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Ama by Yungchen Lhamo
Ama by Yungchen Lhamo


Among the world’s great singers, there are a rare few who become the voice of a nation. After a decade of rapturous performances, recordings and international acclaim, Yungchen Lhamo has become for many the voice of Tibet.

As anyone who has heard her sing can attest, Yungchen’s voice is an exquisite instrument. Free-flowing and enchanting, it can glide from a mesmerizing chant to a booming mountain call in the space of a breath. The pure sound of it can deliver its own message — one that goes beyond words.

On Ama, her third album for Real World Records, Yungchen again brings that voice to songs infused with the quiet spiritual power of Tibetan Buddhism, but with a decidedly 21st century global feel. Trumpet, strings, African kora, Middle Eastern percussion and the even, sweet tones of a National Steel guitar are delicately woven around Yungchen’s magical voice. With guest appearances by the British singer Joy Askew and the incomparable Annie Lennox, Ama becomes that rare destination where East really does happily meet West. No translators, or politicians, required.

Ama, which means ‘mother’ in the Tibetan language, is dedicated to Yungchen’s own mother, who raised her daughter amidst the violence and persecution of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. She was a woman who suffered greatly, whose father was killed and husband forced to flee, who was beaten and even lost children to hunger in labor camps, but, as Yungchen has said, “never talked about anger or revenge”. Those themes of struggle, suffering, peace and forgiveness – embodied in the life of her own Ama – remain at the heart of Yungchen’s life and work.

Musically, Ama builds on the adventurous melding of Tibetan songs with modern sounds and production so strikingly achieved on her previous album, Coming Home. The songs on Ama, all composed by Yungchen, and produced and arranged artfully by Jamshied Sharifi, move from lyrical to playful to mournful. Sharifi, an Iranian-American musician and composer from Kansas City whose knowledge ranges from jazz to film scores to Middle Eastern music, was evidently a perfect musical match for Yungchen. “He is a genius and very open-minded,” she says. “He has so many cultures.”

From lyrical prayers for Tibet and the Dalai Lama, to a playful song of courtship, to the haunting 9/11 (her prayer for those who died in the September 11th attacks), Ama is the musical document of a Tibetan exile now living in the melting pot of New York, translating the pure strains of her native art into a distinctly modern musical language.

A devout Buddhist, Yungchen is adamant about making her music for the benefit of all. All religions, she says, share the concept of sanctuary or refuge — found in meditation, in prayer or song — and that is the goal she keeps in mind for her music. She calls on the highest deities to bring blessings to those who hear her songs. That is a benefit one doesn’t often get with the price of a concert ticket or a CD.

One audio cd.

PRICE: $17.98

Stock Status:In Stock

Product Code: S-3167


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