Article taken from the March 3, 1994 issue of "The Wanderer".
BENEDICTINE MONKS FROM SPAIN: THE LATEST MUSIC SENSATION?
NEW YORK (RNS)--Forget the "Fab Four." This spring, America's hottest
music sensation could be a Spanish order of Benedictine monks.
Following their astonishing climb to the top of Spain's pop charts
this winter, the monks of Santo Domingo De Silos are set to release a
repackaged version of their CD in the United States this month with Angel
And just what is the monks' musical forte? Gregorian chant, of
course--the traditional music of the Roman Catholic liturgy, sung in
The 20-monk choir has released four recordings since 1972. But no one
anticipated the huge success of their latest venture, "The Best Works of
Gregorian Chant by the Monks of Santo Domingo De Silos Abbey."
Released in December, 1993, the double CD captured the number one
spot on the Spanish album charts for five weeks in a row and sold over
250,000 copies--earning the monks a platinum record in the classical
Gregorian chant consists of a single melody without accompaniment or
harmonizing parts. The name is a reference to Pope Gregory I (590604), who
is believed to have encouraged development of the chant in its early
Steve Murphy, president of Angel Records, predicted in an interview
here on Feb. 16th that the repackaged U.S. single CD, "Chant," will also
become an enormous success and even outsell the Spanish release.
Defining a target audience has been difficult for Angel because the
monks' appeal seems to defy age demographics. But, since 60% of Spain's CD
sales came from the16-25 age group, American marketing efforts will be
geared primarily to a younger crowd.
"In a world full of natural and human disasters, this album seems to
give people a little peace, a little hope, something to grab onto and help
them through the day," Murphy commented.
He theorized that the monks' chanting taps into young peoples'
spiritual need, a need currently unmet anywhere else in contemporary
"I think that with most people, especially young people, there has
always been an interest in and a need for uplifting music-- religious in
source and ethereal in presentation. Happenstance has provided us with
this record, and the youth are just waiting for it."
But Angel is not counting solely on the purchasing power of the young
to make "Chant" their number one best-seller.
Murphy predicted that the monks' 1,300-year-old melodies will appeal
to a broad audience of people who tend to gravitate to the newest sounds.
Yet Angel is banking on the talent of the artists themselves to
replicate in the U.S. the kind of success their recording achieved in
"The monks are an incredible talent, the best in their genre, which
completely sets their chants apart from other Gregorian chants.
"Everyone feels good about this CD succeeding," Murphy said.
After all, this is not just another bunch of highly paid, self-
centered, self-promoting, spoiled pop stars.
Murphy puts it simply: "The monks are such good people."