Mongolian rock band named Unesco's Artist for Peace

The group has developed a unique style called 'hunnu rock', which draws on elements of traditional Mongolian music

Members of Mongolian folk metal band The Hu, the first rock group to receive the Artist for Peace accolade from Unesco. PA
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Mongolia’s The Hu have become the first-ever rock band to receive Unesco’s Artist for Peace accolade.

The award was presented during a ceremony at the organisation’s Paris headquarters on Friday. Audrey Azoulay, director-general of Unesco, had already met the eight members of the band during an official visit to Mongolia in August.

Founded in 2016 in Ulaanbaatar, The Hu have created a unique musical genre they refer to as "hunnu rock". It combines rock and heavy metal with elements of traditional Mongolian music, including the art of khoomei, or throat singing; the tsuur flute; and the morin khuur, a type of fiddle, all of which have been inscribed on Unesco’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Artist for Peace award recognises The Hu’s role in promoting and transmitting this heritage.

In their music, the group addresses themes of gender equality, respect for difference and the importance of protecting nature. They also promote linguistic diversity by using endangered regional dialects.

The Hu were awarded the Cultural Envoy of Mongolia certificate in 2019, and the Order of Genghis Khan, the highest state award, in 2020, in recognition of their contribution to Mongolian culture.

“Mongolians have utmost respect for our history, culture and language that were left to us from thousands years ago through our elders and ancestors,” says band frontman Gala. “The Hu band’s goal and purpose is to first perform a unique genre of music that gives strength and power every time you hear [it].

“Unesco bestowing on The Hu the Artist for Peace designation shows their appreciation towards cultural diversity and heritage pieces that are of great value to Mongolians. The partnership between The Hu band 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.”

The band are scheduled to perform a series of shows in the UK, starting in Manchester on Monday and culminating at London’s Roundhouse on December 9, with performances in Leeds, Nottingham, Cardiff, Birmingham, Dublin, Belfast and Glasgow in between.

Launched in in 1995, the Unesco Artist for Peace programme enlists international celebrity advocates for the UN agency. Musicians that have been involved in the programme include Shirley Bassey, Sarah Brightman, Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller and Celine Dion.

Updated: November 26, 2022, 1:18 PM