AR-Resident Mai Khoi hosted at the AR-Safe Haven Helsinki

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We are happy to welcome Mai Khoi, the flamboyant Vietamese pop-star, as our new short-term resident at AR-Safe Haven Helsinki. Mai Khoi gained a reputation as a singer and musician, and became internationally recognized as a human rights, LGBTI+ and pro-democracy activist. As a result of her dissident stances and interventions, she has been shunned, prosecuted and persecuted in Vietnam, and has been banned from public performances.

Don’t miss Mai Khoi’s gigs in Helsinki:

Malaga Bar on the 16th of March:

G Livelab on the 25th of March:


Mai Khoi is a Vietnamese pop star, singer and musician. She has been a professional musician since she was 12, when she started playing the piano in a wedding band with her father, a music teacher in the coastal city of Nha Trang.

Her music is inspired on a wide variety of influences. From traditional Vietnamese folk to blues, soul and rock, Mai Khoi seamlessly blends disparate styles and rhythms. Her music is also distinct in terms of its emotional range, her wide vocal register as well as the distinct tonal qualities of her voice.
In 2010, Mai Khoi won Vietnam Television Song and Album of the Year Award, the highest award for song writing in the country. After winning the award, she shaved half of her hair off and inscribed the letters ‘VN’ for ‘Vietnam’, the name of the awarded song, on the side of her head – the media establishment reacted harshly to that provocation.

No stranger to controversy, Mai Khoi is somewhat of an anomaly for a celebrity in a Communist country like Vietnam for speaking out about sexuality, LGBT rights and violence against women. Mai Khoi broke international headlines in 2016 after she became the first Vietnamese celebrity in history to nominate herself for the National Assembly (equivalent to congress) on a pro-democracy platform. Despite her short-lived candidacy, her nomination and her unfair disqualification sparked debates unlike anything seen in recent Vietnamese elections. This campaign sparked a nationwide debate about political participation and ultimately led to a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. Since running for parliament she has been harassed by the police (her concerts have been raided and she has repeatedly moved house) and is effectively banned from singing in Vietnam.


Mai Khoi has toured the USA, Europe and Australia, and is charting a highly independent path. Despite the backlash at home, Khoi is a prolific artist who has released seven albums to date and is planning a new album with her band, Mai Khoi and The Dissidents—a group that could best be described as free jazz meets ethnic music—in 2018.

Read more about May Khoi’s work process (in Finnish).


Check out her work: (personal/ political) (music)

ALBUM – Dissent – Live at Phù sa lab – Mai Khôi


Mai Khoi is an Artists at Risk (AR) Resident, hosted in cooperation with SafeMuse at AR-Safe Haven Helsinki is curated by Perpetuum Mobile(PM) as part of Artists at Risk (AR). The AR-Network is curated by Perpetuum Mobile (PM) and is coordinated by the AR-Secretariat, co-funded by Kone Foundation. This residency funded by the Department of Culture of Helsinki City.

Mai Khoi’s performances in Helsinki are being co-hosted and programmed in cooperation with the Finnish Music Council / Finnish Musicians’ Union, and funded by a Perpetuum Mobile grant from the Finnish Cultural Fund (SKR).


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