Jintara Poonlarb

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Jintara Poonlarb (จินตหรา พูนลาภ) is morlam’s reigning star, a world-class singer of exceptional vocal dynamics, phrasing, range, and pitch.  There is very little written on Jintara in English. This page will address her biography, her recordings, and live performance logistics. In addition, please visit my morlam page, which describes the culture and music. For more on Thai culture in general, visit www.thaioasis.com




Jintara was born on March 12, 1971,in the village of Moo Baan Chanthung, district of Ka Vi Sai, in the province of Roi-Et.  Jintara relates the following, excerpted from an interview she gave in Germany in 2002.   Her words describe her sometimes painful transition from rural to urban life:

    "Since I was young I enjoyed singing very much. People in my village gave me compliments and said that my voice sounded great and that I should become a singer…

    "When I was still a very young teenager I already performed with a Morlam theater group. It was a small group called "Mek Khala" in my home town Roi-Et. I joined this group together with my brother. After being with that group for some time I participated in a singing contest at the Khon Kaen Silk Fair which is the annual festival of the province. That time I did not win but there was a DJ who saw me and heard my voice. He seemed to like it so he introduced me to the boss of the record company, Khun Chai Sribualert. He has been my boss since the first album until now…

    "The first time I performed on a real stage was the great concert "Isaan Khiew" - 'Green Isaan' which was a concert organized for promoting the Isaan Khiew project of Thailand aiming at developing the drought areas of Isaan… Many (super star singers) performed at that concert. They both were very nice to me being the newcomer. They took me by my hands and led me to the stage. I was so excited that I could not speak a single word at that moment. Working as a singer (at) a big record company, I had to wear very fashionable clothes. Sometimes I thought that was too much for a young girl from the Isaan country side like me. At the Isaan Khiew concert, I had to wear a shoulder-free blouse, I thought I could not wear it, it was just too 'daring'. But… two super stars told me that it looked nice and I should wear it. Finally, I had to get dressed and go out to perform at that great concert.

    "Then the second exciting situation for me was my first performance at "Ched See Concert" - also named 'The seven-coloured concert' on the Thai TV channel 7. At that time I could not yet speak the central Thai language very well because I had just arrived from Isaan where we used to speak our Isaan dialect in our daily life. When I talked and mixed some typical Isaan expressions with the central Thai words some people were watching the concert (most of them came from Isaan too) started joking and yelling at me because of my confusion and my silliness of mixing the two languages. Those were my very first experiences with performing concerts

    "I came from Isaan and started working in the big city Bangkok. I had to learn a lot to adapt myself to the city life. I met a lot of people and I tried to learn by watching them how they acted and how they talked. I learned how to deal with different kinds of people and how to behave in front of the audience. But one thing has never changed. I am still a rather shy person, you cannot change it. What has changed is that now I have more self-confidence and I know more about my role as a singer. And of course my living conditions are now much better than at the beginning of my career.

    "When I was a young girl I used to dream of becoming a famous singer. But it seemed so unreal when I lived in my far-away village."

    Concert behind Wat U Thai, Bangkok, May 8, 2003
    photo by Geoff Alexander


    In addition to morlam, Jintara sings lukthung, string, and several other Thai popular song forms.  Most of her CDs include a mixture of styles.  Rather than purchasing music-only CDs, Westerners are suggested to buy video CDs (VCDs), which include Jintara visuals, acted story sequences, and Thai subtitles.  Mike Simpson's English-Thai Dictionary is a handy tool for spot translations.  VCDs are in MPEG1 format, and can be played on commonly found computer-based media players.

    Jintara began recording CDs for Thailand's Grammy company.  There were 20 of them, and none were video-versioned for VCD.

    She then moved to Master Tape, where the Grammy numbering sequence continued, from 21 to 25.  Again, these are music-only CDs.

    Her first VCDs are numbered 1 through 7, and Master Tape refers to them as "Luk Tung Sa On".  Master Tape also sells nearly identical music-only CDs with virtually the same covers, so western buyers should ensure that the words "VCD" or "Karaoke" appear on the cover.

    Master Tape has begun a new series of Jintara CD/VCDs, beginning, confusingly enough, with number 1. 

              Concert behind Wat U Thai, Bangkok, May 8, 2003
              photo by Geoff Alexander


    Jintara performs each year from September through May.  Each show lasts approximately three hours, and consists of opening acts featuring comedians and dancers.  She performs approximately 15 songs, and appears last.  Her company consists of over 200 people, traveling in two buses and nine trucks.  Of the performers, approximately 55 will be dancers, 8 comedians, and 12  musicians.  Jintara's manager is JangGo, who began his career as a DJ, is also a song writer (Jintara Taam Kao) and appears on stage as well.  Khun Somsak serves as traveling manager, responsible for sound, lights, and setting up and removing staging, a task which often doesn't end until 6 am the day following the previous evening's concert.  Concerts are held generally in open-air lots, and ticket prices usually run from 40-120 baht ($ 1.00 - 3.00 USD).  Her 2003 show is documented on new series VCD 1, Master Tape G-0846068.  In addition, she performs occasionally with String star Thongchai 'Bird' McIntyre.  Their Fun Fair concerts of 2002 (with additional singers Nat Myria and Kat English) are available on Grammy VCD G- 0846086.

    A new Jintara show is taken on the road every year.   In mid-June, rehearsal for dancers begins, and the full troupe commences rehearsing at the beginning of August, for early September concert launch.  While actual pay figures are unknown, typical morlam and lukthung traveling troupes such as Jintara's pay their dancers 50 baht per day during rehearsal (food included), and 300 baht per actual show (no food included).  Comedians get a little more, and musicians are paid more than comedians.

    Jintara has performed in Germany, the U.S., (San Francisco), and Canada (Vancouver).  Her North American performances took place in Thai restaurants, and she sang a capella, without accompanying musicians, dancers, or comedians.

    The Thai-only website at www.jintarafanclub.com lists concert information, press releases, and details on current and past recording projects.

    --- Geoff Alexander, 2003

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