Shong Keng Her
The qeej (pronounced gang) is a free-reed multiple pipe bamboo instrument used in the ritual practices of the Hmong. Replicating the tones and vowel sounds of the Hmong language, the qeej-player uses his instrument to communicate with the spirit world.
Shong Keng Her is often called to play the qeej at wedding and funeral ceremonies, for he is well known in his community in Fresno as the master player of Green Hmong songs on the qeej. Shong Keng learned to construct the qeej and to play the ritual songs as a teenager in Laos.
As a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2005, Shong taught his youngest brother, Boua Sou Her, his repertoire of Green Hmong wedding and funeral songs. Though White Hmong community members in Fresno have recorded and translated their qeej songs, the Green Hmong have not yet done so. While working with his brother, Shong Keng recorded and translated his music so that the repertoire of Green Hmong songs will also be preserved.