Promised Land

by Minnasia

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Note: the song "Promised Land" is available for free download.

Promised Land is a one-man mini-musical originally written by Minnasia vocalist Bob Yang in his native Hmong language. It is a story of a Hmong family's exodus from southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. There are four scenes in the musical, each scene comprised of a monologue and a song, describing a situation that one of the family members encounter in their journey.

Bob received a grant from the state of Minnesota to put together a recording and a public performance. He asked Ari to arrange and produce the recording -- and Ari ended up writing the English lyrics to the songs as well, resulting in it becoming a Minnasia project.

The English lyrics are not direct translation of the Hmong versions. Rather, they were meant to simply convey the spirit of the original songs, so that they can be appreciated on their own without knowing the details of the story.

Because of the nature of this project, this recording features classical and Asian influences prominently. The all-acoustic band features a cello and a flute in addition to the rhythm section, backing Bob's lone voice.

Included in the album purchase are four songs in original Hmong, so you can enjoy the songs as they were originally intended to be, in addition to the English versions.


released December 23, 2013

Written originally in Hmong by Bob Yang
English lyrics: Ari Koinuma
Overture & Finale written by Ari Koinuma

Produced, arranged & mixed by Ari Koinuma
Mastered by Greg Reierson @ Rare Form Mastering

Band recording engineered by Eric Blomquist @ Waterbury Studios, Minneapolis, MN
Vocal & guitar engineered by Ari Koinuma

Bob Yang: vocal
Tetsuya Takeno: drums & percussion
Aaron Fabrini: bass
Daniel Zamzow: cello
Melissa Stoudt: flute
Ari Koinuma: acoustic guitar

Cover photo by Judd Sather @ Studio J Photo, Stillwater, MN

Bob Yang is a fiscal year 2012 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This project is funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Legislature from the state's arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.


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Minnasia Saint Paul, Minnesota

We are exploratory songsmiths in search of healing catharses.

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Track Name: Sister

With all of my heart
And all of my soul
And all that I have
I cling to you with all might

With all that I am
And all that I own
I give myself away
To have you last with me tonight

Hold me, don’t go
Please hold me, don’t let go
You are the sun that never sets
With you, I face any foe
So don’t let me go

Cold nights, they will end
If we hold our hands
My love, be brave, when you are weak
Let’s entwine like a knot of strands

They will not stand any chance
Against the strongest of our bonds
We’ll dance like humming birds
From flower to flower, tree to tree

No, don’t let me go
You’re the sun that never sets
With you I’d face any foe

Don’t look away from me
Will you please don’t let me go

Note: In Hmong, "sister" is a term used to convey romantic affection to a woman in a similar manner to English speakers using words like "honey," or "sugar."
Track Name: Sun
Knew all along this day would come
Shadows of our past would shatter our way
With a little brush and heavy blades
Our defending walls would be torn away

With all our might
lully lully lu
We sing this song to heaven
Praying for our love to last the night
Crying for a way to a light

Knew all along this day would come
When our precious dew would dry in the sun
O glimmer of hope don’t leave us behind
End the famine, end our need to run

With all our might
lully lully lu
We sing this song to heaven
Praying for our love to last the night
Cyring for a way to a light
Track Name: River
Father, did you see my boat on the river?
Did you ever think I’d come this far?
When you think of me as a man
Do you see me crawl or shine bright like a star?

Mother did you see me dive in the river?
Did you ever think I’d be as brave?
When you think of me as a man
Do you see me fall or flow free like a wave?


Sister, don’t you cry when we part our ways
Did you ever think you’d hold you own?
Reach out to the woman within
Toss aside pale skin, find a strength of a stone, of a stone


Take my soul into your heart
You and I will reach the sea
No more restraint, and no more strife
You and I will be free

Track Name: Promised Land
Oh do not despair
Embrace a life unfair
The other side awaits
Soon we’ll pass the last of gates

Flower fields rejoice
Even as the roots are soiled
The songs of our past ought carry forever
The path our forebearers toiled

Oh do not despair
Take in the morning air
Sink your feet in the cold dew
Mark the step, embrace the life anew

Dearest father, dry your eyes
Mother, break this thread of shame
Though we may part the sea
Our colors are ne’er the same

Oh do not despair
Take in the sights so fair
My heart will always long for home
How ever far we may roam

Sons and daughters, stand tall
Don’t surrender or fall
Sing a song to cease this war
Our spirits soar evermore

Oh do not despair
Embrace a life unfair
The other side still awaits
Soon we’ll pass the very last of gates

Oh do not despair
Embrace this life unfair
My heart longs for home
Where all strifes end
No more regrets to send
We’ll let our blood take a stand
Promised Land, O Promised Land
I see you at last

If I ever had a dream
I pray this love to last

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