• Sirinthra Niyakorn and Sunaree Ratchasima cry as they sing "Fah Ronghai".
  • Thailand's luk thung artists record "Fah Ronghai" at Workpoint Studio
  • Veteran luk thung songwriter Chonlatee Tharnthong consoles two of his singers.
  • Sala Khunawut, Banyen Rakkaen, Eed Ponglangsa-Orn and Tukky record "Duay Huajai Thi Hug Phor".
  • Blind musician Ming 100 Voices has also written a song for the King.

Letting the music speak

lifestyle November 05, 2016 01:00

By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul
THE NATION

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In the third part of our "Songs for the King" series, we spotlight the country's luk thung and mor lam stars who are grieving for His Majesty through melodies



MORE THAN three weeks after the passing of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the country’s musicians are continuing to pay their respects and temper their grief the way they know best – through song.

This week has seen some national artists and luk thung (country folk) artists jumping on the bandwagon, among them Chinnakorn Krairas, 70, who, having released an earlier tribute, is now lending his voice to “Chom Rom Khon Rak Nai Luang” (“We Love the Thai King”) penned by former senator Apichat Damdee.

Setha “Toi” Sirachaya, 72, named national artist in performing arts (international and Thai music) in 2011 and a former member of The Impossibles, one of the 1970’s popular string combos, has joined some 200 vocalists and actors for “Mong Bon Fah” (“Look to the Sky”) written and composed by Peet Peera.

Among his fellow vocalists are Colonel Wanchana “Bird” Sawasdee, Ekachai Srivichai, Sunita “Beau” Leetikul, Lek T-Bone, Chawin “Jugg” Chitsomboon, Sakda Pathasima of Inca, Kanitkul “Praew” Netbute, Mariam Grey, Fon Thanasoonthorn, Lew Ajareeya, Flure, Tachaya “Keng The Voice” Pratumwan, Rangsan “Songkran The Voice” Panyaruen, Surachai “Tar” Wongbuakhao, Warisara “Miew Boom Boom Cash” Apirakdechachai and Mocca Garden, and artists signed with Mono Music. An 80-piece orchestra provides the backing.

Chaweewan Phanthu, 71, recognised as national artist (mor lam) in 1993, sings “Sadaeng Khwam Alai Nai Luang” written by Jakkarin Sroysoongnern, together with khaen player Pongsathorn Ubni. The song takes the form of a lam yao, the kind of long song usually performed at charity events and ceremonies and lasting for 30 to 60 minutes.

Somnuke Thongma, aka Chonlatee Tharnthong, 79, meanwhile, national artist in performing art (international music) in 1999, has written “Fah Ronghai” (“The Sky Is Crying”). The song was recently recorded at the Workpoint Studio in Pathum Thani by several artists, among them Pongsri Woranuch, Wipoj Petchsuphan, Sunaree Ratchasima, Chaiya Mitrchai, Monsit Khamsoi, Dao Mayuree, Sirinthra Niyakorn, Ekachai Srivichai, Jingreedkhao Wongtewan, Pornsak Songsaeng, Sodsai Roongpothong, Yui Yatyer, Chanjuang Duangchan, Surachart Sombatcharoen, Poifai Malaiporn, Janet Khiew, Peter Modify, Aof Supanat, Candy Rakkaen, Duangchan Suwanne, and Note Chermyim.

“The death of His Majesty the King brought tears to the eyes of all Thais. I spent more than 10 hours writing the song, striving to find the most appropriate words, I was crying as I wrote it and outside I could hear the rain. ‘Fah Ronghai’ seemed an obvious title and my message is that we should all do good for the King and stand united,” says the distinguished songwriter.

Luk thung star Wipoj agrees with the sentiment. “I couldn’t control my tears after hearing the announcement of the passing of the King. I felt it was still too early for the King to pass away, as we all wanted him to live for 100 years. I had an audience with the King as a child when he visited my hometown of Suphan Buri. When I was 18 and moved to Bangkok, I had a second chance to meet him, this time in the company of other artists,” he says.

Banyen Rakkaen, aka Nitya Rakkaen, national artist (mor lam) in 2013, has lent her vocals to “Duay Huajai Thi Hug Phor” (“With Love, Dad”) together with Sala Khunawut, Sompong “Eed Ponglang Sa-orn” Kunaprathom and Sudarat “Tukky Ching Roi Ching Lan” Butrprom, stars of the TV singing show “Golden Mic, Gifted Morlam”).

“The King is always in our minds and I hope everybody will follow in his footsteps. We must take care of our country,” Banyen says.

“I’m very proud to be a part of this song and express my loyalty to the Monarch,” Tukky adds.

 Ubon Ratchathani-born song writer Sala offers a lam phuthai tune in the tradition of Isaan music.

“This song represents all Isaan people in expressing love for the King. It runs for seven minutes and uses local instruments such as the sor, phin and khaen,” says Sala, who is one of the three judges for the show.

His fellow Isaan native Chalermphol Malakham spent two days in writing a mor lam number “Paendin Ronghai Alai Phor” (“The Earth Is Mourning the King”), which describes the Monarch’s benevolence during his 70-year reign.

Ple Pathumraj of R Siam expresses similar emotions in his “Phuea Nai Luang” (“For the King”).

“The King had never left his people behind,” says Pathumraj. “I feel so overwhelmed by his benevolence, and my farmer parents follow his sufficiency economy philosophy. |Even though I’m a luk thung singer, I do my best to stick to a sufficient way of life, neither overeating nor overspending.”

Musicians from the North of Thailand are also paying their respects with “Phor Nueay Phor Laew” (“Dad, You’re Tired Enough”). Written by Chakrapong “Pe” Thienwijit, arranged by former A Capella 7 member Opal Tantayanusorn, and produced by Weera Wattanachantarakul, it features more than 100 artists and musicians who answered Weera’s Facebook appeal to join him. They include Soontaree Vechanont, Lanna Commins, Kai Panipa, Om Maimuang, Natt The Star, Earning AF8, Nok Lae, and artists from “The Voice Thailand”.

“I wrote this song after hearing the news. I sat at the piano and thought about how the lyrics would best express thanks for the King’s benevolence and guidance. The King would like us to be united so that he need no longer feel tired,” Chakrapong says.

Blind musician Sappasit “Ming” Thuepudsa, 26, a student at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University’s education faculty, who has earned the nickname “Ming 100 Voices” for his talent for imitation, has penned “Tham Dee Phuea Phor” (“Doing Good for Father”). He and his friends have also produced a music video of the number, filming it at the Thao Suranaree Monument in the provincial capital and uploading it to YouTube.

“I wrote this song based on everything I have heard about the King and his work for his people since I was a child,” says the singer.