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“Not a job, but a calling” How singer Melanie Nga My uses music to honor frontline workers

“Not a job, but a calling” How singer Melanie Nga My uses music to honor frontline workers
July 20
16:56 2020

Nga My and Chau Dinh An’s song has received more than 100,000 views on Youtube.

Nga My is a frontline worker, seen here in her personal protective equipment.

(Hong Ta – Northwest Vietnamese News) 

Countless essential workers have risked their lives to fight the pandemic. However, we do not spend enough time thanking them for their work and sacrifice. One way essential workers have been given recognition is through song. Esteemed songwriter Chau Dinh An wrote “A Million Words of Gratitude” nurse practitioner Melanie Nga My performed it to thank frontline workers. 


Nga My never thought she would be a public figure in music. She began her career in 2012 when she entered Asia Entertainment Golden Voice contest and won third place. In 2014, she became a Summa Health System idol in 2013 and raised $15,000 to contribute to the Akron Canton Food Bank.  This experience changed the way she saw the potential singing could bring.  She says “the fact that I was able to use my voice to help the less fortunate made me very happy. I have opportunities to travel around the world performing on big stages and meeting new audiences. It is rewarding to know that my presence and voice can make people happy.” Since then, she has continued her career as a singer and has continued to make an impact in her community. 


She is also a nurse practitioner in Cleveland, Ohio. She has finished her bachelor’s and master’s. Currently, she is working and attending higher education, as she is now pursuing her PhD.  When asked about her work, she said she enjoys helping others “I feel privileged to be able to practice medicine. I feel honored to serve my community when it needs the most care, specifically for vulnerable patients. This is an opportunity for me to fulfill my oath, help people, and save lives.” However, she also faces personal difficulties in her line of work. She says “During a time like this, it is not a job but a calling…The coronavirus pandemic exacerbates the stress and affects our mental health and well-being. I often find myself these days finding ways to cope with stress, anxiety, and to build resilience”. To Nga My, the pandemic is personal.  She spoke about the toll COVID-19 has put on her and her family, especially her mother: “she asks that I call her every day to let her know that I’m OK. She says that she is not able to sleep at night praying for my safety. When I am taking care of an elderly female patient, I often think of my mom.”


She has been passionate about singing from a young age and uses music as an escape to reduce stress and express her emotions. She says she can’t imagine living without music. That’s why when she discovered the lyrics of the song “A Million Words of Gratitude,  they touched her heart. This song has made an impact on the Vietnamese community. Trang, the owner of Thai A Chau Hair and Makeup, was Nga My’s makeup artist for her show at the Langston Theatre. After listening to the song she said Nga My has “a kind and loving heart and has a warm voice that easily enters people’s hearts.” Her song has also received acclaim from the director of VietNam Radio in North California, Ha Van. She said: “Nga My has a youthful voice and has the effect to bring up the past for listeners to experience and discover their lost memories.”


While musicians today might not have a stage to perform on, they use virtual platforms to spread their work. Dang Minh, an editor at Asia Entertainment chose to feature the song on their YouTube channel because they wanted to “express [their] gratitude to everyone to everyone who puts their own lives at risk to serve society during this difficult time”. Since Asia Entertainment’s production house is closed, they created the video after Nga My submitted her music that she recorded live in her home studio. They then added footage to visualize the song. Minh says “It’s a simple video, but the lyrics and the vocal are what makes it meaningful.” The writer of this song, Chau Dinh An, also spoke about the process in an interview with Radio Vietnam: “While I did write this song, I also had to hold back tears a couple of times because she sang with sincerity and emotion. Moreover, I know she’s  a physician and is on the front line to help others, and has been through dangerous experiences.”

Nga My also personally emphasized how many frontline workers lay down their lives caring for others during this pandemic. However, there are still individuals who are refusing to wear a mask and follow face-covering requirements. When asked about this, she said “The virus doesn’t care whether or not you are rich or poor. If you don’t want to wear masks when going outside and being around others, you should stay home.”  As a healthcare professional, she recommends taking preventative measures, getting adequate sleep and exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet to slow down the spread of COVID-19. It is critical our community follow these guidelines to protect frontline workers and those around us. 


Hong Ta – NVTB


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