After sporting career, blind singer-songwriter returns to first love

Apparently you had to be under a certain age and that age I was not, so they made me a new birth certificate,” he said.”My best friend from the orphanage got chosen to go to America and his plane crashed and he died — I could have been on that plane.”I just feel so lucky I’ve come to Australia and Australia’s provided me the opportunity to live the life I have now.”

Photo:
David Truong fell in love with both music and sport but pursued sport first. “Once you get established, which this event allows us to do, you can perhaps then go on and find gigs in the mainstream.”Ms Downes, who also identifies as an artist with a disability, said there were certain opportunities that came with organising an event outside the mainstream.”I like the fact that I’m able to bring in outside art and grassroots art, but also highly professional art that you wouldn’t normally see in mainstream venues,” she said. (Facebook: Undercover Artist Festival)
Truong and Ms Downes met and bonded over a love of music and she encouraged him to “see how far I could go”.He joined a choir run by Access Arts, a Brisbane organisation providing opportunities for people with disabilities in all forms of art, including music.Upon further encouragement from the choir’s leader, Annie Peterson, Truong took steps towards forming a band, which became Ambition Road.”I kind of roamed the streets of Fortitude Valley and South Brisbane and went to all the bars,” he said.”I just wanted to see what was happening in the live music scene and I heard a few musicians and I went and approached them.”Luckily for me, the musicians that I chose agreed.”‘The ability in artists with a disability’Truong and his bandmates are now working on a follow-up to Ambition Road’s 2016 debut Happy Laughter.He said events like the Undercover Artist Festival, which is accessible for both artists and audience members, were an opportunity to “showcase the ability in artists with a disability”. (Facebook: Buff Goldenrod)
In Australia, Truong was cared for by foster parents and in institutions before ending up in Melbourne at a school that provided facilities and education for people with vision impairments.As a teenager he fell in love with music but ultimately chose to pursue competitive sport, going on to represent Australia in both blind cricket and goalball — a team sport designed for people with vision impairments.”Obviously we’re not as high profile as the mainstream athletes that represent their country, but it’s no different to think that you are probably the best that your country is offering,” he said.”It’s a feeling you can’t describe — when you put on the baggy cap for cricket or the Australian shirt for goalball; it’s exhilarating to know you’ve got the opportunity to do that.”‘I wanted something else to focus on’But a career in competitive sport does not last forever, and Truong’s early passion for music came full circle when he met the director of this year’s Undercover Artist Festival, Harmonie Downes.”A few years ago my body told me it was time to give up the sport, even though my brain said I could go on forever,” Truong said.”I wanted something else to focus on and naturally I came back to the interest I had when I was a teenager and that was music.”

Photo:
David Truong is working with Yasmin Powell on Ambition Road’s second album. From his earliest memories of living in a Vietnamese orphanage to representing Australia in two sports, blind songwriter David Truong’s road to success as a musician has taken a few detours.The singer, songwriter and piano and keyboard player — who is completely blind — discovered music as a teenager, but only came back to it a few years ago when his time as a sportsman ended.Now well into recording his second album, Truong will perform with his band Ambition Road at this week’s Undercover Artist Festival in Brisbane, an event showcasing the work of artists with a disability.But his story begins at the end of the Vietnam War, when as a young boy he was living in an orphanage.”You may as well say I have been blind since birth as I don’t remember the first seven years of my life; in other words I don’t remember having sight at all.”I have been told I used to be able to see and there are a few stories on how I lost my sight.”One version is that I lost my sight due to malnutrition, and another story is that I got a stray bullet in my left eye which meant they had to remove a part of my left eye and my right eye was affected as well.”I don’t know which one to believe as it wasn’t documented.”A new birth certificate and a new lifeTruong was plucked at random to be part of an Australian scheme providing refuge for victims of the war.”They destroyed my birth certificate so I could come to Australia. External Link:

Ambition Road performs Happy Laughter from their first album.
Symphony of success for young regional musician

Related Story:
Map:
Brisbane 4000
ABC Radio Brisbane

By Eliza Buzacott-Speer

Posted

October 10, 2017 11:12:24

Photo:
David Truong’s early passion for music came full circle when he took it up later in life. (Supplied: Undercover Artist Festival)
Related Story:
Breaking down the stigma around musicians and mental health