(S2, Ep 9) In this week’s episode, Cambodian Artist and Musician, Punisa Pov joins me as my guest for the podcast. Punisa was born and raised in Cambodia. She has been living in the US, first as a college student in Iowa, and currently working as a resident musician and artist for the National Cambodian Heritage Museum the past few years. Punisa has been singing and playing music nearly her entire life, devoting her craft to honor Cambodian traditional music which was nearly destroyed during the time of the Khmer Rouge. In this interview, she talks about her music, as well coming to terms with the loss of her mother, and the importance of how her art has helped to teach and heal both elder and younger Cambodian Americans.
Bio: Punisa Pov is a Cambodian musician, who is currently a full-time musician with the National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial, where she teaches and performs. The Khmer Rouge executed 90% of artists, whom they specifically targeted to kill. Only a handful of master musicians survived the genocide. Punisa is one of the selective young musicians from Cambodia, who have been mentored by survived master musicians. She started learning the Pin Peat music and instruments at age of 12 in 2003 with the Cambodian Living Arts, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Punisa has consistently performed Cambodian classical and traditional music in Cambodia and in the U.S. She has also collaborated with contemporary musicians from Cambodia as well as from Europe and the U.S. Her Cambodian classical and traditional music classes introduce the joy of music to local Cambodians of all ages as well as to non-Cambodians. Her performances to the museum visitors always brings a poignant moment to remember that the music she plays was almost abolished during the Cambodian genocide, thus to signify the unique role that Punisa plays in the Museum and Memorial.