French nuns break their silence to release an album of Gregorian chants.
Credit: Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

What’s black and white and soon to be heard all over? The Nuns of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de L’Annonciation, whose sound is set to grace spas and coffeehouses across the land when their debut album is released this month on Decca Records. Unlike fellow Universal Music Group artists Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse, the sisters of this French Benedictine abbey near Avignon, France, have shunned the material world for a life of quiet seclusion, and hone their craft by singing eight times a day. Their haunting Gregorian chants—rarely heard by outsiders—are as mellifluous as a Provençal morning, conjuring up sun-dappled cloisters and cypress-lined allées and reminding us of the transportive power of the human voice.