Ani Choying Drolma is a Tibetan Buddhist nun from Nepal who sings ancient Buddhist mantras, chants and traditional songs. She is the founder of the Nuns’ Welfare Foundation of Nepal and sings internationally to fund her many humanitarian projects through the Foundation.
Ani Choying Drolma was born on 17 May 1970 in Kathmandu, Nepal, to Tibetan parents living in exile. She entered the Nagi Gompa, a Buddhist nunnery on the northern slopes of the Kathmandu Valley, at the very early age of 13 to escape a physically abusive father. In the monastery, her education and spiritual training was supervised by the renowned meditation master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche who was the head Lama of Nagi Gompa. It was Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s wife who taught Ani Choying Drolma how to sing the sacred chants. Her talent quickly became apparent and in the position of Chant Master for the Nunnery, she led all religious ceremonies and chants.
In 1994, US guitarist Steve Tibbetts ‘discovered’ Ani Choying Drolma on a visit to the Nunnery. He was stunned when he first heard her singing and eventually managed to record it on a cassette recorder in a small shrine room. The result was a collaborative album Cho, which was released in 1997 by Rykodisc to critical acclaim. In 1998, Tibbetts brought Ani Choying and two other nuns to the USA where they performed in 14 cities. Their first concert was at the Iron Horse Saloon in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Between 1997 and 2011, Ani Choying Drolma released 12 CDs and contributed to music compilations including Buddha Bar and the sound track to the movie Milarepa. Following the success of her first concert tour in the USA, Ani Choying began performing in concerts and at festivals all over Europe, North America, the UK, Singapore, China, Taiwan, and many other countries of Asia. She played a major part in popularising Tibetan Buddhist chants with western audiences.
With the funds coming to her from the chanting, Ani Choying Drolma was able to start supporting the education of girls and young women in Nepal from poor areas. In 1998 she established the Nuns’ Welfare Foundation of Nepal. By providing both secular and Buddhist education to nuns, they in turn would be able to serve the wider community. The flagship project of the NWF is the Arya Tara School which opened in 2000.
The humanitarian projects supported by Ani Choying Drolma expanded rapidly to include the teaching of the Tibetan art of Thangka painting, the Shree Tara Band (the first female instrumental band of Nepal), the building of a kidney hospital for Nepal, an early childhood development centre and a street dog care camp. She became an advocate for equality for women and has addressed a number of international conferences. Much honoured and awarded in Nepal, she is a 2012 N-Peace Ambassador.
Ani Choying Drolma tours internationally for much of the year to fund her many projects. In November 2012, Ani Choying Drolma will tour Australia for the first time.
Read more about Ani Choying Drolma in her autobiography Singing For Freedom which will be reprinted especially for this tour. Or visit her website.
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