Urna was born into a family of herders in the grasslands of the Ordos Plateau in Inner Mongolia, a society where song was a ubiquitous part of everyday life. Her first musical training was learning to play the yangqin—Chinese dulcimer—from a Shanghai Conservatory of Music professor who was visiting Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. Then, at the age of 18, she moved to study at the Shanghai Conservatory, a challenging step since she had no knowledge of the Chinese language. She now performs around the world, and is based in Bavaria, Germany and in Cairo, Egypt. In 2003, she was awarded the RUTH prize in Germany for Best International Artist.