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How To Win A Hmong Singing Contest - Part 2


This part can make or break your performance. So do not take this part lightly.

Choose wisely. Here's how:

Tip #1: How to Choose A Song

When selecting a song, pick one that…

  • best showcases your true vocal range (leave that F6 you're still practicing at home),
  • you feel connected to (not your mom’s favorite song), and
  • you have genuine confidence in when you rehearse it (and I mean a full-out-no-hiding-behind-the-music-stand-kind-of-confidence).


Tip #2: Choose a song that's unlikely to be chosen by other contestants. 

I’ve seen and heard an increase of contestants choosing the exact same Hmong pop song to compete with, year after year. I'm sure you’ve noticed this too and could list a few of the titles that have been overused.

Truthfully, I think this works against you. Why?

It's a lot easier for the judges to compare you to another contestant if you both select the same song, especially if it's a popular song that many have competed with before. For example, if Tub Tuam and Nkauj Ntsum were competing in the same contest and chose the same song for the same round, the judges would most likely compare the two of them to each another rather than to the entire pool of contestants.

Instead of "How well did he sing compared to everyone else?", the question judges would be asking is, "Which of these two contestants sung the song better?" 

HINT: A song that's unlikely to be chosen is one that's not been sung in Hmong singing contests in the past several years. (Do your research on YouTube.)


Tip #3: Make your cover song (if you’re singing one) as original as possible.

Have a guest accompanist play alongside you. Compose a new version for the song. Value the original melody, but value your own originality even more. There’s no doubt you will be compared to the original artist, so why not stand out?

Listen to Lor Chang's cover of Mi Noog. Hear how he makes it is his own.


Tip #4: Go with your gut instinct.

Your mom, your sister, right up to other contestants you just met backstage will probably try to persuade you to sing another song that you (1) might not know/like or (2) might not have been prepared to perform.

If all else fails, including my tips above, go with what feels right to you from the inside.


Judge's Tip

If singing a certain song makes you feel uncomfortable, your audience (including me) will feel it too. Choose a song that makes you feel good while performing.

Bottom Line

You want to stick out, so choose a song that would least likely be chosen by others. Then make it your own.

Hope you enjoyed Part 2 of the “How to Win a Hmong Singing Contest” blog series. Feel free to leave me a comment/question in the comments below!

DISCLAIMER: The How to Win a Hmong Singing Contest blog series is a collection of Pagnia Xiong's personal experience with competing and judging for Hmong singing contests. It was first published in October 2013 and has since been updated with new insights & tips. Please note this blog series is simply a guide and any action whatsoever taken based on the contents of this website or any of its related sites, materials, products or information is to be used solely at your own discretion, risk and liability.

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How to Win A Hmong Singing Contest - Part 1