The Music of Compassion
Musician Nawang Khechog, a former monk, has gone on to record five albums, earn a Grammy-nomination and achieve worldwide fame, while spreading the message of compassion.
As Nawang Khechog busies himself, heating chai in the cramped kitchen of the simple one-bedroom apartment he shares with his wife in Boulder, Colorado, it’s hard to imagine that this slight, unassuming man is a world-renowned musician. That is, until you notice the enormous collection of flutes of all types and sizes leaning against one wall, and a framed Grammy nomination on another wall.
The 49-year-old Tibetan-born composer is taking the time to reflect on the journey that has brought him to this place and time. And, he’s eager to share a preview of an upcoming solo album, “Universal Love,” which features his flute and long-horn, playing along with environmental recordings he made of nature and the chanting of the Dalai Lama and hundreds of high lamas and monks in India.
His musical travels have followed his spiritual path through life. “My life (path) has been from tragic to all kinds of spiritual adventures to musical adventures,” he says, chuckling. “I could have been herding yaks and sheep, you know.”
It’s true. Khechog grew up in a nomadic tribe of Tibetan warriors, but his parents were told to escape their country. “A hermit came by and stayed with my family for a few days, and he predicted that times would be bad.”
His parents had faith in the hermit’s ominous warning, and the family pulled up stakes and began a trek to a new home in India, in time to escape China’s ruthless 1959 massacre of thousands of Tibetans. “My family escaped as a whole family,” Khechog says. By the time his family settled in a refugee camp in northeast Assam, two of Khechog’s younger sisters and his grandmother had died. “I was the only one who was not sick,” he says. He was six years old at the time.