In the film The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor the song “Like a Rose”, originally written and produced by Cambodian-American Bochan Huy and Arlen Hart, is a painfully beautiful accompaniment to the love between Dr. Ngor and his wife, who died under the Khmer Rouge regime.
Speaking to VOA Khmer, Huy says the song was written for her first album, released in 2014, but after watching the film and talking to the producer about her music, it was included in the soundtrack.
It’s a song about human resilience, Huy says. “That is kind of the story behind Dr. Haing S. Ngor. It’s beautifully painful.”
“He represents so much. He had this amazing love story with his wife and being a doctor.”
The film was produced by Arthur Dong and screened in 2015 and starring Dr. Ngor himself, who won an Oscar for best supporting actor in 1985.
“When I said, ‘calm like the ocean, who knows, and sweet like a rose,’ it’s something that was in you or someone that evokes the sense in you that gives some kind of sense of calmness, like all the darkness in chaos that one might have experienced like Dr. Haing S. Ngor going through the killing fields,” Huy says.
Huy says she is honored that her song made it onto the soundtrack of the movie.
“It tells a very important history and gives a very important life lesson about hope and culture, but also about this man that dedicated his life to representing something for everyone, human rights,” she said.
Huy started singing at a very young age, and her experience grew as she joined her father’s band as a teenager. After her father passed away, in 2006, Huy sought to revive her talent to produce original music.
She describes her music as “diaspora experience,” trying to understand her own identity as “being Khmer and Khmer American.”
“A lot of my music has been inspired by seeing the fight of our people and how far we have come,” she said. “It also tries to encourage and empower youth to find their voices.”
For Huy, music is a way for her to connect with her people, who she believes are seeking to understand their Cambodian and American story.