About a year ago, I was perusing YouTube as I often do and found myself searching for cover versions of the song, “The Shadow of Your Smile.” No reason other than that tune was on my mind.
The song is also known as the “Love Theme from The Sandpiper,” a popular 1965 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Singer Tony Bennett won a Grammy for his rendition of the song, and Barbara Streissand, among others, also have popular covers.
So, I come across this Vietnamese version of “Shadow.” I gave it a listen and instantly fell in love with the vocal qualities of the singer, Dalena. Her strong, soulful voice soars crisply above a jazzy-bossa beat. Half the song is in English and the other half in Vietnamese (I wish it were all in English, but I digress).
Based on a few snapshots, I guessed that Dalena was “hapa,” which is half Caucasian and half Asian, in this case Vietnamese. But I was so wrong. She was born Dalena Morton and raised in Orlando, Fla. There is not one drop of Asian blood in this woman’s DNA.
In the past two decades, Dalena has become a major star and recording artist of popular Vietnamese songs. She has built a nice music career around this Southeast Asian language. From what I can gather, Dalena is much adored in the Vietnamese community — worldwide.
And she doesn’t even speak Vietnamese.
What a fascinating twist on the foreign singer finding success with English songs. Check out a few of Dalena’s YouTube videos, especially her version of “The Shadow of Your Smile.” I’m betting it will put a smile on your face.