5 Year Anniversary: 1993-1998
Arts and Culture

Cambodian Hailed as National Superstar

The sweet sounds of Meng Keo Pichda can be heard coming from television sets, radios, and cassette shops throughout the country.

December 5, 1997
For the last 10 years her popularity has been growing and now at 22 she is referred to as the superstar of     the nations music industry.
Meng Keo Pichda was destined to be a singing sensation. She grew up in a musically minded family and the guidance and careful teaching of her parents helped to develop her extraordinary singing talent. 

Her father is renowned as a master of the Khmer troh (violin) and her mother was also a popular traditional singer in the 1960s. 

"I always wanted to be a singer ...it feels natural when I sing on stage,"   she said recently. 

At the age of eight, Meng Keo Pichda rose to stardom by winning the prestigious Channel 10 national singing contest. For the next six years, she was awarded best female singer in Cambodia.

Meng Keo Pichida releases an album most months 
 She made her first recording at 14 and it sold out throughout Cambodia.

Meng Keo Pichda was not a teen-age one-hit wonder. She has produced over 50 CDs in her short career. In Cambodia, producing one CD a month is normal. Her latest CD, "Missing You," has sold over 5000 copies during the last three months.

On stage Meng Keo Pichda looks like a princess and mesmerizes audiences with a velvet soft voice. She sings with passion and tenderness and uses her voice as an instrument.

Her presence is enhanced by slow hand movements and facial expressions.

Glittering costumes and traditional jewelry add an exotic touch.

Differing from most Cambodian singers, Meng Keo Pichda has written most of her songs for the last two years.

"When I feel good I sit down and write," she said. She likes to sing about love and romance.

"I like to sing traditional Cambodian songs rather than dance music".

 By Andy Holloway

Circus Artistes Tumble for Fun

Under the burned-out rafters of the Tonle Bassac Theater, members of Cambodia’s national circus troupe are tumbling, leaping and diving to the thump of the drums, to the delight of the small group of curious onlookers who tap their feet to the bass rhythm.

December 10, 1997 
  The theater was badly damaged in a fire four years ago, but it still home to 300 artists who train here under   the auspices of the Department of the Performing Arts with help from Unesco.
Any audience is a welcome one for these acrobats, who aim to draw Cambodians back to the world of traditional dance, music and circus. "Khmer audiences are starving for more access to their own culture—we need to make them feel comfortable to go into a theater space again and make it cheap and accessible," says Unesco’s Fred Frumberg.

 By Rachel Watson
 and Touch Rotha