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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Back now with Day to Day. In Greece today, a ceremony to light the Olympic torch was briefly interrupted when a Tibetan woman covered in fake blood blocked the path of the torch bearer. It's the latest attempt to draw attention to human rights in China. It hosts the Olympics in Beijing this summer.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Tibet has seen violent protests over the last several weeks even though it's a country known for tranquility. Producer Jack Chance was there earlier this year and got together with some traditional musicians.

(Soundbite of Tibetan music)

JACK CHANCE: I met Sonam(ph) on the road in Tibet.

(Soundbite of song "Good Karma That We Meet Again")

Mr. SONAM: (Singing in Tibetan)

CHANCE: He was dressed in dusty rags. His face bore deep wrinkles from the high altitude sun. I asked this Tibetan troubadour to play me a few songs. This one's called "Good Karma That We Meet Again." It was the Tibetan New Year, Losar, when Tibetans make the pilgrimage to their capital. They meet friends and family and offer their prayers at the Jokhang temple in Lhasa. Some of them prostrate for thousands of miles to get here.

(Soundbite of people talking, bells, and gongs)

CHANCE: I came to Lhasa looking for street musicians. Believe it or not, Tibet's got a lot of them.

(Soundbite of Tibetan music)

CHANCE: There's this bluesy tone that I love in many of these songs.

(Soundbite of Tibetan music)

CHANCE: The most common instrument in Tibetan folk music is the Danyen. It looks like a long thin banjo. The songs are often about the beauty of the land, a funny story that happened on the road or sometimes subtle jokes about the Chinese army. We won't play those, so I don't land anyone in jail.

(Soundbite of people talking)

CHANCE: As I walk around Barkhor Square in Lhasa's Tibetan quarter, it's easy to see the effects of the Chinese occupation, the not so hidden cameras, the cops with eager billy clubs, the monk winking as he flashes a locket with the Dalai Lama's photograph inside. Although Tibetans are allowed to visit the sacred Jokhang temple, they are not allowed to congregate in groups outside this holy site.

Still, these colorful yak herders and barley farmers are smiling.

(Soundbite of children chanting)

CHANCE: A Buddhist nun invites me in for some yak butter tea. She's very friendly, even to some rather loud tourists from Beijing. She sings as she prints pages of prayers. She asks me to take a letter to her sister, a refugee in Nepal. Outside, families gather in front of the temple, sharing tea and biscuits, smiling broadly, and when no one's around, quietly singing these old Tibetan songs.

(Soundbite of Tibetan music)

BRAND: Jack Chance's story comes to us from radio station KGLT in Bozeman, Montana and from the new NPR series Hearing Voices.

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