February 11-14, 2015, Albuquerque, New Mexico photo (2) pop culture conference

Cambodia experienced a flourishing musical heyday in the 1960s and 70s, with eclectic musical influences from all over the world. The popular singers of the time incorporated musical genres such as bossa nova, jazz, rock, and later punk rock with traditional Khmer musical styles and dances. Because of their Western influence many of these performers became the target of the Khmer Rouge regime. Yet appropriation of influences from other countries was seen nonjudgmentally by performers and audiences and celebrated as a manifestation of Cambodian creative talent. Many now question contemporary Cambodian and particularly Cambodian American musical appropriation from American Hip Hop culture and pop music. The last five years have seen the rise of many Cambodian American artists. The “1.5 generation” (those arriving on American soil as children) and the second generation are now voicing the Cambodian experience through their music, addressing community, family, the Khmer Rouge era, the urban poverty struggle, the struggles of being Asian in America,. This paper analyzes these themes expressed by musicians at the first Cambodian American Music Festival held in August 2014 in Los Angeles. The paper will examine the common forces that drive these artists: collaboration, a positive outlook, a strong music community bond, and the need to distinguish themselves from the Asian label to create a specifically Cambodian voice. http://conference2015.southwestpca.org/content/linda-saphan