Filed under: Cambodia
It is not known how many songs that Sinn Sisamouth recorded during his lifetime, but from 1972 to 1973 alone he published 500 songs. And that number does not include the songs he did for movie soundtracks or the duets he recorded with Ros Sereysothea and Pan Ron. The total number is estimated in the thousands, including many of which that were never released and only have recently been discovered.
Besides being an accomplished songwriter, he was also a composer as well. He was known to use the Mandolin to search for rhythms to songs he was thinking of composing, and only later did he match lyrics to these rhythms. He was also known to have utilized up to three different dictionaries in searching for just the right word in the Khmer, Sanskrit or Pali language to include in his songs.
His fame and success led His Royal Majesty Treyany to ask him to work for the king’s band, which he did until the coup d’état against Cambodia’s royal government in 1970. He then joined the Ministry Band of the Khmer Republic.
When the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, along with the millions of other residents, Sinn Sisamouth was forced to leave the city. But he later decided to return, due to health problems with his second wife and to see if he could work for the Khmer Rouge government, then known as Democratic Kampuchea. That is the last known information of the life of Sinn Sisamouth…
There are many rumors concerning his death. It is not known for certain that he died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, but some people suspect that the Khmer Rouge may have killed him along the road between Wat Champa and Phnom Penh, since most Cambodians who tried to return to Phnom Penh were killed. Only industry workers who possessed skills useful to the Khmer Rouge were spared; but when they outlived their usefulness, they too were butchered. Before the Khmer Rouge killed him, some people claim Sisamouth requested he be allowed to sing a song. He expressed himself as sincerely as possible through his music, but the Khmer Rouge soldiers were unmoved, and, after he finished singing, they killed him anyhow.
Of Sinn Sisamouth’s three living children, only one has decided to make singing a profession. Sin Chaya, Sisamouth’s son, is currently a singer for the Cambodian Radio. He himself admits, however, that his singing cannot compare to that of his talented father. The only thing Sin Chaya claims to have inherited from Sisamouth was the desire and destiny to be a professional singer.
Catalog number 45-5044 on Wat Phnom Disques of Cambodia. No release date listed.