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Biography: Namgyal Lhamo

September 8, 2007

Namgyal Lhamo doesn't believe in holding back. And she never wants to. Whether it's singing from the gut on her upcoming debut album In Silent Flight, broadening her talents with a dabble in direction on a Tibetan short film, adding the entire globe to her performance credits, expanding her social consciousness through her restaurant "De Werfkring" or enjoying solitude, there's an apparent grace and attitude to Namgyal Lhamo that's both admired, awed and signature.

Namgyal Lhamo (1956) became a professional singer at the age of ten when she and her younger sister were selected among the many children of the Tibetan refugee community in Dharamsala (North India), to join the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. An Institute founded by the Dalai Lama to preserve in exile the cultural traditions of Tibetan music, dance and opera. There, she went through higher education according to the traditional Tibetan ways and in addition she was trained in music, dance, opera.

Soon she also performed for the public. As a very talented child Namgyal Lhamo almost immediately became one of the star performers of the Institute. During the fourteen years of further training under the most famous music and opera masters from the old Tibet, she became well versed in all the aspects of Tibetan classical and folk songs, dance and opera. As leading star of the Tibetan opera, she toured many times not only India, but throughout Asia, Australia, the United States and Europe. Apart from performing she worked for the Institute as a teacher to train new generations of students.

Since the 1980s Namgyal Lhamo lives in the Netherlands, still pursuing the mission to preserve the Tibetan culture. In 1996 she took up again actively her artistic career, by taking small roles in the movie Seven Years in Tibet and singing Tibetan Songs at the Tibet Freedom Concerts in New York (1997), Washington (1998) and Amsterdam (1999).

She toured in 1998 through Holland, Germany and Belgium with Tibet Impressions and participated in global manifestations such as Earth Dance, World Artists for Tibet, the 50th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. In 1998 and 1999 she performed on several occasions during the Tintin in Tibet Exhibition in Holland and performed on various European Radio and TV programs.

With Dorothee Forma she made the Radio Program "Oh, Tibet". In 1999 she was the inspiration for and lead figure in a production for Dutch Television on Tibetan culture in exile, "Seven Dreams of Tibet".

Namgyal Lhamo sings and accompanies herself on the Tibetan lute (dranyen) and celesta (gyumang). She also has a group Gangchenpa (People from the Land of the Snow). In October and November 1999 Gangchenpa toured the United States, giving several concerts in Hawaii and Los Angeles

Namgyal Lhamo is culturally and spiritually Tibetan. Though traditionally Asian, Namgyal’s incredible understanding of her song structures, melody and pitched soon broke through linguistic and cultural barriers creating a sense of acceptance towards culturally alternative music in the western world.

And while her songs sound phenomenal they can also send chills up and down your spine. "My absolute favorite thing to do is perform. It doesn't matter if there are two people in the audience; I just love to do it," she says.

When reflecting back on her 20 years as a professional singer/songwriter/performer, Namgyal knows what she's most proud of. "My biggest accomplishment is gaining international recognition while being able to maintain my anonymity and solitude," she says. And although Namgyal always represents Tibet, she sees music's ability to stretch beyond borders and boundaries.

Her second album, In Silent Flight, is an honest representation of Namgyal's definitive Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow blend of street folk and POPOP (popular opera). "From here on. I only do what I really want to and love first."

That's the Nam Lha rule."

Official Web Site: www.namgyallhamo.com

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