BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Music
BBC Radio 3

Radio 3

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!



Full track details

The recent career of Canadian singer/songwriter Lhasa de Sela brings new meaning to the expression 'runaway success'. After sales of her first album "La Llorona" (1998) went beyond cult status to something approaching ballistic, she took fright at the prospect of international stardom. Feeling overwhelmed by the extensive tours of Europe and North America she ran away to France to join her three sisters, who were travelling with a circus.

What might have seemed like artistic suicide gave her the space to recharge her muse, which is reflected in her most recent album "The Living Road" (2003), the bulk of which she wrote after settling in Marseilles for two-and-a-half years. "The Living Road" expands on the mostly Mexican influences of her debut, and is sung in equally convincing French, Spanish and English. Laden with haunting imagery, and spaciously arranged in acoustic settings with discrete touches of electronica, the music lurches through an exotic and beguiling array of influences. The blues, French chanson, Mexican ranchera, gypsy flavours and the off-kilter percussive experimentalism of Tom Waits all play their part, among many others. And Lhasa herself drew all the spooky cover illustrations, which lend her work a mysterious Lewis Carroll ambience.

Lhasa credits the creative hot-housing and diverse environments she experienced during her nomadic childhood as the source of much inspiration. Her Mexican father and American mother were hippie musicians who took their four daughters on the road with them, driving back and forth between both Canada and Mexico throughout her childhood. Lhasa made her first public appearance singing in a San Francisco cafe at only 13, but her professional career really began after she moved to Montreal in 1991; for eight years she performed as a duo with rock guitarist Yves Desrosiers, who is still one of her collaborators.

Lhasa has the kind of onstage charisma which most artists would kill for; theatrically expressive and totally wrapped up in her performance, but thoroughly engaging her audiences. She sings in a sensual, husky voice as if she is telling you her life story and that, more or less, is pretty much what she¹s doing. They are not just tunes, but intense chapters from an intriguing biography.

Jon Lusk (courtesy of fRoots)
The Living Road album review
Lhasa official website
Your Comments
Costin – Romania
This is a kind of music that only some people(very fortunate ones...)can understand and most of all feel...I felt exactly like listening to the great John McLaughlin or the majestic Al Di Meola.....Need I say any more...."La Llorona" goes absolutely perfect after I listen to Pasion,Grace & Fire...I love it...sweet musicfor love making..makes me think of all things beautiful...I wonder if She likes Paco De Lucia???....

Greg Cumberland, BC
I don't know what to say. I came across the Living Road just over a year ago and I'm still in love with it. I've always wondered who could be singing this beautiful music; where she's from, what's her story, what she looks like. I'm in love with this spirit. It rips my heart out and floats it to heaven.

René De Graef. Antwerp - Belgium
Lhasa performed at the "Sfynx" world-music festival near Antwerp, (2004)then she came to sing in an old, lovely theatre in the town, and in the next summer she came again to perform in an open-air aula in a park near Antwerp. Three times I sat there, mesmerized by her heart-rending voice, surprised to see how she had the whole audience in her power, even in the open-air performances. This may (2006) I became paralysed from the neck down, and after a month in the clinic, I have revalidation that still goes on. Practically every night I listen to "La Llorona" and "The Living Road". Most songs I now know by heart. They are very sootheing, consolatory, and inspiring. May God bless Llasa, for making her received talents bring forth such priceless treasures.

Natolie - Vancouver, BC, Canada
Just discovered Lhasa and Cesaria Evora - two marvellous voices, a mixture caramel and smoky velvet. Great talent.


Catherine, Cheltenham
Someone gave me an unmarked tape of La Larona 8 years ago in LA, since then I have treasured it and marked the tape 'Magic Woman'. Now I am running out of places to play cassettes and today I started to search for my 'Magic Woman'. I have found her. It is Lhasa. And what timing, a new album just out. Had I looked for her while she was in the circus, I would have been disappointed. Her voice to me is still magic. I do not speak Spanish, but she sings with such feeling I know I understand the emotions. I love this artist!

Frank california
Intoxicating her music is better than red wine and I really love red wine.

