Lee Alexander Kirby, who is running a high school in London, recently released an album, “Vietnam oi” (Dear Vietnam), which comprises of nine well-loved Vietnamese songs, including three everlasting pieces by revered composer Trinh Cong Son.
34-year-old Kirby, CEO of Ashbourne High School in London, showcased his emotional singing voice and excellent command of Vietnamese through the songs, including “Diem xua” (reminiscences), “Nhu canh vac bay” (like a flying heron) and “Dem thay ta la thac do” by late composer Trinh Cong Son.
The album features stunning images from Kirby’s journeys across Vietnam, which range from relics and tourist attractions such as Hoa Lu (Vietnam’s former capital) and Sam Son beach to merely rustic scenes like a small wharf, an ancient temple or a sidewalk café.
“With my album, I want to reiterate my life philosophy ‘You only live once!’, - to just grasp any opportunities that come to you. With my constant efforts, I’ve managed to do things that not all foreigners can do: speaking, singing in Vietnamese and travelling throughout Vietnam,” Kirby shared.
This album is the result of Kirby’s three-year project called “Iced tea with Lee”, which aims to promote Vietnamese culture and images to the world. The young man took two cross-country trips in 2011 and 2013.
“Viet Nam oi” has been released in Vietnam and the UK as well as on online channels including itunes and cdbaby.
Kirby is currently on his performing tour “Lee Kirby – Dear Vietnam”, which is running in Hanoi, Hue, HCMC and southern Rach Gia town from Nov 2013 to Jan 2014.
Kirby began learning Vietnamese in 2003 during his one-year stay in Vietnam, when he earned his living as a footballer for the Ho Chi Minh City Post and Telecoms Soccer Team. He first performed his Vietnamese songs to British audiences at Mermaid Theater in London during the 2008 VietSoc LSE show.
In 2009, he recorded himself singing “Diem xua” and playing the guitar and his clip and its author quickly became known to the Vietnamese netizens.
During the 2010 Tet holiday, Kirby was asked by Mark Kent, British Ambassador to Vietnam, to perform and record the Vietnamese song “Que nha” (hometown) as warm Tet wishes for the Vietnamese community living in the UK.
Due to his work commitments, the young man can only come to Vietnam for three months each year, during his summer break and Christmas and New Year holidays.
He said that at his school, up to 10% of the students are Vietnamese. He has held several activities and programs to help Vietnamese British kids know more about their home country and promote the Asian country to British people.