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Top record company seeks singing nuns

Universal Music, home to such international stars as Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse, is turning to convents to find its next female singing sensations.

This week the Decca label embarks upon a global, multi-media search for religious sisters, to record an album of plainsong and chant in preparation for the Pope's historic visit to the UK in September. Adverts, which start this weekend and are to appear across national and international publications as well as on television, encourage nuns to send examples of their singing into Head of A&R for Decca, Tom Lewis.

When Decca Records moved offices recently, TV talent judge and A&R guru Tom Lewis was forced to sort through his records, some untouched for years. He chanced upon a disc of such profound beauty - singing nuns - that one hearing spurred him into action to find their vocal sisters of the digital age.

The concept is to bring sacred music of calm and meditation to the outside world, and to those who would not normally hear it. Music of such tranquil beauty and stillness has already proved to be incredibly popular. The Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz recently saw huge success with their platinum-selling album of plainchant. They could never have imagined that their everyday prayer would be experienced and savoured in so many British homes - a radical change of musical habit for thousands.

Tom Lewis said: "When you hear the sound of Nuns chanting, it's like an immediate escape from the challenges, stresses, pace and noise of modern living. You're given a glimpse of another world - a world of peace and calm. This is a sound of something ancient, unchanging and timeless."

Decca General Manager, Mark Wilkinson, added: "This is a genuine appeal to find what you could call a 'sister act' for the 21st century."