Metal Band Named UNESCO's 'Artist For Peace' For The First Time

1 December 2022 | 1:25 pm | Mary Varvaris

Previous recipients of the award include Celine Dion, Shirley Bassey, Sarah Brightman, Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller and World Orchestra For Peace.

Metal Band Named UNESCO's 'Artist For Peace' For The First Time

(Pic by Khishigsuren Baasan)

The Hu are the first-ever metal band to be named UNESCO's Artist For Peace. In giving the band the title, Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO, recognises the band's role in promoting and protecting their heritage. In return, the band will pledge "to act as spokespersons for UNESCO's programmes in this field, participating in events and relaying the organisation's messages".

Previous recipients of the honour include Celine Dion, Shirley Bassey, Sarah Brightman, Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller and World Orchestra For Peace. 

The Hu formed in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 2016 and have amassed a massive global following (they played in Australia earlier this year) with their Hunnu Rock music - a brand of rock and heavy metal with styles of traditional Mongolian music, such as the art of Khöömei (throat singing), the tsuur flute and the Morin Khuur (horse-headed fiddle), all of which have been included on UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 

THE HU's UNESCO Artist For Peace title arrives alongside their previous awards: Cultural Envoy of Mongolia in 2019 and the first group and 12th overall recipients of the highest state award in Mongolia: the Order of Genghis Khan, which was granted to the band by the President of Mongolia, Kh. Battulga in 2020. 

"Mongolians have the utmost respect for our history, culture, and the language that was left to us from thousands of years ago from our elders and ancestors," band leader and throat singer Gala said. "The HU’s goal and purpose is first and foremost to perform a unique genre of music that gives strength and power upon every listen. 

"Secondly, it is to show the world Mongolia’s nomadic and environmentally aware livelihood that has been passed down from previous generations and to inspire others to live minimalistic lives and enjoy life to its fullest. 

"UNESCO electing the HU with ‘Artists for Peace’ designation shows their appreciation towards cultural diversity and heritage pieces that are of great value to Mongolians. The partnership between the HU and UNESCO will bring awareness towards every culture that is distinguished by their unique heritage and core values, so we are excited to be part of a movement that can improve and change so many lives."

Tumur khuur and tsuur player Jaya added, "We sincerely appreciate being selected by UNESCO as part of their ‘Artists for Peace’ and understand the importance of the designation.

"From a very young age, we have been practising traditional music techniques and instrumentation such as long song, throat singing, horse head fiddle, tsuur and tovshuur, as we know the significance and impact of sharing one’s culture around the world has to rest of the society. 

"Our music delivers profound ideas that are understood in the subconscious mind while delivering hard rock and ethereal tunes. On the surface level, our lyrics and music seem to talk about basic yet important principles of human beings; on a deeper level, they share the preservation of cultures that are in danger of going extinct and allow us to be representatives for groups who have slightly different world perspectives than the modern world. 

"This is a huge inspiration for us and part of our purposes as artists. Therefore, we will do everything in our power to be the inspiration for the cultures that are underrepresented and work with UNESCO to bring them the attention that they deserve."

The Hu's second album, Rumble Of Thunder, is out now.