Pablo Mexico
Last week i had the big big luck to se her on stage, i never heard anything of her before and really she amaze my ears, brain (i am a musician so i usually think every time i hear something new) and mostly and directly my heart. She just standing in front of the stage FILL one of the biggest scenarios in Mexico city. good luck wherever you are and thanks

Luisa Díaz Meseguer,México
A friend burned me a mix o lhasa´s 2 albums and it was the greatest gift her music is both heart breaking and heart lifting maybe because only from the deepest honesty you can be healed from your pain. Thank you Lhasa for your gorgeous-giving soul that not only makes you a full artist but helps me to get in touch with my own personal angels and demons.

Marius, South Africa
Discovered Lhasa 2 weeks ago, "The Living Road" at a small shop in Johannesburg that specialise in world music (thanks, Lee!). I'm completely enthralled by her voice, her lyrics. I've now been down the living road a hundred times a day and still keep walking, and's my endless journey!

Lhasa WOW!! Amazing Voice and Beautiful. Hope to see you in concert sometime.. lo mejor para tu carrera, un beso ciao ciao..

Manuel Alão from PORTO PORTUGAL
I want to know Lhasa in person its just beautiful, sad, sensual, nostalgic, Orgasmic mixed sensation listening to her

Olga Monteith from Newark Notts

This is one of the best albums I have listened to for a long time. Brilliant voice.

Peter, Bulgaria
I hope some day that great voice will come to Bulgaria...I think that everyone must discover and enjoy that great voice... No, it is not a is VOICE

for me lhasa means beauty, means love, means life! i had the luck to see her in concert!she is metamorphic! her music transposes you and makes your deepest emotions and feelings vibrating! you feel the kiss of life! the words trying to define her are not enough, it´s not about talking about her, is feeling her! so just listen to it, and let her embrace and soothe you!
Paul, Nova Scotia
After seeing a TV5 concert, I was enthralled and infatuated. My 24 year old daughter and I are going to Boston for her Oct. 13 concert and I have not looked forward to anything as much in recent memory.

Roxana Parje
A young painter woman in an old night club, waiting for her turn to dance. She needs money for her colours, and help seems to come from nowhere. She goes to her small flat in the morning, when the sun begins to shine, with her thoughts and dreams. The street is empty, and few light reveal a sad smile. What is life?

alcina cruz portugal
the best voice I’ve ever heard. It always reminds me a dark smoky night club, tequila and a lots of sensuality. Thanks for letting me flying

Stefano, Roma (Italy)
Sexy! Soulful, she makes me think about a starry night, in some mexican canyon, under big saguaros, around a fire, with a bottle of tequila in your right hand, a cigar in the left one and a wonderful woman in your eyes... This is the power of music!

cfresnedo, Spain
Last night I saw Lhasa in BCN and I´m still floating in a pleasant cloud made of tenderness, love, pain, sacrifice and life-just life. What a lovable lady and her great band! Don't miss them if you can, please.

Dylan Murphy, Istanbul
I had the chance to see Lhasa live in Istanbul Jazz Festival tonight. It was totally magical. She touches your soul in a place that nothing had touched before. And also it is great to see such a great artist being so humble and audience-friendly. The stories she tells during the concert blows you away, they help you to get into the songs easily. She once said in an interview that a song should be like a waterproof boat, it should carry you for a hundred times and a hundred times more and each time you sing it, you should still be able to feel the essence of the song. Enough said!

Kiki - Toronto
My 4-year old daughter and I watched Lhasa de Sela and her band perform at the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival. Lhasa's confident and powerful, yet honest and vulnerable voice - her instrument - eclipsed both of us, despite the differences we have in age as well as linguistic capabilities. Lhasa and her band afforded us 1 1/2 hours of an 'experience' and not just a show. My daughter remarked at the end, "We should invite Lhasa to our house to remind her of all the songs she didn't sing - we can play them for her".

Mark Robertson, Toronto, Canada
I finally got to see Lhasa last night at the Toronto Jazz Festival. It was a magical moment: powerful, emotionally searing, sublime. In addition to a great musician, she is also a wonderful poet, a true artist.

Ricardito in Toornto
Saw her last night at the Downtown Toronto Jazz Festival after admiring her recordings for a couple of years... a transfixing performer and enduring artist with undoubtedly, much more to say about living in the world, and the human condition.

Cristina - Romania
I've heard her first album at one friend of mine and I don 't know how to find out more about her, about her music. She is just incredible - i'm just in love with her music. I want so much that she and her music to be much more mediatizate so that way more people to can enjoy the sound of her music. I wish her a lot of luck to get where she deserves.

