A Taupo couple have won a Grammy the hard way - by lugging recording gear through India and Nepal for three months.

Jon Mark and Thelma Burchell found their award-winning talent at Sherab Ling monastery, in the foothills of the Himalayas, 16 hours from New Delhi by four-wheel-drive.

It was there, two years ago, that they recorded the Tibetan monk chants they would later craft into an album called, appropriately, Sacred Tibetan Chant: The Monks Of Sherab Ling Monastery.


The couple were quietly pleased in December when they heard it had been nominated for a Grammy as best traditional world music album.

They were more pleased at 3am yesterday when an email popped up on Mark's computer saying their album had won.

Mark said an awful lot of planning and hard work went into the Indian jaunt, including "simply getting the gear in there, setting up, and checking the acoustics of the temples".

The trip held its dangers, too. "We went to one Buddhist shrine in the middle of nowhere and only three days later a Japanese tourist was stabbed to death and robbed there."

For English-born Mark, the Grammy capped a music career stretching back to the 1960s, when he played guitar or drums with the likes of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull and John Mayall.

He came to New Zealand 20 years ago "and really liked it, and didn't want to tour any more".

He has since spent much time on his music label White Cloud Records, producing folk, jazz and Maori music.

When asked why he and Burchell chose to record in India, Mark said: "That's just what we do. We look for projects and then we do them."

Mark and Burchell spurned their invitation to the Grammy event in Los Angeles because it was expensive and they had doubts about winning.

Instead, the music world was treated to the broad grin and thumbs-up of Sherab Ling monk Tenam Lama as he accepted the award.

The Grammy win led the front page of the Times of Tibet, but passed without comment in New Zealand.

Mark did make headlines yesterday - but only because of his dispute with New Zealand Listener journalist Steve Braunias, who published details of one of his royalty cheques in the magazine.