July 26th, 2010
01:25 PM ET
Chart-topper Lady Gaga has some surprising new label-mates: a group of cloistered nuns.
After a worldwide search of 70 convents to find the best female singers of Gregorian chant, Decca Records, Universal's classical music label, signed a group of French Benedictine nuns on Saturday.
The new chart hopefuls from the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation–located near Avignon, France–are ordinarily cut off from the outside world.
The Benedictine sisters have taken a vow of isolation and intend to stay in their convent for the rest of their lives.
As part of an ancient order that dates to the sixth century, the nuns can only communicate to visitors, even family, through a grill, according to Decca.
The company's managing director, Dickon Stainer, was not able to enter the abbey for the nuns to sign their new record deal.
"I passed the contract through the grill, they signed it and passed it back," he said in a statement. "Although the nuns do not leave the convent, the whole world will now hear the true beauty of their singing."
The nuns will continue to avoid intrusion by photographing their own album cover and filming their own TV commercial.
"We never sought this, it came looking for us," said the Reverend Mother Abbess in a statement. "At first we were worried it would affect our cloistered life, so we asked St. Joseph in prayer. Our prayers were answered, and we thought that this album would be a good thing if it touches people's lives and helps them find peace."
The album, to be titled, "Voices–Chant from Avignon'" will be released worldwide in November. It will feature the most ancient form of Gregorian chant, which the nuns sing eight times a day.
"When you hear the sound of nuns chanting, it's like an immediate escape from the challenges, stresses, noise and pace of modern living," Decca executive Tom Lewis said in a statement. "You're given a glimpse of a secret world of peace and calm."
The group of traditionally self-sufficient nuns includes a plumber, an engineer, an electrician, a silk-weaver and a dental assistant.
CNN's Karen Smith contributed to this report.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.