Friday, October 14, 2005
Paul Pena, 1950-2005
The recent passing of bluesman Paul Pena earlier this month got a mention in the New York Times, Time magazine, Billboard, and elsewhere. Pena, born in Massachusetts to Cape Verdean immigrant parents, was blind from birth, and attended the Perkins School for the Blind near Boston. He is best known most recently for his explorations of traditional Tuvan throatsinging, as documented in the film Genghis Blues. He taught himself the unusual vocal skill, and became the 1995 "kargyraa" style throatsinging champion in a competition held at the National Theatre of Tuva. Later in life he used a wheelchair. He died from complications related to pancreatitis and diabetes.