Performing Arts and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He has scored numerous advertisements, television programs, and films — including Jennifer Phang‘s 2015 film, Advantageous.
Timothy DeLaGhetto, also known as Traphik, was born in 1986 in Billings, Montana and raised in Paramount. After graduating from Paramount High School he attended California State University, Long Beach, from which he dropped out to pursue rapping and YouTube stardom. He released his debut, Rush Hour, in 2009.
TO CHAN PHONG
Singer Tô Chấn Phong was born in Da Lat in 1966 but was raised in Saigon. He was the second of six children. In 1979, his family fled Vietnam in a boat and they were robbed by pirates on several occasions before arriving in Malaysia. After nearly a year in the Philippines, his family arrived in Florida in 1980. In 1986, he relocated to Metro Los Angeles. He studied accounting and business in school but in 1990 sang a song, “”Hè 90,” in a video made by his friends. He released a solo album, Yêu Nhau Trong Mưa, in 1991. His forays into music led to a meeting with singer Khánh Hà and the two became romantically involved. In 1996, she gave birth to Tô Chấn Phong Jr. In 2007, he returned to Vietnam for the first time since fleeing in order to perform.
DJ and producer TOKiMONSTA was born Jennifer Lee and was raised in the South Bay city of Torrance. Lee was trained as a pianist and begin making music whilst a student at the University of California, Irvine. She graduated with a business degree and worked, for a time, as a video game producer. In 2010, Lee was invited to attend the Red Bull Music Academy in London, and she signed to Flying Lotus‘s Brainfeeder. She released her debut, Midnight Menu in 2010. In 2011 she released the Creature DreamsEP. In 2012, collaborating with Suzi Analogue as Analogue Monsta, she released Boom. Her second album, Hal Shadows, followed in 2013, which was in turn followed by Desiderium. In 2015 she was diagnosed with moyamoya — a rare, progressive cerebrovascular disorder.
Singer Tommy Ngô was born Ngô Quang Tùng in Đà Lạt, in 1971. He lived with his family in Saigon until 1975 at which point they relocated to the US. Ngô lived in Idaho for nineteen years before moving to Southern California. He married fellow entertainer Lynda Trang Đài. In 2013, the two starred together in the comedy, Bay Vao Coi Mong.
Tony Ashwin Kanal is best known as the bassist of the pop band No Doubt. He was born in London in 1970 and came to Anaheim when he was eleven. He joined No Doubt in 1991 and began a relationship with singer Gwen Stefani. During the band’s first hiatus, Kanal began collaborating as co-writer with other pop stars and production.
Toshiko Akiyoshi (秋吉敏子) is a Japanese Angeleno jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader. She was born on 12 December 1929 in Liaoyang, Manchuria. After her family returned to Japan, she was introduced to jazz with Teddy Wilson‘s recording of “Sweet Lorraine.” In 1952, she was discovered at a club in Ginza by Oscar Peterson who persuaded producer Norman Granz to record her. Her debut, Amazing Toshiko (released as Toshiko’s Piano in the US), was recorded with Herb Ellis on guitar, JC Heard on drums, and Ray Brown on double bass.
In 1956, Akiyoshi came to the US to study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. That same year she appeared on What’s My Line? She married saxophonist Charlie Mariano in 1959. They had a daughter named Michiru. They divorced in 1967. She married saxophonist Lew Tabackin in 1969. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1972. Her band released Kogun in 1974.
After a decade in Los Angeles, Akiyoshi and Tabackin moved to New York City in 1982. In 1984, she was the subject of the documentary Jazz Is My Native Language. In 1996, she published her autobiography, Life With Jazz. Her band played its final show in 2003 and its final album was released in 2004. Since then, she has focused on solo performance.
After singing primarily in Vietnamese venues for over a decade, TQ (née Nadine Nguyen) made her recording debut in 2012 with the Italo-inspired “Let’s Go to Tokyo.” She signed with ZYX Music, the well-known Eurodisco label.
TRACE is Trace Kim, daughter of Vietnamese legend Carol Kim. She began writing and recording her own compositions in 2013. Her debut was the EP, Low.
