Ros Sereysothea

Ros Sereysothea

Famous Cambodian singer
Country: Cambodia

Biography of Ros Sereysothea

Ros Sereysothea was a famous Cambodian singer whose career flourished during the years of national cultural revival. With her magnificent voice, she mastered various genres, but her romantic ballads and covers of popular Western rock songs became particularly popular. Despite her short career from 1967 to 1975, she recorded hundreds of songs and played leading roles in several films.

Ros Sereysothea

Early Life and Career
Ros Sereysothea was born in 1948 in Battambang province to parents Ros Sabun and Nath Samean. Coming from a relatively poor family, she was the fourth of five children. At a very young age, around three or four years old, she demonstrated her singing talent. However, her exceptional vocal abilities and musical talents remained unknown outside her immediate surroundings until 1963 when friends convinced the fifteen-year-old Sereysothea to participate in a regional singing competition. Her victory in the competition caught the attention of the province, and she was offered a position in the musical troupe 'Lomhea Yothea', which regularly performed in bars and restaurants in the provincial capital of Battambang.

Ros Sereysothea

Rise to Fame
It is believed that Sereysothea was invited to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, in 1967 by popular singer Im Song Seurm from the National Radio. In Phnom Penh, she adopted the stage name Ros Sereysothea and started her career as a singer at the National Radio, where she performed duets with Im Song Seurm. In the same year, her first hit song 'Stung Khieu' was released, and her pure, melodious voice instantly attracted a large number of fans. Eventually, she became a regular collaborator with Sinn Sisamouth, the greatest Cambodian singer of that era, and they achieved great success together. She also performed with other renowned artists of the time, including Pan Ron, Houy Meas, and Sos Mat. Sereysothea was soon recognized as a national treasure of Cambodia, and King Norodom Sihanouk bestowed upon her the official title of the 'Golden Voice of the Royal Capital'.

Musical Style and Personal Life
At the beginning of her career, Sereysothea often performed traditional Cambodian ballads and duets. However, she eventually transitioned to a more modern musical style, blending romantic ballads infused with themes of loss, betrayal, and death with the sound of Western rock. This change in style was likely influenced by her unsuccessful marriage to singer Sos Mat. In the early 1970s, Sereysothea began experimenting with other genres. Her clear high voice combined with the intense instrumentals of rock bands remains a prime example of Eastern garage and psychedelic rock. Like the leader of the Cambodian music scene, Sinn Sisamouth, Sereysothea frequently performed Khmer-language cover versions of popular Western rock songs.

In her personal life, Sereysothea was always modest and reserved. Upon arriving in Phnom Penh, she married Sos Mat, who already had two wives, but the marriage lasted only six months. Sos Mat was intensely jealous of his young wife's success and even resorted to violence, physically abusing her. His other wives constantly envied and mistreated Sereysothea. The singer fled to her hometown of Battambang and only returned after receiving assurances of protection from Sinn Sisamouth. She later had a relationship with Van Chan, the son of a famous theater actor, with whom she had a son, but they also separated. There were rumors that during the Republic, General Lon Nol was infatuated with Sereysothea and kidnapped her against her will. Her brilliant career continued until April 1975 when the Khmer Rouge troops captured Phnom Penh and sent all its inhabitants to labor camps, which were essentially death camps.

Mysterious Fate and Legacy
There were many rumors about Sereysothea's subsequent fate, but there are no documented facts. It was said that she was forced to marry one of Pol Pot's assistants, who constantly abused her. She then disappeared under mysterious circumstances and is presumed to be dead. Some speculate that she died from the harsh labor and starvation in the Khmer Rouge labor camps, while others believe she perished from exhaustion in a hospital after the capture of Phnom Penh by Vietnamese forces. Her sisters insist that Sereysothea, along with their mother and children, were sent to Kampong Som province and perished there in 1977. Ros Sereysothea was only 29 years old at the time of her death. The years of Khmer Rouge rule destroyed almost all evidence of her life and the original recordings of hundreds of her songs. However, what has been preserved has been digitized and reissued today, continuing to be played on the radio.

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