Yungchen Lhamo: Awakening

May 18, 2022

From the Top

Listening Post 345. Like a mountain wind or a force of nature, Yungchen Lhamo’s voice gracefully and powerfully opens Awakening, her sixth album, demonstrating that beauty exists to direct our attention. In a rare convergence of planetary decay and pandemic, she suggests, all humanity faces the same existential challenge, highlighting how connected and interdependent we are. Surely this is the moment for healing, spiritual renewal, transformation—and action. Just as surely, music plays a role in worldwide mobilization. The singer-songwriter seems anointed to carry this message. Born and raised in Tibet, her name, bestowed by a Buddhist lama, means “Goddess of Melody.” In her twenties, to pursue her dream of singing, she crossed the Himalayas, carrying her baby son, to Dharamsala, the Indian city that hosts the Dalai Lama and Tibet’s government-in-exile. Lhamo has built her career on Tibetan folk and sacred songs and also incorporated sounds from the French, Russian, British, Iranian, American and other artists she has worked with. On Awakenings she sings in Tibetan and Mandarin Chinese and features Spanish musicians, guest vocals from flamenco singer Carmen Linares, plus blues and Indian touches. The songs break the global struggle into smaller pieces, from the title track’s emphasis on individuals realizing their own potential (video 1) to Nature’s Tears, stressing environmental protection (video 2) and Loving Kindness, focused on compassion (video 3). Home Is Wherever You Are reflects the artist’s philosophical take on her personal journey from Tibet to India, Australia and ultimately the United States (video 4); while Path to Awakening captures a lifetime’s fleeting instant (video 5). After her last album in 2013, Lhamo devoted herself to her One Drop of Kindness Foundation, helping the needy on three continents. Her majestic new album redirects a moment that called to her—to call on us. Perhaps if we listen as generously as she sings, the Earth will move. (Tibet Arts Management/Six Degrees Records)

Yungchen Lhamo: Awakening
Yungchen Lhamo: Vocals
Julio García: Conch shell trumpet, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, harmonium, percussion, backing vocals
Rodrigo Martin Munuera: Spanish guitar
Matthieu Saglio: Cello, backing vocals
Nantha Kumar: Tabla, thape drum
Javier Paxariño: Bamboo flute, sopranino saxophone
Osmay Torres: Violin
Julio Albertos: Transverse flute
Carmen Ros, Yani Martinelli, Mark Walden: Spoken words

Guest artist
Carmen Linares: Flamenco vocals


Lyrics & music: Yungchen Lhamo

(Sung in Tibetan)
From the album notes: May Covid cause humanity to better understand the interdependent nature of the modern world and all its people, and so strive to be more compassionate in our lives as we awaken to how brief a time we have on Earth. Awaken to suffering in its many forms, for humans (physical, sexual, mental abuse, exploitation of the weak, disease, poverty, wars, famine), animals (neglect, abuse, cruelty in factories, destruction of natural habitats), or for nature (pollution of the oceans, rivers, land, air). Alleviating global issues may seem insurmountable, but every small act of kindness helps. Awaken to your full potential to be the shining light in the darkness and of help to others.


Nature’s Tears
Lyrics & music: Yungchen Lhamo

(Sung in Tibetan)
Album notes: Our natural world is also suffering and cries out for us to protect the environment and to cherish all nature as ourselves. As often as you can, slow down, stop, and be one with nature.


Loving Kindness, feat. Carmen Linares
Lyrics & music: Yungchen Lhamo

(Sung in Tibetan and Spanish)
Album notes: To be truly compassionate, we need to understand what it is in our own mind that leads to our negative thoughts, feelings and emotions, and then to discover that by cultivating loving kindness we can bring healing and freedom from suffering for ourselves, our loved ones, and others.


Home Is Wherever You Are
Lyrics & music: Yungchen Lhamo, Lin Zhi Wei

(Sung in Mandarin Chinese)
Album notes: Where is your home? Is it the house, or apartment, or institution, or tent that you live in, or is it your body, perhaps? “Going home” really means being true to yourself, and then “being home” means that you will find happiness and fulfilment in life wherever you are.


Path to Awakening
Lyrics & music: Yungchen Lhamo

(Sung in Tibetan)
Your human life is precious, but death can come at any time, so awaken to the causes of suffering within you—pride, jealousy, desire, ignorance, greed and anger—and to the inner power of generosity, right conduct, forbearance, diligence, deep concentration meditation, and profound wisdom. Your awakening can be now, this very moment!



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