“The nomination came as a surprise and I feel lucky,” the monk popularly known as Lama Tashi, is quoted by AP as saying on February 3, 2006, before boarding a flight from India for Los Angeles. “I?m hopeful of winning the Grammy, but not tense,” said Tashi.
Tashi was born on February 22, 1968, in Arunachal Pradesh, North East India, bordering Tibet. As is the tradition with the Buddhist community residing along the Tibetan border, Lama Tashi entered the re-established Tibetan monastery of Drepung Loseling in South India in 1983. He began his formal religious studies in 1985. He subsequently studied the “Deep Voice” multi-phonic singing technique utilized in Tibetan Buddhist chanting. In 1993, his extraordinary abilities led to his selection as the Umzey, or Principal Chant Master, of the Monastery. Currently, he has retired from this position but is connected with the Central Institute of Himalayan Culture Studies in Arunachal Pradesh.
Reacting to the nomination, Lodi Gyari, the Special Envoy of H.H. the Dalai Lama, said, “It is wonderful that an ethnic Tibetan from the Monpa community in Arunachal Pradesh has been nominated for the highest award in music.” He added, “This shows the ever growing international understanding of and appreciation for the unique Tibetan culture”
Tibetan Master Chants was produced in 2005 and includes 12 well known Tibetan Mantras. Selections from the album can be heard here.
This is the third time Tibet-related albums have been nominated for the Grammy awards. In 1996, an album containing contribution from Tibetan musical artist Nawang Khechog was nominated. In 2004, the album, Sacred Tibetan Chants, by monks of the Sherabling Monastery in Himachal Pradesh won a Grammy.
The Grammy awards are presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. Established in 1957, the National Academy, also known as The Recording Academy, is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals dedicated to improving the quality of life and cultural condition for music and its makers.
More information on Lama Tashi is available on his website www.chantmaster.org.