Thursday, April 30, 2009

In review--Soaring Plateau

World Village

When Tibetan vocalist Yungchen Lhamo performed at WOMAD USA in 1998, she introduced me to Tibetan music. Her perilous journey across the Himalayas and her stellar vocals captured my attention. Vocalist Soname also hails from Tibet and she also fled Chinese-ruled Tibet, via Nepal, then India and finally landing in Brighton, England where she cleaned houses for a living. In 1998, she made her vocal debut and in 2000, she recorded her first album with borrowed money.

Plateau, to be released on World Village this May, showcases this mezzo-soprano’s gorgeous and powerful voice. I could make a comparison between Lhamo and Soname, I would say that Lhamo’s vocals soar in the ethereal realm and Soname’s vocals feel earthy. And on Plateau, table beats punctuate and bansuri flute frames Soname’s amazing vocals. The opening track combines the best of India and Tibet, musically speaking. The closing track features some of the most passionate vocals I have heard in a long time, if ever. Wow!

The songs on this album focus mostly on the natural world, but even so, we as listeners are reminded of the plight of the Tibetan people. It’s impossible not to hear Soname’s personal triumphs in these songs. Therefore, this relaxing album provides inspiration to anyone who faces obstacles, financial or otherwise. Most of us will never have to cross the Himalayas with Chinese soldiers in pursuit, nor will we have to leave a precious child behind with relatives in order to make this dangerous journey. And how many stories have you heard lately about a cleaning lady making it to the world music stage? Soname’s story is the stuff of dreams made reality.

World Village

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