Veteran singer Tom Waits has described his participation in a concert featuring the Dalai Lama as a "spiritual insurance policy".

The gravel-voiced crooner performed with the Kronos Quartet featuring Greg Cohen at a New York concert celebrating sacred traditions in music back in September 2003.

The gig, which also featured the Gyoto Tantric Choir and sitarist Anoushka Shankar as well as the Dalai Lama, was held to raise funds for the Tibetan Health Initiative, which provides health insurance for impoverished monks in the country.

On the occasion of the launch of a CD for the gig, Waits has admitted he had more personal motives in taking part.

"I'm no fool. It's a spiritual insurance policy," the 57-year-old said.

"Hell, at my age, the next group I put together, everyone may be playing a harp. All kidding aside, I owed His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] a favour. He did all my papers in school."

The Dalai Lama participated in the 2003 concert to "make every effort to promote human affection".

The gig's organiser, Healing the Divide, was founded by Richard Gere in 2001. Despite the latter's recent failure to unite east and west through his public clinches with Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, the film star believes sales of the concert's CD will make a real difference.

"The funds raised not only allow us to positively change the lives of the Tibetan people, but will also allow us to promote invaluable Tibetan Buddhist concepts of peace and compassion," he said.

21/05/2007 14:34:19