MELONG – TIBETAN ROCK BAND མེ་ལོང་རོལ་དབྱངས།
Melong is a Tibetan rock band based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The only Tibetan rock band in the United States, Melong released its debut album titled “Notes in Exile” on July 6, 2009 to coincide with the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The album comprised of all original songs composed by the band members and received rave reviews in the community.
Melong’s music is a combination of different genres influenced by rock, reggae and blues. The band excels at incorporating traditional Tibetan instruments like Dranyen and Piwang into the songs which makes their sound unique and interesting. Last summer, the band performed in Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco and New York as part of an awareness raising campaign called the Tibetan Freedom Tour.
“Notes in Exile” feature haunting songs of freedom and solidarity to a musical accompaniment of expertly blended western and eastern sound. Band members promise to keep the struggle for their people in Tibet alive and to continue to make music to raise awareness of the situation inside Tibet. “Music has always played a vital role in most freedom movements in history,” says Tenzing Jigme, guitarist of Melong, and an activist for the Tibetan Freedom movement. “Singers and songwriters in Tibet are not free to sing freedom or protest songs yet they continue to make music and sing songs of hope. They give us hope. We sing our songs of freedom for them.”
All the band members except for drummer George Dorjee are Tibetan. Lead singer Tenzin Ngawang trained and performed at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala, India. Guitarist Tenzing Jigme studied Music at the University of Colorado in Denver, and played bass in a funk band for five years. Bass guitarist Jampa Choephell has been involved in the Tibetan music scene in Dharamsala for many years. Drummer George Dorjee and part-time keyboards player Tashi Phuntsok round off this quintet. Together, the band’s diverse backgrounds bring a new element to their sound which they hope will serve as an alternative platform for the unheard voices of Tibetans in Tibet.