To many music fans in Vietnam, especially those who follow the Vietnam Idol contest, Janice Phuong is a common name.
In 2016, she took part in the Vietnamese version of the world famous singing contest, chalking up a win in the competition.
Janice, however, is not Vietnamese.
|Janice Phuong performs on stage at Vietnam Idol 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
A dream come true
To Janice, whose real name is Janicee Aranjuez Buco, making an entry into Vietnamese showbiz has been a dream come true.
After a tough life in the Philippines, 21-year-old Janice decided to travel overseas.
She eventually chose Vietnam as a home base to live and perform as a singer in Hanoi, with the hope of earning enough money to send home and help her family.
In her rise to stardom, the young woman did not hesitate to perform at bars, lounges, events, or weddings, as long as the money was good.
Janice’s turning point came when she decided to try out for Vietnam Idol.
In 2016, she took part in the singing contest and won, “officially” marking her debut in local showbiz.
Her stage name, “Janice Phuong,” was given to her during Vietnam Idol 2016 by musician Huy Tuan and pop star singer Thu Minh, two of the competition’s judges.
|Janice Phuong (L) performs on stage at Vietnam Idol 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Nearly two years after the victory, the Filipina from Bohol and raised in Manila, frankly admits that she is still not a very famous name in the Vietnamese music scene.
“I understand that it’s not easy to become a star, you have to work hard for it,” Janice told Tuoi Tre News during a video call.
However, she did not hesitate to call winning the competition a “dream come true.”
Janice still remembers her excitement after hearing her name announced as one of the Top 12 contestants. When she found out she won the competition, she could hardly control herself.
“I admire divas, Hollywood stars, and celebrities in my country, and I love singing too, but I never thought of being given such a big title,” she said.
Winning Vietnam Idol has since brought many changes to Janice’s life, including higher payment, more fans, and more shows.
“I am really happy that I have more opportunities to sing and to earn money to help my family," she said.
|Janice Phuong poses for pictures with her fans at Vietnam Idol 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Janice said she always considers her victory was thanks to the fact that Vietnam accepted her and gave her that chance to win.
“Sometimes, when I sing in Vietnamese, I hope to reach the hearts of Vietnamese people,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, I would not have won.”
As a professional singer in the local music industry, despite having never studied music or speaking the local language, Janice is still in shock when her songs make it onto local music charts or are played at her regular coffee shops.
To Janice, a foreigner who began as a signer in local bars battling rude guests, life is now a dream she could never have imagined.
The love of a Vietnamese husband
Those who follow Janice’s career know that her helpful Vietnamese husband has been a pillar of support for her career over the past eight years.
When Janice first met Minh Khue, he was a musician in the bar where she was performing.
The two colleagues turned into best friends. Six months later, they became a couple.
In April 2012, their love was put to the test when Janice had troubles with her visa and was forced to return to the Philippines for three years.
Khue then chose to move to the Philippines and run an Internet shop with Janice.
The couple got married in 2014 in the Philippines and Janice was able to return to Vietnam a year later.
At that time, Khue “voluntarily” stayed in his wife’s hometown to manage their business before flying back to Vietnam after a few months.
After Janice won Vietnam Idol, Khue again “voluntarily” stopped his career as a musician and became manager for his singer wife.
|Janice Phuong and her husband Minh Khue at Vietnam Idol 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
He now helps his wife with her career, including arranging shows and preparing her outfits.
With a background of music, Khue also helps Janice in selecting songs, processing songs, and orientating her singing based on her strengths.
“He is my strictest critic,” Janice laughed when happily describing her husband.
Apart from the love of her husband, Janice has also found no problem winning over the hearts of her family-in-law.
“My family and her have some language barrier, but that doesn’t matter as love goes from heart to heart,” Khue proudly said.