TRAN THAI HOA
Trần Thái Hòa is a singer. He was born in 1973 in Ban Mê Thuột. He was the third of four children born to a couple from Huế. In 1984, his father and oldest brother moved to the US. The family was reunited in 1993 in Southern California. Trần Thái Hòa attended school at Santa Ana College before transferring to San Diego State University where he majored in computer science. In 1997, however, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art.
It was during his time in college that Trần Thái Hòa began performing at Vietnamese coffee houses to earn an income. In 1999, he was recruited by Lệ Thu to perform with her at Majestic Nightclub in Huntington Beach. After a performance in San Jose, he was offered a recording contract with Thuy Nga. He made his Paris By Night debut in 2001.
TRISH THUY TRANG
Singer-songwriter Trish Thuy Trang was born Nguyễn Thùy Trang in 1980 in Saigon. She married in 2012. She has two children and founded the baby wear label, Scabib.
TRIZZIE PHUONG TRINH
Trizzie Phương Trinh is a singer born Nguyễn Thị Phương Trinh in Saigon, in 1966. When she was thirteen, she and her family resettled in the US. As a young performer, she was discovered by Quốc Sĩ of The Magic Band. In Little Saigon, she was a staple of nightclubs including Au Baccara, Club Rex, Diamond, and Majestic. In 2002, Phương Trinh made her acting debut in the Vietnamese miniseries, Sương Gió Biên Thùy. It was also that year that she married fellow singer, Bằng Kiều, although she divorced him in 2013 after discovering his affair with beauty queen Dương Mỹ Linh. She went on to establish several businesses including iTango Sports Bar and Lounge and Z Café House, in Garden Grove and Westminster, respectively. She also co-hosts Z-Talk.
Trường Hải was a Vietnamese singer-songwriter born 3 October 1938 in Sóc Trăng. At eighteen, he and musician Thanh Sơn moved to Saigon to pursue careers. In 1960, he won first place in a contest held on Radio Saigon with his rendition of “Gặp Nhau.” Soon after he performed saxophone in a cabaret band with Anh Quy, Song Ngoc, and Duy Khiem whilst also composing songs. His first hit was “Còn nhớ tôi không.” His composition, “Những chiều không có em,” was a hit for Hùng Cường. After the fall of Saigon, he sold musical instruments and performed in a vocal group with Hoàng Biểu. In 1979, he escaped with his wife and two children to a refugee camp in Indonesia before making their way to Orange County in 1980. In 1981, he founded Năm 1981, he founded Tâm Băng nhạc Trường Hải, one of the first overseas Vietnamese production labels. In 1986, he released a duet album with Giao Linh titled Khổ Qua. He divorced in the 1990s. In his final years, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. He died on 11 June 2021.
Tu Quyen is a singer. Quyen was born in Philadelphia in 1977, the eldest of six children. Her family moved often and she lived in Port Arthur, Sacramento, and Ontario, California. Whilst a student at California State University, Long Beach, she moved to Orange County and began recording for Eagle Productions. In 1995, her recording of “Nu Hong Mong Manh” was a hit with Vietnamese audiences everywhere and became a signature song. In the late 1990s, she had an exclusive arrangement with Ritz in Anaheim. She continues to be a popular performer on Paris By Night.
Tuấn Anh is a singer and entertainer whose flamboyant style and comedic wit puts him in a league with over-the-top stars like Boy George, Elton John, Liberace, and Walter Mercado. Tuấn Anh was born in 1948 into an affluent family in Saigon. He came to the US in 1979 and shortly thereafter began pursuing a career as a singer, which saw him perform for overseas Vietnamese audiences throughout North America, Australia, and Europe. Locally, he was a staple at Vietnamese cabarets like Caravelle, Ritz, Queen Bee, and Tu Do. Tuấn Anh started Tu Anh Productions in the 1980s. He continues to be a major concert draw and frequently appears on Paris By Night.
Tuấn Ngọc is a singer, the second oldest of seven children born to Lu Jian, all of whom became entertainers. Tuấn Ngọc was born Lữ Anh Tuấn in 1947 in Da Lat. He made his professional career at the age of four when he appeared on a national radio program. In the 1970s, Tuấn Ngọc performed American pop music in Saigon for American GIs both as a solo performer and as part of groups The Top Five and The Strawberry Four (which also included Duc Huy, Tung Giang, and Billy Shane). Tuấn Ngọc left Vietnam in 1975 and moved to Orange County. Tuan Ngoc recorded a couple of albums for Lang Van but, struggling to re-build his fanbase, moved to Hawaii in the mid-1980s. After a few years in exile, Tuấn Ngọc returned to Southern California and recorded a duet with Thai Hien for Diem Xua Productions in 1989. He has since then enjoyed a long career in and around Little Saigon. In 2019, he became the host of Vietnam’s Giọng hát Việt.
Tyga is a pop/Kardashian Rap (K-rap) star born Micheal Ray Stevenson in 1989. His stage name is an acronym for Thank You God Always. He was born to Vietnamese and Jamaican parents. He was engaged to Blac Chyna, who later married Rob Kardashian whilst Kardashian’s stepsister, Kylie Jenner, dated Tyga.
UCLA KYODO TAIKO
UCLA Kyodo Taiko, founded in 1990, is the oldest collegiate taiko ensemble in the US. The group was founded by Mark Honda at UCLA’s Nikkei Student Union. The ensemble gave its first major performance at Royce Hall in 1992. The group hosts an annual spring concert and are a staple at the NSU Cultural Night. UCLA Kyodo Taiko has performed at events including Nisei Week, the L.A. Tofu Festival, the Lotus Festival, and the US Sumo Open as well as at the Manzanar Pilgrimage.
Underdee are a rock band comprised of DADA Sapanghila (vocals), Gary Gimena (vocals, guitar), Paolo Cabalquinto (guitars), Rei Diamante (bass guitar and drums), Robert Ballesteros (drums), Ryan Libatique (keyboards).
United Rage are a Rage Against the Machine-inspired rock duo composed of Tadeoman and Clint Aquino. Their debut album is The Last Wave Will Burn.
UCR TAIKO ENSEMBLE
The UCR Taiko Ensemble was founded by students at the University of California, Riverside in 1999. It is led by Reverend Tom Kurai, a Zen Buddhist priest and the abbot of Sozenji Buddhist Temple in Montebello as well as a performing artist with the Los Angeles Music Center.
The Uptight was a band formed by siblings Anh Tú, Khánh Hà, and Thúy Anh in Saigon in 1972. After the fall of Saigon, The Uptight relocated to Southern California. From there, they performed for overseas Vietnamese in North America, Australia, and Europe. Khánh Hà went solo in 1981. In 1983, The Uptight added Lan Anh (drums) and Lưu Bích (vocals) to the line-up. In 1988, the members of The Uptight opened a nightclub, Chez Moi, in Alhambra. That same year, The Uptight performed on Paris By Night.
Uyanga Bold was born Uyanga Boldbaatar in Moscow, she’s also performed as Ella Ekko. Throat singer Mendbayar Jargalsaikhan (founder of and teacher at the International Khoomii School in Ulaanbaatar) performed at South Central‘s Coaxial Arts Foundation in 2018.
Vicky Farewell (née Vicky Nguyen) is a vocalist/keyboard player/composer from Orange County. She began learning classical piano at a young age. In the 2010s, she frequently recorded with Anderson .Paak. She released her debut, Sweet Company, in April 2022 on Mac DeMarco‘s label, Mac’s Record Label.
Visiting Violette was comprised of Lee Takasugi, Shin Kawasaki, and Glenn Suravech. The band was formed in 1992. They released their second album, A Hero’s Day, in 2002.
Vũ Công Khanh was born in Hanoi in 1954. For many years, he has lived and performed in Little Saigon. He moved to the US after the fall of Saigon. His first public performance was of “Cô Hàng Nước,” in 1978, in San Diego.
In the 1980s and ’90s, he recorded for many labels and released numerous solo albums and duets with artists like Ngọc Lan, Như Mai, Thanh Hà, and Ý Lan. He performed regularly at Diamond, Majestic, and Ritz as well as throughout North America, Australia, and Europe. In 2016, he finally made his debut on Paris By Night.
Pomona-based Pakistani rapper Waqqas (né Malik Awan) grew up listening to hip-hop and writing raps. His recording debut was a freestyle to Drake’s “Pound Cake” that he released on SoundCloud. He co-founded the collective, Bad Genre, with Reno Ludwiga, Regi Levi, iismaill, Cully Seville, and MV7RID.
WARRIORS OF THE RAINBOW
Warriors of the Rainbow was a fusion group formed by Nobuko Joanne Miyamoto (vocals) and Benny Yee (keyboards), formed in 1974. At various times the band included Alan Furutani, Bobby Farlice, Kenny Endo, and Russel Baba. In 1977, the band recorded four songs at Cherokee Studio: “Beckoning,” “New Moon,” “West to East,” and “From the Belly of a Monster.”
WE THE PEOPLE
We the People was a sansei dance band.
Singer (and now LASD crime analyst) William Hung garnered notoriety for his audition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” on the then-popular television competition program, American Idol. Hung was born in Hong Kong in 1983. His family moved to Van Nuys when he was eleven. At the time of his audition, he was studying civil engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Whether despite or because of his perceived lack of musical talent, his debut album, Inspiration, sold more than 200,000 copies. His second and last album, Miracle: Happy Summer From William Hung, released only a year later, sold considerably less.
Winfield Summit was a sansei dance band active in the 1970s and ’80s. They were active at least as early as 1971. One of the members, Dennis Noda, died in 2009. They sometimes played at The Phrog in Gardena.
Xella are an indie R&B band comprised of Andru Bautista (guitar), Michelle Villegas (lead vocals), Tiffany Perez (drums), Wynette Manacsa (guitar/backup vocals).
Ý Lan was born in Saigon in 1957 to Vietnamese singer, Thai Thanh, and actor, Le Quynh. She is the eldest of five children. In 1980, whilst pregnant with her second child, Lan and her husband escaped from Vietnam on a boat. They first settled in Houston and then relocated to Southern California, where she began performing professionally in 1989.
Ý Nhi is a Vietnamese singer and businesswoman. She was born into a family of entertainers in Saigon in 1966 or ’67. Her father was choreographer Lưu Hồng. Her mother is singer Mỹ Phương. On tour in Japan during the Fall of Saigon, she applied for asylum and remained in Japan until graduating high school.
In the late 1980s, Nhi moved to Metro Los Angeles where she continued to perform. She married singer Kenny Thai in 1990 and they settled in Irvine. She continued to perform until the late 1990s when she opened Saddleback Beauty Academy and Save Lots in Garden Grove.
Yukiko Matsuyama is a koto performer and composer. She was born in Osaka. At the age of nine, she enrolled at the Ikuta School of Koto. She received her professional certification and teaching credential in 1986. She moved to Los Angeles in 1993. She has recorded and released several albums since, including Kazaguruma (1999), Koto (2003), Tsubomi (2003), and Crème Brulée (2010).
Yeek is a Filipino musician originally from South Florida but now based in Los Angeles.
Yuki Yasuda is a 13 and 17-string koto player and instructor. She was born in Japan and began playing koto there when she was twelve. She later majored in koto at Takasaki Junior Arts College. She also received instruction from Kazu Sawai and Tadao Sawai. She later apprenticed at the Sawai Koto Institute. She and her husband, Atsushi Asano, formed the band Ten in 2005. Yasuda moved in New York in 2009 and relocated to Los Angeles in 2014. In 2016, she founded the LA Koto Ensemble.
Zip Code are a rock band comprised of Jojo, Reden, and Rendez Zipagan with Tim de Ramos and Jan Michael Bersam. They formed as Brownsugar in 2000.
Summer Sun: the Los Angeles Asian American Dance Scene
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3 thoughts on “Pan-Asian Metropolis — Asian Angeleno Musicians”
You’re amazing Eric and I REALLY enjoyed your work!
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Thank you so much, Kenny!