Yungchen Lhamo turns music into an offering

“We all love to be happy, we don’t want to be suffering,” says Tibetan singer Yunchen Lhamo. Lhamo showcases her values of healing and of joy with her upcoming spiritual-inspired performance.

“I think, collectively, we can heal and we can send love to the world,” Lhamo says, about her upcoming shows.

Lhamo has seen solid success in her career. Collaborating with hugely popular figures such as U2’s Bono and Peter Gabriel, who also signed her to his record label.

This Vancouver performance, which takes place Jan. 25 at Capilano University’s Blueshore Financial Centre, is part of her upcoming North American tour.

Healing through music

Her most recent album, One Drop of Kindness, which was released last fall, is dedicated to happiness and celebration. The mix of acapella and instrumental songs are rooted in her Buddhist spiritual practice. Lhamo says this album reflects on the pandemic and how it brought the world together through suffering, but also through life.

“The pandemic brought us all together and we all went through it together. […] This is really more of a celebration, celebrate our life, celebrate that we are alive,” she says.

Yungchen Lhamo. | Photo courtesy of Capilano University.

While One Drop of Kindness looks ahead, it is linked to its predecessor, the 2022 album Awakening. Awakening was born during the COVID-19 pandemic and is reflective of that time period. She says awakening as a concept is deeply rooted in Tibetan ideas about looking at things in different ways and questioning life itself. Lhamo says to understand what awakening means we have to understand what life means.

These sorts of big questions are tenets of her spirituality, though she says her music is for everyone, regardless of personal beliefs.

“It’s not about religions. It’s not about politics. It’s not about colour. It’s not about which country [you are from], or where you are,” she says. “We as human beings, I look at as one. We are breathing in and breathing out, and in that sense, we’re all the same.”

Lhamo says there was a point in her life she had decided to give up music to focus on helping others through charitable work. However, once the pandemic hit and she was no longer able to work in the same way, Lhamo decided to make and sell prayer necklaces to raise money for those in need.

“No more making CDs, I just want to spend my life, my entire life with alcoholics and especially the elderly, mentally ill, disabled, and drug addicted. They are suffering so I want my life to be dedicated to them,” she says.

Coming out of the pandemic she says people were telling her it was time to go back to music and spread help that way. She views her upcoming tour as an opportunity to collaborate with local artists and bring joy and healing.

“Then everybody said, ‘Yungchen, 20, 30 years ago, you did acapella. You travelled around the world. Peter Gabriel signed you, you won the world. Now is the time, do your offering.’ And people are looking,” Lhamo says.

Music as an offering

Lhamo says she doesn’t see herself as a musician.

Instead she says her performance is an offering for the audience to take however they want, and it changes based on who else is on stage and in the audience. This kind of collaboration makes each show unique.

“I don’t consider myself a musician or singer. I don’t look at it that way. So for me it’s an offering. […] To go and do this offering, and [have] the people singing with me, the audience is very important, it’s not about myself,” she says.

For the Vancouver show, Lhamo hopes to be joined onstage by a local didgeridoo player and other Vancouver artists to bring her music to life.

While Lhamo doesn’t perform her music in English, she says that her connection with the audience transcends language barriers. Even English-speaking audiences have come up to her and said how her music has affected them.

“They have their own voice, they can use that for themselves,” she says.

She hopes the audiences at her shows feel welcome to participate, especially during the song designed to be sung all together, You Are Beautiful.

For more information on Yungchen Lhamo’s Vancouver show visit: