LAURA TEVARY MAM
This year’s top honor goes to the fastest-rising musical talent in Khmer America—San Jose’s Laura Mam. While at UC Berkeley, Mam was already generating buzz in her circle, performing for YouTubers and at Cambodian Student Association functions. But not until the formation of the all-girl quartet The Like Me’s did Mam’s music career blossom. Two viral tracks in 2010 paved the way: an original Khmer song, co-written by Mam’s mother Thida Buth, called “Pka Proheam Rik Popreay” released in February and a hip remake of the Pan Ron classic “Sva Rom Monkiss” in April. And 750,000 views later, Cambodia began calling, not once but three times—for concerts, interviews, and public appearances. With her trailblazing success, Mam has prompted a new willingness in Cambodia to open its arms to creative professionals from overseas. “My goals as a Cambodian American artist are focused solely on bridging the gap between the diaspora and our homeland,” Mam told Khmerican from Paris. “It is my greatest hope that others can follow a bridge I am building so that those abroad can come and fall in love with our home in the same way I did and contribute to national growth.” With that goal in mind, Mam has set 2013 as the year to return to her acoustic roots; she will be going public with a new solo EP in English and Khmer. Furthermore, Mam has a Khmer documentary project in the works to be announced shortly. “This year is definitely going to be a ‘work hard, play hard’ kind of year,” said Mam.