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Ros Sereysothea

"Golden Voice of the Royal Capital"
Background information
Birth name Ros Sothear
Born 1948
Origin Battambang Province, Cambodia
Died 1977
Genres psychedelic rock
garage rock
Occupations Singer
Years active 1967 – 1975
Associated acts Sinn Sisamouth

Ros Serey Sothea (Khmer: រស់ សេរីសុទ្ធា) (1948[1] – 1977 [2]) was a famous Cambodian singer during the nation's thriving cultural renaissance. She sang from a variety of genres but romantic ballads emerged as her most popular works. Despite a rather short career she is credited with producing hundreds of songs and even starring in a few movies. Details of her life and fate during the Khmer Rouge is relatively unknown but it is generally accepted she did not survive.




Early life

Ros Sothea was born in 1948[2] to Ros Sabun and Nath Samean in Battambang Province. Growing up relatively poor, Ros Sothea was the second youngest of five children and displayed vocal talent around the age of three or four. Her talent would remain relatively hidden until she was persuaded by friends to join a regional singing contest in 1963. After winning the contest she gained the attention and praise of the province and was invited to join Lomhea Yothea (a musical troupe) which regularly performed at Stung Khiev Restaurant in Battambang. It is believed that Im Song Seurm, a singer from the National Radio heard of Sothear's talents and invited her to the capital, Phnom Penh in 1967.

Music career

In Phnom Penh, she adopted the alias Ros Sereysothea and became a singer for National Radio performing duets with Im Song Seurm. Her first hit, Stung Khieu debuted the same year and she quickly attracted fans with her clear and high pitch voice. Eventually she became a regular partner with Sinn Sisamouth another famous singer of the era and they were a smashing success. She also performed with other prominent singers of the era such as Pan Ron, Houy Meas, and Sos Mat.

Recognized as a national treasure she was honored by King Norodom Sihanouk with the royal title of "Reachani Samleng Meas", the "Queen of Golden Voice".

The style of music early in her career is characterized by traditional Cambodian ballads and duets. She would eventually shift to a more comtemporary style by combining romantic ballads drenched in loss, betrayal, and death with Western instruments. This change of style is most likely be attributed to her traumatic marriage with fellow singer, Sos Mat.

By the 1970s, Sothear began experimenting in other genres. Her high, clear voice, coupled with the rock backing bands featuring prominent, distortion-laden lead guitars, pumping organ and loud, driving drums, made for an intense, sometimes haunting sound that is best described today as psychedelic or garage rock. And like the leader of the music scene, Sinn Sisamouth, Sothear would often take popular Western rock tunes, such as John Fogerty's "Proud Mary" and refashion them with Khmer lyrics.

Her career would continue until the Khmer Rouge captured the beleaguered capital, Phnom Penh in April 1975.

Personal life

Sothea's personality is invariably described as modest and reserved. She is known to have been involved in a few relationships throughout her life. When she arrived in Phnom Penh, she eventually caught the eye of fellow singer Sos Mat who was already legally married to two other wives but wanted her hand in marriage. This eventually came to be but their marriage lasted only a short six months. Sos Mat became insanely jealous of her success and of the men who came to watch her perform. Traumatized by emotional and physical abuse since she was a constant envy of both of his wives, as well as domestic violence from Sos Mat, she then fled to back to her native Battambang. It wasn't until Sinn Sisamouth vowed to protect her did she return to Phnom Penh to resume her career.

Her next relationship was with the son of the famous Van Chan theatre owner. Their marriage resulted in a son but for undocumented reasons they separated. It is believed a general of Lon Nol's government who was insanely in love with her, kidnapped and held her against her will. She is also noted to have had a relationship with a parachutist of the Khmer Republic.

The Killing Fields

Like everyone else when the Khmer Rouge took over, she was forced to leave Phnom Penh. There are many speculations regarding her fate from a variety witnesses.

Some say Sothea was forced by Pol Pot to marry one of his assistants in 1977 who was said to have argued and beaten her often. She then disappeared under typically mysterious circumstances and is almost certainly dead. Other accounts believe that she died from being overworked in a Khmer Rouge agricultural camp. Another account said that she was still alive when the Vietnamese invading forces arrived in Phnom Penh and died of malnutrition shortly after in a hospital.

Finally, her sisters insist that Sothea along their mother and children were taken to Kampong Soam province and executed immediately following the Fall of Phnom Penh.


With the cultural upheaval by the Khmer Rouge, scant evidence of Ros Serey Sothear's life and the remain. However, many recordings have survived and have started to gain exposure through reissues on cassette and CD.

Songs by Sothea, Sinn Sisamouth and other Cambodian singers of the era, Meas Samoun, Chan Chaya, Choun Malai and Pan Ron, are featured on the soundtrack to Matt Dillon's film City of Ghosts. Tracks by Sothea are "Have You Seen My Love", "I'm Sixteen" and "Wait Ten Months".

