Ros Serey Sothea was Cambodia's most beloved female singer of the 1960's and 70's. Like most artists of her time, she was murdered by the Khmer Rouge regime under mysterious circumstances. Her voice lives on in the popular music of Cambodia to this very day.
During the 1960's, the Kingdom of Cambodia saw an explosion of art, film, and music under the tutelage of Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Into this creative fray came a very unlikely candidate: a poor 19-year-old rice farmer named Ros Serey Sothea.
Sothea was much like any other village girl, except for one thing. She had an angelic singing voice that would stop people in their tracks. Her talent landed her a regular gig on the National Radio, accolades from the prince, along with multiple record contracts. Throughout her career, Sothea recorded thousands of songs, ranging from romantic love ballads to hard-hitting rock n' roll, echoing the vibes of Jefferson Airplane and The Doors.
The Vietnam War harpooned Cambodia into a brutal civil war of its own, culminating with the victory of the communist Khmer Rouge, and their horrific genocide infamously known as "the killing fields." This was the end of Cambodia's vibrant music scene.
Writer Gregory Cahill was first introduced to Sothea's music vis-a-vis the City of Ghosts soundtrack, a discovery that would prove life-changing. In 2006, he wrote and directed a short film The Golden Voice, which led to more than a decade of researching, writing, and developing a full-length film. While the film was never made, the story found new life in the form of a graphic novel. Gregory's collaboration with artist Kat Baumann began in September 2019.
The Golden Voice transports readers back into the golden age of Cambodian pop music with its Immersive Music Experience feature. Hear Sothea's voice as she records in the studio. Listen as she performs on stage. Travel back in time to Phnom Penh in 1967 and feel the music pumping from every car radio and every dance club.
The book's interactive soundtrack was sourced from original vinyl records from the 1960's and 70's - an extreme rarity. Most original recordings were lost or destroyed during the Khmer Rouge. But thanks to the amazing folks at the Cambodian Vintage Music Archive, our book incorporates some of the most high-quality authentic cuts from the era, allowing readers to experience this beautiful music as it sounded 50 years ago.
We have taken care to ensure that the families of Ros Serey Sothea and Sin Sisamouth benefit from the use of their music in our book.