BIO

BIO

Tinh is an internationally-known Vietnamese guitarist, storyteller, and an award winning filmmaker. His projects had been featured on OPB and other PBS-affiliated stations.  Tinh was invited to the White House by President and First Lady George and Laura Bush and he performed at Washington D.C.'s Capitol Mall.

 

Tinh was born in Phan Thiet, Vietnam where his mother was involved with South Vietnam’s war effort and traveled around the country, leaving a younger sister and him with their grandmother. These were times of alternatively peaceful rural living and intensely frightful times of war. During the latter he huddled behind sandbags in the corner of his grandmother’s house as the orange glow of flares intruded upon the night sky, witnessing the exchange of fire raining down from a passing helicopter and shooting up from nearby ground forces.

Eventually his mother met and married an American who worked for the State Department while stationed in Vietnam.  Upon completion of his tour of duty, Tinh's new stepfather and his mother left for the U.S. with their new baby, leaving his sister and Tinh in the familiar care of his grandmother.

Just days before the fall of Saigon, Tinh and his sister were taken out of Vietnam to join his parents in the U.S.  Within three months of arriving from Vietnam, the family moved to Islamabad, Pakistan where Tinh's stepfather had been reassigned. After four years in Pakistan, Tinh moved with his family to Manila, Philippines where he completed his high school education.


The next summer Tinh's parents decided to take the family to see America. They flew to New York and visited with Tinh's father’s family, rented a car and traveled from New York down to Florida then west to Texas and Arizona. They finally drove up the California coast and north to Oregon where Tinh attended a summer camp held at Willamette University. Tinh fell in love with Willamette University as soon as he saw the campus. It was his dream to come back one day to go to school there.

In 1981 Tinh's dream came true. Although today’s campus is more diverse, especially with the presence of TIUA, at that time he might have been the only Asian student attending Willamette. Tinh has always loved music and this is when he began his guitar studies with harp guitarist John Doan.  

Tinh started to write music about Vietnam and his new life in America.  During Tinh's Junior Recital he shared this music for the first time. John Doan contacted the Statesman Journal and arranged for him to meet Ron Cowan - the Arts and Entertainment Editor. The next week the paper printed a full page interview with a color photo and the word was out about his recital. Usually such an event brings out a dozen or so loyal friends, but that night Tinh looked out at the audience, there were around 500 people. Tinh was not only impressed with the number of people who came out from the community but what really moved him was the busloads of children who were brought in from English as a Second language (ESL) programs in the nearby schools. There were children from Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia whose teachers had brought them to hear his music and stories. This was Tinh's first reconnecting back to his people and set the seed in his heart for what became known as The Village School Foundation.

While attending Willamette, Tinh was asked to open a show for a legendary folk-blues guitarist John Fahey. John soon became his friend and mentor for years to come even producing Tinh's first recording “My Vietnamese Suite.” After earning a bachelor of music degree, Tinh continued to use the guitar to express the intense emotions associated with his memories of a war-torn Vietnam.  Legendary pianist George Winston produced Tinh's second album entitled “Acoustic Rain”. Tinh also made a tribute album to Trinh Cong Son, an iconic Vietnamese singer whose pro-peace songs had been banned in Vietnam.  

In the Fall of 2002, with the help of many, Tinh founded the Village School Foundation, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization which builds schools and gives out scholarships to children in villages of Vietnam. The Village School Foundation built seven schools and gave out more than five hundred scholarships before dissolving. 


In 2007 Tinh worked with Emmy-winning director Emiko Omori to produced a movie entitled "7,500 Miles to Redemption". The story shared Tinh's work with the inmates of the Oregon State Penitentiary maximum security prison. Tinh's four-year journey with the inmates ended in a powerful story of transcendence. The film won for Best Short Film by a Northwest Filmmaker at the Eugene International Film Festival and was nominated for best documentary in Australia.  Tinh has gone on to create his own feature film entitled “Land Where My Heart Lies”.   

In June 2013 Tinh received the "Distinguished Alumni Award" from Willamette University.

Tinh has just finished another film entitled "The Khe Sanh Peace Garden", about a medevac helicopter pilot stationed in Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War.

Tinh is also working to finish recording his fifth solo album. Several new cuts are in "The Khe Sanh Peace Garden" soundtrack.