Gregory Cahill and Kat Baumann‘s The Golden Voice: The Ballad of Cambodian Rock’s Lost Queen is coming from Humanoids’ Life Drawn imprint this October. The Golden Voice tells the life story of influential singer Ros Serey Sothea who rose to fame in 1960s Cambodia prior to her disappearance during the Khmer Rouge regime.

The Golden Voice will be available in bookshops October 10, and comic shops from October 11, 2023. Digital copies will also be available for purchase. The book will also come with a QR code that will allow readers to access a playlist of Ros Serey Sothea’s music.

According to the press release:

“There is a saying in Cambodia: Music is the soul of a nation.

“Perhaps no one embodied that spirit more than Ros Serey Sothea, a young woman who would forever change the landscape of Cambodian music as the Queen with the Golden Voice. From a humble rice farmer to superstar singer, Sothea’s success captured the hearts of the Khmer people. Throughout her life, she recorded over 500 songs, her signature angelic voice soaring over genres from traditional ballads to psychedelic rock and beyond.

“As war raged, Sothea continued to sing, even as she served as one of the country’s first female paratroopers but after years of bloody conflict, the Khmer Rouge seized control, murdering artists and destroying their music, and resulting in the disappearance of Sothea, whose true fate is unknown to this day.”

The title “Golden Voice” is no accident as the late King and Prime Minister of Cambodia Norodom Sihanouk had reportedly dubbed her “the golden voice of the royal capital”. Born 1948, Ros Serey Sothea’s career took off in the mid-to-late 1960s where she merged her singing style with outside influences from America and Europe to great popularity. She was disappeared during the Khmer Rouge purges sometime around 1977. 

Writer Gregory Cahill, who is also an Emmy Award winning producer, has been enthralled by the life and music of Ros Serey Sothea for some time – having already directed an award-winning 2006 short film about her life under the same title, The Golden Voice. This graphic novel, brought to life by illustrator Kat Baumann, acts as an expansion of this earlier story, with 17 years of additional research. It also benefits from the hand of designer Cindy Sous, music archivist and founder of the Cambodian Vintage Music Archive, Rotanak Oum, and the testimony of Ros Serey Sothea’s surviving family.

Ros Saboeun, elder sister of Ros Serey Sothea, said:

“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all those who have contributed to the emergence of THE GOLDEN VOICE, a book about my sister Ros Serey Sothea. On the occasion of the English version release, I raise my ten fingers and pray for its success. Let her beautiful voice fill the hearts of humanity all over the world.”

Cahill said,

“Ros Serey Sothea had a musical talent that was almost uncanny. She makes you feel her emotions within yourself, regardless of your language or generation. Not many singers possess that rare gift, and I believe that’s why her musical legacy has survived with such resilience. The Khmer Rouge endeavored to crush the human spirit, but her spirit was just too bright. I think the world is just a little bit better because she graced us with her gift for even a short time.”

Check out a preview of the forthcoming book: