Ros Serey Sothea was Cambodia’s most beloved female pop singer of the Vietnam War era, until her mysterious disappearance in the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge.
A haunting portrait of a young woman who would forever change the landscape of Cambodian rock n’ roll, The Golden Voice traces the unlikely music career of rice farmer-turned-singer Ros Serey Sothea during the 1960’s and 70’s. Her success in the recording industry defied all odds, capturing the hearts of the Cambodian people. Throughout her career, Sothea recorded over 500 songs, with her signature angelic voice soaring over every conceivable genre, from bolero to romantic ballads to psychedelic rock.
As Cambodia exploded into a brutal civil war, Sothea's singing career remained ever prolific, even when she joined the army as one of the country's first female paratroopers. After years of bloody conflict, the communist Khmer Rouge seized control, bringing Cambodia's golden age of music into a dark era of silence. Most artists, including Ros Serey Sothea, were murdered.
Ros Serey Sothea's golden voice lives on in the popular music of Cambodia to this very day. Gone but not forgotten, her legacy continues to inspire.
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.
Much of 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.
IN THE PRESS
“One of the best graphic novels of the year." - PITCHFORK
“The creators weave a delicate balance between biography, storytelling, and history to immerse the reader in the culture and the feeling of the moment during this dangerous wartime in Cambodia... readers won't want to miss." - BOOKLIST
“Ros' brilliant but short life makes for an excellent avenue to explore this tumultuous period of Cambodian history and demonstrates the ways that music can capture the spirit of a people, even after the musician is gone." - KIRKUS REVIEWS
GREGORY CAHILL is an Emmy Award winning producer for CBS entertainment talk show The Talk. His previous television credits include 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland, Mad Men starring Jon Hamm, and Medium starring Patricia Arquette. He served as assistant director on animated comedy Hell & Back starring Mila Kunis and Bob Odenkirk. His debut feature film Two Shadows took home the Audience Award from the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, while his short film The Golden Voice was selected for over a dozen international film festivals, winning several awards. Gregory is a board member of the Cambodia Town Film Festival, and a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.
KAT BAUMANN is an illustrator from Southern Minnesota. She grew up in a family of musicians, and as a kid she spent most of her time singing show tunes in her room and drawing her favorite manga characters. After graduating with a BFA in Studio Art, she interned at Helioscope Studio in Portland and began working as a freelance cartoonist. Other works of hers include Ferdinand Magellan Sails Around the World (Black Sheep: Extraordinary Explorers), Blind Spot (from the anthology Death Saves Vol. 2), 20 Fists by F.D. White, and her 2017 auto-bio graphic novella Broken Plastic Horses.
CINDY SOUS is a Cambodian American UX Designer. Her family immigrated to the United States in the 80’s. She received a BA with a concentration in Graphic Design from Salem State University. She currently works as a Design Manager at IntelyCare and has previously worked at Eastern Labs, Fidelity Investments and Emanio Creative. Outside of work, she and her two friends Daveth and Davey work on their passion project Khmer Identity. The purpose of their project is to acknowledge and celebrate various identities that exist within the Khmer community and to create a sense of belonging for those who don’t feel represented. Their efforts are also to highlight and preserve Cambodian history and to extend it beyond their trauma. The team collaborated with the Lynn Museum to install a photography exhibition in April 2022.
ROTANAK OUM is a co-founder of the Cambodian Vintage Music Archive, Inc. a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Born and raised in Phnom Penh, he discovered the music of Ros Serey Sothea and Sin Sisamouth on the radio at age 7. It was love at first listen, and he began collecting old records as a teenager. Since founding CMVA in 2010, Rotanak has been working on digitization to preserve and protect Cambodian music from the 1950s -1970s. He works to advocate for digital rights and to restore copyright on behalf of the artists, so that the artists and/or their surviving families can receive financial compensation from purchasing and licensing of their recordings. He has co-organized exhibitions and forums discussing preservation and promoting Cambodian pop culture with local, governmental, and international organizations across the globe.