Robert - UK
great voice - great band - and she looks fantastic in a LBD

maya - romania
Lhasa did a lot in my life with her music. she brought me the pair soul from the universe. I recognised him all because of her music. THANK YOU LHASA! YOU ARE AN ANGEL!

Jonny, Romania
Lhasa is great. She was in Bucharest a few weeks ago. Unfortunately I didn't make it to her concert, but i had the chance to listen to her songs and i fell in love instantly. She is outstanding!

Nathan, Edinburgh, Scotland
I saw her last night at Usher Hall. It was a fairly intimate crowd, maybe 500 people? We were all seated in the orchestra section. I was sitting second row, right in front of her. Wow, one of the best shows I've ever seen. She is so sharing, expressive, wise, and genuine, I was crying every other song.

Andy - Sunderland
Lhasa de Sela's music is so powerful it hurts. Her voice is so emotionally charged-Im frankly nervous about seeing her perform at the Sage in Gateshead, (I will be there though! and i'll be the one (of many) shouting for encores)

Augustin from ROMANIA
Lasha performed in Bucharest in front of about 4.500 people... It was an overwhelming electrofeeling. I`m happy, pround and greatfull that I was there. Thank you Lasha and your band! I love you!

Camilla - Cambridge
Lhasa's voice and music took my breath away. She is one of the unique artist who can make you feel so wonderful with her deep tender voice and her magic music...

Oscar Cristoforis NYC
Once in a while you hear a type of music that influence you, but that does not happen that often. Lhasa Sela is an artist that had that power of influence over people. her voice is a touch from above. I heard her CD La Llorona, and for me is something that you got to have.

Kaan Bayar Kocaeli Turkey
Well actually a friend of mine found Lhasa and told me to listen. Wonderful music and specially atmospheric. Totally a mood lifter. Got a splendid voice that one. Hope to listen her live in Istanbul sometime.

Lhasa's music crosses imagined obstacles of language, gender, nationality, generation and emotional level. Her intensity and uncanny ability to be innovative with ancient and modern sounds reminds us all that we while we live toward the future, we are deeply connected the past. Her sounds ands notes are mana from heaven - with all its angusih and celebration - but if you understand Spanish and French you will reach a level of emotional nirvana you could never have before imagined. Her music is old but it never "gets old". Thank you lhasa. Thank you....

Vincent , blois France
I first heard Lhasa de Sela in West Sand Lake during an exchange; it was her father Alejandro who spoken to me about Lhasa! I was love at first hearing. Next week I will see her in concert and I know that it will be a great moment. I hope I will discuss with her... Thanks a lot Lhasa

Romina - Argentina

beyza urfalilar TURKEY
two weeks ago my sister gave Lasha's living road to me as a present. It took me to another world. It was a realistic sound. thank you Lhasa...

Macachuy Temple City, Calilfornia
I love her music she is a poet I wonder when she is coming to Los Angeles, Ca.?

Michael, Montreal
Lhasa is Voice. A loving Guide to that which is Real; simple and pure. Soul. Honesty. Exposure. Fire of the Human Spirit. Humanity. I am grateful.

F Gonzalez, Minnesota (USA)
I first heard Lhasa's haunting voice 2 days ago, on a local public radio station. In Spanish there is a word that describes my reaction: embrujado, which translates as captivated, bewitched, entranced, and craving for more...Many thanks to Lhasa for sharing her soul with us!

Enrico New York
During times of so much BS here in the States it was so refreshing to hear such beautifully genuine music. Thank god for music and for sending it via an angel like lhasa.

Pedro Leal - Portugal
Simply beautifull!! There is no need to say more...

filippa spain
an angel............

Devrim Basar TURGUT Istanbul/TURKEY
Lhasa is the best voice in the world. when I first heard her I fell in love with her voice.She is one of the best performers in the world.I love you Lhasa. I hope we can hear you live in Istanbul soon

Adolfo Baez (Mexico)
The Living Road is more atmospheric and deeper than La Llorona, It also has a better production and Lhasa's voice sounds "not so forced", she already found her singing style with this CD, The Best CD I've bought IN Many time..

Veronica Reyes Chicago IL.
She is absolutely "GREAT".

