Mai Lee Vang Vue
Hmong kwv txhiaj
Kwv txhiaj (pronounced “kuetsia”) is improvised sung poetry that tells Hmong stories about history, love, and struggles through verse requiring extremely polished command of the Hmong language. Born on a farm in Laos, Mai Lee Vang Vue was taught as a child to sing kwv txhiaj by her mother and grandmother, who were well known for their excellent voices. Now living in Long Beach, Mai Lee is called upon to sing kwv txhiaj for Hmong New Year.
In 2002, Mai Lee was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program with her daughter and apprentice Pachia Vue, then 11 years old. The apprenticeship focused on increasing Pachia’s command of the Hmong language in order to enable her to create her own songs in this popular traditional art form that plays an important role in courtship and funerals.