Noi Sengsourigna is a Laotian musician, artist and educator currently visiting the United States. Noi grew up in a family dedicated to the preservation and the teaching of Lao culture and she is continuing the tradition. She is an architecture graduate from RMIT, Australia and is the English news anchor for Lao National Television News. Her passion is Lao culture, music and dance and sharing them with children. In pursuit of that passion she has become a songwriter, producer and performer in live concerts, on television and in recordings. She also established the Sengsourigna Children’s Music Center. Asian American Press caught up with her to discuss her work.
Asian American Press: What are some of the places you’ve been to on this trip? Were there any sights you particularly enjoyed?
Noi Sengsouringa: I spent much of my time in Wisconsin, and also Illinois and Washington DC. There are sights that I really enjoyed.
These included going to Children Museum in Madison, Visiting the Stage of Wisconsin and visiting the botanical garden in Madison. The special memory that I have is visiting Elementary schools, like visiting to Catherine T. Reed, Elementary School in Lanham, MD, just outside of Washington, DC where I enjoy so much singing and dancing with disabled kids. They are just such wonderful children; they lift up my energy and spirit to do my work better. I hope to come back to do more of this activities again in US. It makes me miss my children in Laos so much and I wish they were here with me.
AAP: What is the Sengsourigna Children’s Music Center?
NS: The Sengsourigna Children’s Music and Cultural Center (SCMCC) is a non- profit organization that is under the umbrella of Social Science Researchers Art of Speaking Promotion Association. The center was founded originally in 1982 by Ajan Kideng Phonkaseumsouk whose passion is to use music to help children and youth develop their talents, and build their self esteem resulting in improved quality of education.
Our main mission is to preserve, and promote the importance of music and culture. In 2006, I carried on the mission of Ajan Kideng and established the “Cultural Home” now known as the Sengsourigna Children’s Music and Cultural Center.” Presently, the center accommodates 45 children providing music, dancing, language, and art instruction. The main focus is to support those who are in need.
AAP: How old were you when you first discovered your passion for the arts?
NS: I was only 5 years old at that time. My first instrument that I played is called “Kim” or a Dulcimer.
I did not know much when my father made me a kim player. Gradually, when I had really enjoyed playing music and especially I was selected to be the first kim player to go to Russia to play Lao music with thousands of children from all over the world in Artek Sea. My farther had really inspired me and influenced my art. Now, I have become the founder of the Sengsourigna Children Music and Cultural Center for Disadvantaged Kids. I really proud of my kids who pursue their dreams in Music and Art.
AAP: Was your family supportive of you as an artist?
NS: Yes, so much. I had so much courage because when I was 6 years old, I remembered my farther saved his little salary every month to pay off my first kim. In our house we are all musicians, I am a kim player, my older sister “ Bee” plays the Lao violin, my 2nd older brother “ Sunny ”played Lao xylophone, and my first older brother “ Jacky ” played khaen, my mom was a speaker at every event we go, and my father Ajan Kideng is the producer and the director. Our family always shares the same passion and love in music, and we really enjoy supporting each other.
However, since they are all married and have their families, every one becomes busy in order to take care of their families. They are really happy that I was the one to protect and preserve our great culture of Laos and they are really supportive that I share this with all the children in Laos.
AAP: What inspires you?
NS: The most inspiring thing that helps me to move on working tirelessly are the children of the Center. They are my life energy. They are the colors of rainbows I am hoping to see as they grow and shine. And by working with handicap people at Handicap Center in Vientiane, I have so much inspiration for me and my children. As I teach kids, they always share with those who are handicapped. Every year we have a big charity where we all will come together and enjoy of sharing the love and affection to those who have special needs in seeing and hearing. I have this saying that always keep my energy alive, and it is painted in our center: “ We can not choose where to be born, but we can choose where we are going ”
AAP: What’s the most important thing to you about being involved with traditional arts from Laos?
NS: First of all, I would like those who are born as Lao to be proud of who they really are. As we are moving into modernization, especially in the western world, we are somehow facing with the lost of identity, and popularity, I really see the need that traditional Art of Laos should be preserved. That great identity should be promoted to the modern world, as you may see in my innovative way to making music production that has the hybrid of Traditional style, and the Contemporary Style mixed together. I have a hope that I would be one of many who is able to help to protect, preserve, and promote the beauty of Lao art. The most important thing is that our younger generation understands the values of Lao art and they are proud to be Lao.
AAP: Do you have any advice for anyone considering the arts?
NS: Instead of advice, I would like to say thank you those who consider making themselves artists. Because with the arts we make will make this world full of colors, and life. I am really proud for those who choose to live their life through arts. If we consider art, we will automatically gain freedom of thoughts. We may sometimes find ourselves being different to others, but remember that this is the beauty that exists within us.
You can visit Noi Sengsourigna online at: http://noiscmcc.com to learn more about her work!
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