Young Talent: Interview with Mai Dawt Hlei Hniang (Hniang Hniang)
Singapore: 31 December 2005 [At a very young age, she was already a popular Chin singer, whose sweet and sensational voice, and amazing ability to hit high notes quickly captured the hearts of anyone hearing her voice for the first time.
Read More Then she surprised her national audience when she participated in the national artistic talent contest [So-Kah-Ye-Ti] and walked away with the first prize for four years in a row. Dawt Hlei Hniang, more popularly known as Hniang Hniang, knew she was only one step away to national recognition when she was invited to pair up with the legendary popular musician Htoo Ein Thin for a new Burmese album. But the 24-year old singer has something more to aspire. She wants to study music so she could teach and inspire other younger Chin hopeful musicians.
In a rare and exclusive interview with Salai Za Uk Ling of Chinland Guardian, Hniang Hniang, who is currently spending her holidays in Singapore, talks about her talents and inspirations…and more…]
Chinland Guardian: Thank you for letting us interview you
Hniang Hniang: Thanks for having me.
Chinland Guardian: Let me start off by asking what brought you to Singapore.
Hniang Hniang: Well, I was invited to do a concert by a group called HPH in Malaysia. I have a stop over at Singapore on my way in and out of Malaysia.
Chinland Guardian: How did your concert go in Malaysia?
Hniang Hniang: It went great. I couldn’t have hoped for anything better. It was a great turnout too. It must have been more than a thousand audiences. I sang 26 songs straight in one concert. What was most striking was that I was very happy and encouraged to discover how deeply people appreciated Chin songs. I must acknowledge gratitude to the HPH, which brought me there for such an amazing opportunity.
Chinland Guardian: When did you discover your talent?
Hniang Hniang: I think music runs in my family. Everyone [in my family] likes music and I think I discovered my love for singing when I learned to speak my first words.
Chinland Guardian: You have a whole family supporting and believing in your talent; how has that helped you in becoming who you are today?
Hniang Hniang: I wouldn’t have become the person that I am today without the support of my family. I am who I am today because of a loving and supporting family.
Chinland Guardian: You were awarded first prize in the national contest of traditional artistic talents for several years in a row. What is so amazing is that you competed in traditional Burmese song, as opposed to Chin song, and yet you came in first all those times, especially given that you were competing in songs that were not in your mother tongues. Tell us more about it.
Hniang Hniang: It’s true. I participated in those contests (So-Kah-Ye-Ti) from 1994-1997 and I was awarded first prize consecutively for four years. My line of contest was on traditional Burmese songs, modern Burmese songs and Buddhist religious songs [There was no line of competition in Chin songs]. I learned the songs by listening to taped Burmese music. Also, some Burman administrative officials stationed in Hakha [the capital of Chin State, where I live] walked me through the details of the songs.
Chinland Guardian: There has been much anticipation about a new Burmese album you were recording with the legendary musician Htoo Ein Thin, who unfortunately passed away last year. How did it come about?
Hniang Hniang: It was so unfortunate for the music world in Burma to have lost a man like Htoo Ein Thin. He died when we were recording a duet song for the new album. We’d already recorded seven songs through our producer Tin Oo Thaung. His death was so unexpected and untimely. The album still remains unreleased after his death.
Chinland Guardian: If you were to name a single artist or vocalist, nationally or internationally, that most inspire you, who would that person be?
Hniang Hniang: Internationally, I’d say Shania Twain. And Tin Zar Maw would be my favourite vocalist nationally.
Chinland Guardian: What’s your favourite Chin song?
Hniang Hniang: I like ‘A Hme Ram Laitlang’ [Our Chinland] most
Chinland Guardian: Many Chin vocal talents have made their way to fame nationally in the last several years. What are your aspirations in terms of your musical career ahead?
Hniang Hniang: Sure. My aspiration is to make myself in a position to teach and inspire younger Chin music lovers and vocalists so they could become accomplished musicians.
Chinland Guardian: What is your message for your fans out there who adores you and look up to you?
Hniang Hniang: I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to all those fans and supporters who have always been so wonderful to me. I’d like to let them know that I will continue to try hard for the fans and for our people. At the same time, I’d welcome from the fans any advice and suggestions about any shortcomings I may have so that I can improve myself accordingly in the future.
Chinland Guardian: What are your plans for the next few years?
Hniang Hniang: I’d really like to be able to get a higher education in the field of music.
Chinland Guardian: Thanks so much for sparing your time with us.
Hniang Hniang: It was my pleasure.