Monday, March 24, 2008 12:26 PM CBC News
A group of Austrian monks have signed a major recording contract after submitting a YouTube clip of their Gregorian chanting.
Universal Music put out a call in religious publications for "monks, men of the cloth and sacred singers" in February.
Recording executives were inundated with hundreds of demos but said the monks from the Heiligenkreuz monastery stood head and shoulders above the competition.
Tom Lewis said he was "blown away" by the quality of the monks' singing.
"It was beautiful, beautiful music, and they're using the very latest in terms of communication devices available to them to get their music heard," Lewis told BBC News.
"They're lovely people, they're very passionate about their music and they're very excited about this opportunity."
Universal is hoping to re-create the success of the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo De Silos in northern Spain, who reinvigorated interest in Gregorian chanting through a CD that sold in excess of five million worldwide in the early 1990s.
The Gregorian chant is a melodic ritual song that has its roots dating back to the sixth century.
There are 80 monks at Heiligenkreuz, a Cistercian monastery located in the Vienna woods that dates back to 1133.
An album, set for global release later this year, will be recorded next month.
The monastery's Rev. Karl Wallner said the album would include about a dozen singers.
"It's a fun experience because I didn't think they would choose us — it was just for fun that we [contacted] them. It's a good thing because Gregorian chant is part of spirituality and our life."
Wallner also said he didn't think his monks were on the level of music superstars.
"We're not Robbie Williams or Michael Jackson, we're just a group of monks who sing every day."