Bee Yang: Sally Award for Initiative

Bee Yang, my father, the song poet, accepts the Sally Award for Initiative, given by the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

Bee Yang was born in the high mountains of Laos in the break of the Laotian Civil War and grew up during America’s Secret War in Laos. As a child, he sat at the knees of the great song poets of his time. As a young man, Yang became a respected voice in song poetry for his people, singing the songs of their lived experiences, giving voice to their grief, channeling generations of hope and despair. In 1979 Yang and his family made their way to the refugee camps of Thailand where  he continued to sing the songs of his people, documenting their tragedies and yearning for home. In 1987, Yang came to St. Paul with his young family as part of the biggest wave of Hmong refugees to enter the country.  He continued to sing at Hmong New Year’s festivals and family gatherings. In 1992 he came out with an album of song poetry, Kwv Txhiaj Hmoob, Hmong Song Poetry. His second album, Thaum Hluas Txog Hnub Laus, When the Days of  Youth are Gone, was released in 2014. Earlier this year Yang was recognized as one of AARP’s 50 Minnesotans Over 50. He continues to practice Hmong song poetry for the elders who remember the times before, and also for young generations so they will not forget the beauty and artistry of the song traditions they come from.

Original article can be found here.

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Bee Yang

Hmong song poetry | kwv txhiaj hmoob

Thaum Hluas Txog Hnub Laus: When the Days of Youth are Gone (Bee Yang, 2014)

This is an album of Hmong song poetry, kwv txhiaj hmoob, composed and sung by Bee Yang, Kao Kalia Yang’s father. The album notes and English translation of one of the songs are by Kao Kalia Yang.

Kwv txhiaj is, in the words of Ralph Ellison on the American Blues, “an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-cosmic lyricism. As a form, the blues [and kwv txhiaj] is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.”

NOTE:  The duration of the songs do not reflect the actual song length.  Please consider ordering the CD for the full songs.  Thank you.

*This CD is available for purchase for $15.  Click below to order:


Bee Yang: Hmong Song Poetry



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