As you may have noticed from things like Baha’i Blog’s Studio Sessions series or all of the music-related interviews we’ve done, you’ve hopefully come to realize that here at Baha’i Blog we’re passionate about the use of the arts and music. That’s why I was thrilled when I found out about a wonderful initiative called The Baha’i Song Project, a unique and exciting website that was originally launched in 2011 to foster and encourage the incorporation of music and singing in community life. Created by Dayyan Smith and Nadine Reyhani, the The Baha’i Song Project includes videos of songs from the Baha’i Writings, in a multiplicity of languages, and downloadable lyrics and chords so anyone can learn the melody and the words. The site is easy-to-use and brimming with resources like their YouTube Channel, so I got in touch with Nadine and Dayyan who were happy to share more about this wonderful initiative:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us what the “Baha’i Song Project” is, and what it aims to do?
The idea behind Baha’i Song Project is that resources for learning to play and sing Baha’i songs should be accessible to everyone. So what the website does is to provide videos of people singing and playing prayers, quotations and Hidden Words and PDF sheets with the words and chords to download.
We see the Baha’i Song Project as a platform for songs that are sung in communities – you know, those songs where everyone joins in and the room is filled with beautiful melodies and harmonies, those songs that uplift us and bring joy to the hearts.
Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to start this?
Our first recordings were made at a Ruhi camp. We found so much joy in singing together at the camp, but it was rare at 19 Day Feasts and devotional gatherings at the time, since only few people knew how to play guitar. There was a need for a platform to share resources for learning Baha’i songs. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for beginners to learn guitar so that they could start playing Baha’i songs in their communities.
Baha’i Blog: Why do your videos never show faces?
In order to learn a song, say accompanied by guitar, what you need is to see the guitar and hear the melody. We chose to not show people’s faces because what matters really are the words of God, although of course, the project wouldn’t exist were it not for all the people who sacrificed their time and musical skills – especially during ISGP breaks – to make Baha’i song project what it is.
Dozens of people, mostly youth, from 10 different countries have been involved so far!
Baha’i Blog: What’s the response been like so far?
Our videos have gotten a total of 180,000 views with viewers coming from 96 countries. Baha’i Song Project is being used to learn songs for children’s classes and devotionals and as a central reference to find new songs to learn or songs everyone already knows. I’m always happy to learn someone is using it to teach themselves how to play guitar. When I see a spike in the statistics for a specific city, I’m assuming that people are coming together to sing at a gathering or conference.
Baha’i Blog: What are your plans for Baha’i Song Project going forward?
We have a lot of ideas to make Baha’i Song Project even more user-friendly and have a list of other features we would like the website to have, but don’t always have the resources ourselves because well, we aren’t web developers. But we think that organic growth is very important for an initiative like that and surely we’ll rely on many other people who can help Baha’i Song Project reach its full potential in the future.
We are trying to capture the diversity of Baha’i music found all around the world and are already working with a number of friends to publish songs from even more communities. Contact us if you would like to contribute!
Baha’i Blog: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview, and keep up the wonderful work!