Ellen, Scotland
I was given this CD by a friend and have become completely and utterly captivated by her beautiful, soulful voice. Words fail me.

Olivier LE BON - Brussels, Belgium
Lhasa has a beautiful, deep and moving voice, very emotional, and sings masterfully designed pieces of music

Slava, Belarus
It is like an optimistic sadness, clean and deep. Wondering to hear more after these beautiful first two albums.

Bafrepi Belgium
isn’t very good is was in her concert in Gent

Céline Saguenay
Lhasa de Sela Ivote for her because she makes me a wonderful feeling, a trip. It's a complete artist. Thank you and good luck!

louise st-hilaire
i love that artist

rené larocque
very very good

eva from brugas belgium
I'm really fond of lhasa's music. It's earthmoving. I was fortunate to see and especially hear here on a concert in brugge. She has a unbelievable way to come deep in you and move you. Love to hear and see more of you!

Ariele Saint-Hippolyte Québec
I vote for Lhasa because her music crosses borders and individuality it has a citizen of the world aura

Éric Dubois, Chicoutimi, Québec (CANADA)
Lhasa give us a voice full of nostalgia and whispers. Be ready for a nowhere trip into emotions and beauties at every listening.

brett los angeles
Seeing her sing I realized the music would rather stay inside her, it seems to be much happier there. Our great gift is that she gives the music to us!

I have heard that Lhasa will sing in Paris this year in the end of March. Do you know if she will comme in Bordeaux this year ? Thanks a lot Marie-Jo

Alejandro Sela, West Sand Lake, NY
I love her and I'm grateful for her sage brave gifts of music and poetry. Gracias m'hija.

Gabriela, Chicago
A friend of mine looked all over town for La Llorona, and I didn't understand his obsession until I listened to it. Then I was obsessed with getting my hands on The Living Road. These 2 are now my ticket to ecstasy whenever I'm feeling down...

Mai -- Minnesota, US
I love music that expresses emotion unapologetically. She ensnares her listener with an authentic vulnerability, and in that sensitive voice there is great strength.

Doug - London
Well done Lhasa for winning the Americas award. I was fortunate to catch Lhasa at the Jazz Cafe in April last year and was blown away. It was a very intense experience, at times it felt like I was intruding on something very personal. Get to see Lhasa if you can and experience the magic she brings to life in her songs for yourself.

Milos Massamour, New York City
Lhasa has an ageless voice that calls like a siren in a tempestuous sea, holding you hostage for your rawest emotions as ransom. Her songs come from a home I never want to leave, and yet have no geographical center. Billie Holiday, Chavela Vargas, Amelia Rodrigues, Lhasa.

jon Nice France
i think that Lhasa is the greatest music i have ever heard, and that is definetly saying a lot. i never stop listening to her music, and hope to one day see her in concert. Unfortunately the first time i heard of her i was in a music store and say her album at a listening station. after the first 20 seconds i knew it was great and bought it without hearing any more (la llorona). the unfortunate part about that was i was leaving france the next day, which was the first day of her tour, in Paris where I was!

Catherine - Los Angeles
This is one of those artists who change music - she was called the world music discovery of the year when her first album came out and she has only gotten better...

Asad Khan Arkansas USA
simply sublime. stirs my soul and bring tears to my eyes.

Nellie King Solomon, San francisco CA
Lhasa Rules!

John, London
I too heard her music by accident and it stopped me in my tracks, I thought 'this is the real thing'. It is beautiful, true music making. Live she lives up to everything one hopes for after hearing her music

Micheline, Ottawa
First time I heard Lhasa, I immediately loved her music. I went to see her in concert and she is amazing. Her music is unique and transport me in a different world, a deep world of emotions...

Cecilia Rouvrais Paris

I vote for Lhasa because she makes me travel to beautiful places ..
Danilele -- London
I bumped on her CD by chance... It was love at first hearing. Lasha is one of the most genuine artists out there. Live accompanied by great musicians... she took my heart away with her.

Lydia montreal
She is this kind of singers that we never forget once we have heard her music.

Coulter, Florida
When I first heard Lhasa de Sela, her compelling, emotive voice grabbed my soul. Tears came to my eyes and I felt as if I had no clothes on. Her music crosses so many boundaries, it may be a taste of the true 'world music' of all humanity.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy