Paul Pena: Genghis Blues

March 26, 2007

I would encourage you to check out Paul Pena, whose name rightfully should be synonymous with Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye and many other great American musicians.

Pena was a great songwriter and guitarist who possessed a voice and spirit touched by God’s hand. (God forgot to touch Paul’s eyes, but that’s another story.)

I learned of him recently when I watched Genghis Blues, a documentary based on Paul Pena’s second life as a great friend of the people of Tuva and a naturally gifted master of the Tuvan throat music style of singing, in which a single human being can sing up to 10 octaves at one time.

Paul learned of Tuvan throat singing by listening to shortwave radio broadcasts from Moscow. He had to learn the Russian language in order to interpret the Tuvan language.

Genghis Blues was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary film. The film is based on Pena’s invitation to Tuva, a (nearly) lost land and culture between Russia, Mongolia and China, to participate in (and ultimately win) the nation’s singing tournament.

I am sad to write this entry in the past tense. I only learned today that Paul died a couple years ago after a long battle with diabetes.

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