A gypsy wanders into Saigon

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 Hawaii-born musician, Heather Jakeman performs every Tuesday to Saturday at the Purple Jade bar, Hotel InterContinental Asiana Saigon.

Heather Jakeman loved music.

It sort of ran in the family, her father being a guitarist and sister a belly dancer. As a child, she herself had artistic ambitions.

"When I was five years old, I wanted to join a theater so badly!" The Hawaii-born musician remembers herself in an "apple seed" costume singing as loudly as she could so that she would be selected to join the show.

Growing up, she decided to give up on her dream of becoming a singer in 1999. She told herself she needed to adopt a more realistic attitude to life. She needed to get a stable office job and focus on career advancement.

So that's what she did. She moved to New York from San Jose, California, where she had grown up, and got herself an office job. She had the security and stability she was looking for, but something a sense of fulfillment perhaps, eluded her.

Then the accident happened.

"I was sleeping in a car on a vacation. It was raining. Somebody hit the car." It was an accident that involved five other cars whose passengers were all taken to the hospital.

"What if I had died that day? I'd given up my dream to look for security. And it had not made me happy. (I realized) it was important to live the truth and pursue one's dreams."

The week after the accident, Jakeman quit her office job and immediately got an offer from a little stage. "Desires are put in your heart on purpose. You do what you love and the opportunity shows up to surprise you."

After graduating from the New York-based American Musical and Dramatic Academy in 2002, Jakeman traveled extensively within the US, Europe, Italy and China, and was once called to the White House to perform for the First Lady.

She has also worked with the Mario Celia Jazz Band in Italy, the Borgo Natio Jazz Band and in the Italian Opera Suor Angelica. She has sung at a Miss Italy pageant, and performed alongside Wayne Newton, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, and Diamond Rio.

The Hawaii-born musician is now in Ho Chi Minh City to perform at the InterContinental Asiana Saigon this month onwards.

She will perform every Tuesday to Saturday from 8 p.m. until late at the hotel's Purple Jade bar.

The singer came to Vietnam directly from Shanghai, China.

Thanh Nien Weekly met Jakeman before one of her performances. In a red Greek-style silk gown with a peacock train, the slim and stylish woman was cheerful as she prepared to belt out R & B, jazz and blues numbers.

Jazz songs are both sad and happy, she noted.

"She really gets into the song and creates a good energy," said Nguyen Trung, a customer at the Purple Jade bar.

Jakeman, who has had a three-year association with the United Services Organizations (USO), an organization that provides recreation services for US military personnel, said jazz is "one of few things born" in America.

Her aim is to share the music she loves with other people, she said.

And has she tired of her gypsy life?

Not really, Jakeman said. "If I find a place that really grabs me, I will stay."

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