A brush with death and a new lease on life

Thanh Nien News. Original Vietnamese story by TT&VH

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Turkish man escaping from a personal crisis rekindles showbiz dream in Vietnam 

Erdem Aslan has released one album and one single in Vietnamese / FILE PHOTO
When Erdem Aslan released his first Vietnamese album last November, a few foreigners had already made a name for themselves with their renditions of songs in a language that they’d never spoken before.
But it is a life-changing event, not fame and riches that have inspired his latest venture, the 27-year-old Turkish man said.
“I want to sing Vietnamese songs as a person who represents the cultural exchange between Vietnam and Turkey.”
Aslan also said he is aware how lucky he is to be able to work in showbiz again after what he had to face in his home country.
“I came to Vietnam to escape from my life crisis,” he said.
Aslan said when he was working as a comic actor at an art club in Kastamonu City seven years ago, he had a traffic accident that put him at risk of being paralyzed or even losing his life.
After many surgeries he was finally saved from the worst scenarios, but he suffered amnesia that stopped him from living his lifetime dream of being a comedian.
“When you lose ability to work, no one wants to employ you. So, I felt very sad and did not know how to continue my life.”
It was at that time that he met an entrepreneur who was planning to develop his business in Vietnam, and was offered the position of an interpreter, even though he spoke no Vietnamese at all.
The company offered to send him to Ho Chi Minh City, where he would take a language course first before starting to work.
“I accepted the offer, thinking that it would be easier to start a new life in a new country.”
Aslan said he spent more than eight months studying Vietnamese at the HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities, which was “the hardest time” of his stay in Vietnam, because the language was “very difficult.”
After finishing the course, he flew to Hanoi, where he worked as an interpreter and also studied information technology at the Hanoi Vietnam National University.
“I gradually found new job opportunities here.”
His talent was actually spotted by students of an international school where he’d found work as a teaching assistant. They said he has a good voice and took him to a studio where he met composer Khac Viet.
Viet said he would support Aslan, but the decision to return to showbiz was prompted only after he met Khanh Phuong, who owns production company A Fang Entertainment, two years ago.
A duet with Phuong, “Du tha thu cung khong xung dang” (Even if you are forgiven, you don’t deserve it) was received well on online music websites.
The success encouraged him to work on his first Vietnamese album with the help of Phuong and the Turkish Embassy in Vietnam.
The album, “Cau chuyen cua Aslan” (Aslan’s story), has seven songs, including six new pieces and the classic “Que huong” (Homeland) which, he said, gave him some sort of emotional relief from his homesickness.
Even though it is not clear how many copies of his album have been sold, it has won praise, both for his voice and his rendition of Vietnamese lyrics. The album recorded more than 211,000 hits on Zing MP3 – the country’s top music site.
Then, in January this year, just prior to Tet (Vietnam’s Lunar New Year), he released a single “Chuc Tet Viet Nam” (Happy New Year, Vietnam), which recorded over 846,000 hits on the same site.
Aslan, who now makes a living by trading in constructional materials, said the success of his products on music sites has encouraged him to work on his next projects.
“To be honest, I still cannot believe that I have been able to make my way back to showbiz, even if it is not as a comedian,” he said.
“I feel very grateful to my Vietnamese friends who praised my voice, encouraged me and supported me to pursue the career of singing here.”
The Turkish said his upcoming projects include Vietnamese folk music, after he discovered an affinity for them when recording several songs for Vietnam Television for Tet shows.
He is also making his way back to the stage as a comedian, after a meeting with Hoai Linh, one of the country’s top comedians, resulted in the offer of a few roles.
Aslan said he is well aware that the ability to speak a language fluently does not automatically mean the ability to become a comedian in that language, especially given the cultural gap.
“But, I am trying.”
The most important thing is that he has left his despondence behind.
“Honestly, when I first came to Vietnam, I totally lacked information about the country.
But, now I feel lucky that I made the right choice.”

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