Alash takes its name from the Alash River, which runs through the musicians' native region of Tuva. The ensemble members are graduates of the Kyzyl Arts College and students of Kongar-ool Ondar, the renowned master throat singer and member of the Tuvan parliament who is featured in the movie Genghis Blues.
In 1999, five first year students at the Kyzyl Arts College formed the ensemble Changy-Xaya, which would later evolve into Alash. The original members were Bady-Dorzhu Ondar, Ayan-ool Sam, Mai-ool Sedip, Ayan Shirizhik, and Sergei Sotpa.
The musicians have all been trained in traditional Tuvan music since childhood, but they also know and love western music. They sometimes add non-traditional instruments, old and new, like the guitar or accordion, and they draw upon their knowledge of complex rhythms and western harmonies to expand their musical possibilities.
In 2004, Alash won first prize at the International Symposium "Khoomei," throat singing competition. The group won "Best Folk Music Group" in 2000 and 2003, and they came to the United States for a concert tour in 2006 under the Open World Leaders program of the Library of Congress and National Endowment for the Arts.