The situation for the Baha’is in Iran took a turn for the worse after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, and as the Baha’is in Iran continue to face persecution, many Baha’is around the world continue to work towards ensuring their freedom through peaceful diplomacy, various awareness campaigns, and of course through the power of prayer.
This ongoing persecution is the driving force behind the music of Badi Yazdi, and in his new album entitled Yaran, Badi shares with us a selection of seven prayers chanted in Persian and underscored by Eric Harper. Each prayer is dedicated to the seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders in Iran, who collectively are known as ‘The Yaran’.
I decided to catch up with Badi Yazdi to find out more about the album and the initiative as a whole:
Baha’i Blog: Hi Mr. Yazdi, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your musical background?
I am actually an engineer. I have a Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering and an MBA in Project Management. I’m also a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt in quality. I work for the Boeing Company in Huntington Beach, California and I have many years of Engineering, manufacturing and quality management experience.
Music for me is a hobby and a way of service to the Baha’i Faith. My passion for chanting verses from the sacred Writings of the Baha’i Faith in Persian has led me to create three albums. I’m also passionate about raising money for the Faith. I was able to donate all the proceedings from the sale of my albums to the Faith.
My first album Ya Baha Madadi, was completed in 1995 and it was inspired by a poem by Mr. Houshmand Fatheazam, a previous member of the Universal House of Justice.
The Niayesh album was my second release, and it’s a collection of eleven Baha’i prayers chanted in Persian and accompanied by Persian traditional music and instruments.
Mr. Behrooz Tavakoli, one of the 7 Yaran, is my cousin’s husband. I truly have very deep personal feelings and a connection with his situation and captivity. I try to do what I can to help the process of freeing the Yaran, and in this case I intend to forward all proceedings of the sale of this Yaran album earmarked to “Freedom of Yaran” to be sent to the International Fund; but also by spreading the Yaran CD as wide as possible to the friends around the world, I hope that the album’s seven prayers will help generate more and more prayers being said for the freedom and wellbeing of the Yaran, and for all those prisoners of conscience imprisoned in Iran.
Baha’i Blog: In the album sleeve you mention that the album came about as a result of the encouragement of the late Hand of the Cause Dr. Varqa. Can you tell us a little more about this?
Baha’i Blog: What is different about the sound of this album compared to other Persian albums?
In 2006 I traveled to Haifa, Israel for pilgrimage, and during that time I had the honor of being asked to meet with Hand of the Cause Dr. Ali-Muhammad Varqa. During this meeting, Dr. Varqa encouraged me to start working on an album which transcended genre, and which all listeners could enjoy. Dr. Varqa also asked me to work on old Baha’i songs and to record them with higher quality and arrangements so that the old Baha’i songs could have better circulation and wider distribution in the world.
This album is different because we combine Persian chanting with Western musical accompaniment. With the collaboration of Eric Harper, who did all of the instrumentation on the album and produced it, we were able to achieve the idea of an album which transcends genre, and which all listeners can enjoy and appreciate.
Baha’i Blog: How did you choose which Baha’i Writings to use for this album? Was there a certain theme?
The selection of Writings chosen were taken from Baha’i prayers, mainly asking God for the freedom of our friends from prison and for their protection. Some also refer to the theme of reflecting on what Baha’u’llah wants for us, and how we should obey God’s will and not be sad.
Baha’i Blog: How has the album been received by the community so far?
Baha’i Blog: If you could have 5 minutes with the members of the Yaran, what would you say to them?
The album has been really well received by many seasoned Baha’i musicians as well as the friends who have listened to the album.
I also just completed a song based on a Poem that Mrs. Mahvash Sabet (one of the Yaran) wrote in prison. It is in its final music arrangement and recording stages and the song will be available to everyone soon.
I would say to them: “Thank your for your sacrifice… you are all in our hearts and thoughts and prayers until the day of your freedom!”
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much Mr. Yazdi for taking the time to do this interview, and a special thank you to you and Eric Harper for your wonderful album and for your support of the imprisoned Yaran.
You can purchase a copy of Yaran from your local Baha’i bookstore, or from 9 Star Media here.