The Los Angeles band Dengue Fever, which features Cambodian lead singer Chhom Nimol, covers a number of songs by Sothea and other singers from the short-lived Cambodian rock and roll scene.

Partial discography

  • Ros Serey Sothea managed to sing more than 100 songs and create a reputation that would last for centuries within a career that spanned only for 9 years(1966-1975). Over 100 songs are listed below


  • "Chnam Oun Dop-Pramp Muy" (I'm 16)
  • "Cry Loving Me"
  • "Don't Be Mad"
  • "Hair Cut, Hair Cut"
  • "Have You Seen My Love"
  • "I'm So Shy"
  • "Phey! Phey!" (Scared! Scared!)
  • "Since When You Knew Me"
  • "Wait Ten Months"
  • "Wicked Husband"
  • "Chnom oun 15(I'm only 15)
  • "Mdeth gall daltarm khyum?(why do you follow me?)
  • "Klein jurp nersa (The fragrant that lasts with me)
  • "Rom Woolly Bully
  • "Bong Srolanh Oun Ponman Dae (Tell Me How Much You Love Me)
  • "Po Pruk Po Lngeach
  • "Penh Chet Tae Bong Muoy"


  • "Kaduk Dol Heuy"
  • "Komping Puoy"
  • "Rolum Saen Kraw"
  • "Sarika Keo Kauch"


  • "Srah Muy Keo" (One Shot)


  • "Bopha Akasajal"
  • "Jomno Pailin"
  • "Kom Plich Oun Na"
  • "New Year's Eve"
  • "Pink Night"
  • "Pka Reige Leu Maik"
  • "Pruos Reing Avey?"
  • "Lort sene duong chan
  • "Chross O'yadao
  • "Somnerng Bopha prey phnom(songs of the jungle girl)
  • "Sralmall sene khyum(Shadow of my love)
  • "Chmreing sene khyum(Story of my love)
  • "Alay bong cher net(always misses you)
  • "Teurk hoe teu (river flow)
  • "Bong ban sonyah(You've promise)
  • "Soum ros khbere bong
  • "Oun soum angvall (I beg of you)
  • "Oun neul tharl rong jum (I will still wait)
  • "Bomplete men ban ( Can't forget)
  • "Oun smak bong smoss
  • "Oun sralnane bong nas( I love you so much)
  • "San nuk alay
  • "Men gor sralane bong( I shouldn't love you)
  • "Chup sralane men ban (Can't stop loving you)
  • "Jum neu tharl jum
  • "Oun jum bong cher neth
  • "Pros bondoll chiet
  • "Kum keng oun na bong
  • "Rom cha cha cha
  • "Jum loss sone
  • "Bong tvere eouy oun yume(You made me cry)
  • "Yume samrapp thngay ness
  • "Sall anosaovary
  • "Lane khyume teu (let me go)
  • "Bondam stung keiv
  • "Reastrei buth sene (missing lover of the night)
  • "Pkah orchid
  • "Auh! seneha khyume
  • "Verjah boross (the word of men)
  • "Popol gomah
  • "Prote svamei
  • "Oun soum phneu chheung
  • "San klotpsa
  • "Chhba mon reing khyum
  • "Norok lokei(The sin of man)
  • "Ahso kasalmerlerr
  • "Rolok songka therm svamei
  • "Thmnorng leakina
  • "Thgnay lett oun sralnoss(When sunset,I miss u)
  • "Tropeang Peay
  • "San chhok chhem
  • "Pathchere sralnoss
  • "Gonsan nisei
  • "Machass sene oun
  • "Chmreing avasane
  • Konsaeng Krohom(Red Scarf)
  • Pros Del Ka'bor Chet (Man who betrays)
  • Veal Srey Sronoh

Duets with Sinn Sisamouth

  • "Ae Na Promajarey"
  • "Bos Choong"
  • "Chom Chait Pesaey"
  • "Chor Louch Jet"
  • "Have a Caramel"
  • "Jong ban pka avey?"("What flower do you want?"
  • "Kay Tha Kyom Jass"
  • "Konarb snaeha" ("Love poem")
  • "Komnoch veyo"
  • "Pneik Kmohuoch"
  • "Nao Tae Srolanh
  • "Oh! snaeha euy!" ("Oh! Love...")
  • "Oun Rom Som Tae"
  • "Sronos Oh Jrov"
  • "Soniya 3 Tngai"(A Promise for 3 Days)
  • "Tesepheap Prolim"
  • "Tiev Euy Srey Tiev"
  • "Tmor Kol Sromol Snae"
  • "Tok Bong Om Skat"
  • "Yaop Yun Thun Trojeak"
  • "Yerng Kom Plich Knear"

Duets with Other Artists

  • Kmao Euy Kmao(Em Song Seum-1972)
  • Komloss Kromum Heu Ha(Em Song Seum-1972)
  • Komloss Kromum Srok Srae
  • Hann Pnal Da Ey(Eng Nary)
  • Soll Tae Card
  • Pka Sarai


  1. ^ reference note date=September 2009
  2. ^ a b |date=September 2009

External links


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