• SumoMe

Paul Pena

“Good Horses”

Paul Pena was born with congenital glaucoma, and was totally blind by the age of 20. However, this didn’t stop him from becoming extremely adept at the guitar and music in general. While he had a very good career as a blues guitar player, his most interesting story comes in his trip to Tuva, which was outlined in the movie, “Genghis Blues.”

The basic premise of the film (which I saw and really enjoyed) is that he was listening to the radio one day, and the DJ played a song of Tuvan throat singing, a type of singing native to the Tuva region where the singer will use his or her throat to create unusual droning sounds. Intrigued, Pena listened intently to figure out what instrument he was hearing. After a while, he figured out the singer was using his throat, and this realization made something click inside his brain.

He then decided to take a trip halfway across the world to Tuva, in order to learn how to make the noise with his throat. When he arrived, the Tuvan people were happy to teach him, and the end product is shown in the featured video. Pena’s unique voice was described as “an earthquake,” and his natural bass voice made for his own unique Tuvan throat singing sound.

Pena didn’t only take a trip to Tuva, though. He also had some hits such as “Jet Airliner” (he wrote it, not the Steve Miller band–in fact his version is much better in my opinion) and “Gonna Move.” Pena, with a long life of success in music, died in 2005 due to diabetes and pancreatitis.