Kak Channthy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kak Channthy (c.1980 – 20 March 2018) was a Cambodian singer and vocalist of the band Cambodian Space Project.[1] She has been described as "the barefoot diva of the Cambodian rice fields".[1][2]


Channthy was born into war and poverty as the only daughter of army tank driver Reach Lon and grew up poor in Prey Veng Province, a rural area in Cambodia, before moving to Phnom Penh. She formed the Cambodian psychedelic rock band "The Cambodian Space Project" with her Australian husband Julien Poulson and worked as the lead singer and songwriter releasing 5 albums and touring 24 countries around the world.[2]

Inspired by Cambodian singers of the 1960s and early 1970s, "Cambodia's golden age", Cambodian Space Project lead an astonishing arts and cultural revival in Cambodian and are one of the few Cambodian rock bands to find success outside of their own country.[1] Channthy collaborated with a range of artists including Dennis Coffey of Motown Funk Bros who she worked with to produce and record her seminal third LP "Whisky Cambodia". She twice recorded duets with iconic Australian poet laureate Paul Kelly on the songs "The Boat" - a song dealing with the issue of asylum seekers and included on 2013's Key of Sea compilation, in 2017 she recorded again with Kelly a re-working of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra's classic "Summer Wine". Channthy was fond of French chanson and collaborated with Bad Seed Mick Harvey on the Serge Gainsbourg track "Contact", as well as, covering and regularly performing France Gall's classic "Laisse Tomber Les Filles" in her live set.

Kak Channthy and her then husband Julien Poulson were the subject of a BBC Storyville documentary Rise of a Pop Diva, a program also released to cinema as the documentary The Cambodian Space Project. She also had several side-projects including Australian Khmer hip hop group Astronomy Class with whom she recorded and released the album "Mekong Delta Sunrise" and in 2016 she formed all Khmer band "Channthy Cha-Cha" in which she experimented with romantic Khmer ballads from artists such as Sinn Sisamouth and Pen Ran, adding a funk twist.[3]

She died in March 2018 at the age of 38 when the auto rickshaw she was travelling in was hit by a car.[2] The driver who caused the collision was charged with negligent driving causing unintentional injury and death.[4]


Cambodian Space Project

  • 2011: A Space Odyssey (2011)
  • Not Easy Rock & Roll (2012)
  • Whisky Cambodia (2014)
  • Radio Cambodia (2015)
  • Electric Blue Boogaloo (2015)
  • Spaced-Out in Wonderland (2017)


  1. ^ a b c "Kak Channthy: The Cambodian Space Project and a rock revival". BBC News. 21 March 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Kelley, Sonaiya (26 March 2018). "Kak Channthy, Cambodia's 'Amy Winehouse', dies in car crash at 38". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  3. ^ Kreems, Nisa (27 March 2018). "Sounds Like: Cha-cha-chá with Cambodia's Kak Channthy". Straatosphere. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  4. ^ Chheng, Niem (26 March 2018). "Driver charged in crash that killed singer Kak Channthy". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 26 March 2018.

External links[edit]