Occur Goes Global - The Music of Bhutan

The overwhelmingly Buddhist nation of Bhutan is among the top 10 happiest countries in the world, according to a University of Leicester study. And with happiness comes song, in the traditional guise and the cutting edge. Enter the harmonious realm of Bhutanese music.


Rinchen Namgay

Rinchen Namgay is the premier name in rigsar music, a newer genre that melds pop melodies with Indian Hindi influences. His inflections emulate the storytelling reverence of the Dzongkha language, with dreamy flutes and other woodwinds enhancing each note. Namgay is also an outspoken political figure and champions the fight against copyright infringement, a growing problem within Bhutan.


Misty Terrace

“With the right music, you either forget everything or you remember everything,” this pop-country (Western) outfit say on their Facebook page. With inspirations ranging from the quaint Owl City to the furious Iron Maiden (at least a 2015 profile insists), Misty Terrace entice with smooth vocals and toe-tapping works. It’s as though these young gents were from the Appalachians rather than the Thimphu River valley. Their latest album, Nge Thimphu, is expected to become available in November 2015.


Kezang Dorji

Upon first glance, one wouldn’t think a kid from Bhutan would have much in common with Detroit rapper Eminem. But hip-hop impresario Kezang Dorji has his own star-making “Lose Yourself” in “Jup Jusa Eein,” a rock-meets-spoken-word rager. He is the son of a single mother who supported her family through trouble times as a weaver. “I hope as an upcoming artist, I can convey strong messages through the songs and help individuals see a better path to lead in their lives,” he told Kuesenel in October 2015.


Mingzun Lhamo

This songbird has been feted numerous times for her diverse catalog. She excels in Hindi-sounding vocals and singing in numerous tongues: Tibetan, Nepali and Ladakh among them. Her songs frequently appear in Bhutanese films, and when she is not performing her own material, she is known to host karaoke events. She first came on the scene in 2011 as a contestant on the TV show Druk Superstar.


Ugyen Panday

A repeat collaborator of Lhamo’s, Ugyen Panday has the mellow delivery of John Mayer and the affability of Ed SheeranHe claims he’s “not a very expressive person” in an interview with The Raven, but listen to his music and you’ll have to disagree. There is something endearing about his sunniness. One Bhutanese writer credits Panday with leading the Dzongkha revolution. At the very least, his performances will lead fans to a cheerier afternoon.

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