July 26th, 2010
01:25 PM ET

Lady Gaga's new label mates: Cloistered nuns from an ancient order

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.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Art • Catholic Church • France • Music

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Eric G

    Maybe they can be the opening act for Rob Zombie.

    July 27, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Eric G



      July 29, 2010 at 7:10 am |
  2. CatholicMom

    Chants by John Michael Talbot are wonderful! Now I will add Chants by Nuns to my collection. Positively awesome and soothing.....thanks CNN for letting us know..............

    July 26, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • peace2all


      Chanting and music is a subjective experience that 'may' take one inside .......for a conncection to relaxation, meditation, and....

      possibly a connection to God....

      See..... We are not always on the opposite side of the fence,,,! Enjoy your musice....

      Sincerely Peace to you CM....!!!!!!

      July 29, 2010 at 7:14 am |
  3. dalis

    Why is this news? I'm sure many diverse people share record labels. There's no religious or moral litmus test for being on a label. If there was, many Christian recording artists would disqualify themselves for their own share of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll.

    July 26, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  4. Rafael

    All news organization skew headline for viewership but this time you've outdone yourself CNN. This is the kind of thing that caused me to block FOX news. Keep it up, there are a ton of news agencies to choose from.

    July 26, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  5. joe

    Movie Stars and other celebrities new neighbors: homeless people on the rise in California. That make as much sense as the article above

    July 26, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  6. Suz

    To my understanding, there are still extern nuns - the ones who venture out side the monastery for business reasons (shopping, etc) Maybe the extern nuns are no more and the practice was discontinued.

    July 26, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  7. Frank

    CNN – Cable Nothing Newsworthy strikes out again. They think they've got everyone wide-eyed with this kind of street journalism. And the reporting was bottom of the barrel. Gregorian Chant is NOT the "most ancient" form of music. However, since they are formidable Lady GAGA fans – they're excused.

    July 26, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  8. rachbell

    Why doesn't the article state that the profits will go towards care of the monastary?? It's only in the video report. Awful reporting on the part of CNN.

    July 26, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  9. rachbell

    This article is really off. Decca is a huge label and has lots of artists signed up. What I want to know, is where are the profits going to go? iPhones for the nuns? Mac notebooks? Blackberries? Hopefuly charities. I'm sure they will sound heavenly and be delightful, as was the Singing Nun of the 60s. Though I hope they keep track of their finances because the Singing Nun of the 60s ended up leaving the covent, owing back US taxes and ended up committing suicide. Fame...curse or blessing.

    July 26, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  10. Gregory Evans

    There is no vow of isolation. Writer needs to do their homework. The vows are: stability, ‘conversatio’ and obedience. Stability is a commitment of lifelong fidelity to God and our Congregation. ‘Conversatio’ is a commitment to embrace all of monastic life as a path to holiness and conversion. This includes poverty or simplicity of life and chastity. Obedience is a vow of listening.

    July 26, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  11. Squeezebox

    The headline was definitely misleading. I think the nuns will be good, though. They'll probably wire the chapel. Setting up a sound studio in the chapel should be no big deal for the electrician, under the remote guidance of the label.

    July 26, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  12. Clay

    "Cloistered nuns eat food, breathe air and sleep from time to time, just like Lady Gaga."

    July 26, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  13. Mark

    Lady Gaga and Benedictine Nuns have nothing in common. She puts her self out there to shock people and make money with a average voice. Nuns give their life to pray for all of us, they are modest obedient and live a life of quite reflection. I hope folks who hear gregorian chant find the beauty in it. But as it is, most people will continue to prefer the junk food diet of lady gaga.

    July 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
    • rachbell

      Unforunately, you are probably right. Gregorian chang is mesmering, much like listening to chants of India. Definitely a deep experience and very soothing.

      July 26, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  14. Danielle

    A long time ago I bought "Chant" by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo De SIlos, it's terrific. Looking forward to hearing the ladies sing.

    July 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
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