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Lhasa de Sela

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Montreal, Canada (1985 – 2009)

Lhasa de Sela (1972 - 2010), also known under the moniker Lhasa, was a Canadian singer of Mexican and Jewish descent.

In 1985 at age 13 when her parents separated, Lhasa, her mother and her sisters settled in San Francisco where Lhasa started singing in a Greek cafe. She included Spanish language lessons in her high school studies. After viewing a documentary about Billie Holiday, Lhasa determined that she, too, would make a career in singing. In 1991 she traveled to Montreal to visit her sisters who were students at l’École nationale de cirque, the National Circus School of Canada, and she decided to make Montreal her home. Steeped in a Francophone culture for the first time, she sang for five years in bars, collaborating with rock guitarist Yves Desrosiers. In 1992, Denis Wolff, general manager of the independent Canadian record company, Audiogram, saw Lhasa performing, her head shaved, in front of a tiny nightclub audience. He was struck with “her personality, her charisma and her voice” – he soon signed her to the label. With Desrosiers she developed the material that eventually became her first album.

Born in Big Indian, New York, she grew up in the United States and Mexico, and moved to Montreal, Canada when she was twenty years old. After the success of her 1998 album La Llorona, which mixes everything from traditional Mexican music to klezmer to alternative rock, she moved to France. Her album The Living Road was released in 2003. In 2005 she won the “Americas” category in the Awards for World Music. She released her third and last album, Lhasa in 2009.

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