In a photo of her father, he is playing the violin. When Kim Anh was five and barely out of infancy, he passed away, saddling her mother with five mouths to feed. The only girl among her siblings, Kim Anh was used to standing up for herself and competing – sometimes tooth and nail – as much with her brothers as with her surroundings.
Kim Anh was born in Nha Trang (where no one liked, or even understood the appeal of rock & roll) in Vietnam during the tail end of the excruciating Vietnam war. She grew up in the chaotic post-war environment when the country was devoid of resources and had to rebuild itself. In 1979 while China and Cambodia were attempting to invade the country, Kim Anh discovered rock through Suzi Quatro – a bolt of lightning! Kim Anh started dreaming of performing, like her idol, in figure-hugging leather outfits on international stages in Paris, New York and London. In addition to being an all-consuming passion, music was also an outlet for emancipation in a quasi-feudal and male-dominated society at the time.
Running on pure instinct, with a built-in metronome, a powerful right hand scratching the chords (à la Pete Townshend from The Who) and an ear that allowed playing back any tune after only hearing it once, when her older brother started neglecting the guitar that their mother gave to him, Kim Anh took over ownership of it and started teaching herself how to play the guitar at the age of 9. And then, for no reason other than the pleasure of it, she also danced, played the drums and the bass. Every New Year’s Day, in the silence of the night, when the rest of her family was asleep, she would stay up all on her own to wait for the TV program that broadcast rock music. Her passion has never deserted her, and like an addiction, she lived and breathed music and dance from dawn to dusk.
Having obtained a bursary, she went on to attend Hue Pedagogical University. Holding on to an American dream, she graduated with a major in English. But rock and roll possessed Kim Anh, and she seemed like an alien among her professors and peers.
They were all prim and proper in traditional garb, except for Kim Anh,
clutching a guitar and clad in pants. In a society under the thumb of a controlling regime, she already stood out from the crowd…