Who is SoulGook?
I began studying the Vietnamese traditional instrument known as the đàn bầu over fifteen years ago, becoming apprenticed to a world-renowned đàn bầu master. I lived and studied music with his family every summer for five years, living and breathing traditional music every hour of the day. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to not only perform music but also study it as a form of cultural expression, enrolling in Indiana University’s graduate program in Folklore & Ethnomusicology (“ethnomusicology” is the cultural study of music from all over the world). I’ve since expanded my academic horizons, pursuing dual doctorates in Folklore & Ethnomusicology and Communication & Culture.
You can explore more of my academic pursuits on my other blog.
All the while, I’ve continued to make music. The persona of SoulGook is my performative encapsulation of the complexities of Vietnamese American identity. A pseudonym coming from the days when I used to hang around freestyle rap circles, it hints at the multiple expressive forms that have spoken to me throughout my life, from the raw social commentary of my favorite hip hop artists to the nostalgia-laden melodies of Vietnamese folk opera.
Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the music!
- Read my Artist’s Statement.
- Learn about the single-string Vietnamese instrument, the đàn bầu.