US singer perks up patients in central Vietnam hospital

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US country singer Mary McBride performs with her band at the Central Hospital in Hue on April 8.

There was unusual gaiety and laughter in the air at the Central Hospital in Hue on Sunday as touring US country singer Mary McBride performed with her band, bringing considerable cheer to hundreds of patients.

The mirth reached fever pitch when McBride babbled Ly chieu chieu, a popular folk song in southern Vietnam about love.

The performance was initiated for the first time by the organizers of the ongoing Hue Festival.

Many patients joined the performance of nearly two hours on wheel chairs, with their IV lines in tow.

Nguyen Thi Hoa, a patient, said "I don't understand their language, but I can feel that the music is great, very relaxing.

"I was in pain all last night, but now being here with the music, I suddenly forget that I'm sick."

Pham Hung, another patient with injured legs, said he and others in his room went to the yard when they heard the music.

"I've been in the hospital for months and heard no live music until now; this is so joyful," Hung said.

"I'm very happy that the band has helped me."

McBride and her band of two guitars, one bass and one drum, on a ten-day Home Tour of Vietnam.

She said the tour aims to bring music to people in difficulties who have to stay at temporary homes like prisons, orphanage, asylums or senior citizen homes.

"We'd like to bring the music and festivity to patients and disabled children who don't have the condition to attend arts events," McBride said.

On Monday afternoon, her band sang for poor and disabled children at the Kids First Village in the Quang Tri Province and visited a project dealing with damage caused by UXOs (unexploded ordnances) left behind after the Vietnam War.

The band performed with music students in Hue on Tuesday, visited vision-impaired people in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday and is due to leave Vietnam on Friday.

Mary McBride has released four albums with her band and performed around 1,000 live shows in the US, Europe, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Pakistan as the US's cultural ambassador, a position she was given by the US State Department due to her talent and long-term devotion to disadvantaged communities.

The singer is famous for the song, No one's gonna love you like me in Brokeback Mountain, a movie made by Oscar winning director Ang Lee in 2005.

She was also invited by Elton John to sing at a concert celebrating the 35th anniversary of his legendary album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

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