The Orb – A New Album by James Mohajer in Honour of Abdu’l-Baha

You may recognize the name James Mohajer, or perhaps you’re familiar with his voice! He participated in three Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions that were recorded in London: “O Thou Candle”, “Let Your Joy” and “Apple of Mine Eye”. We also interviewed him about his album Ascend (you can read that interview here on Baha’i Blog).

It’s a joy and a pleasure to hear from James again, this time about his latest album The Orb. Here’s what James said:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell me a little bit about this album and the story behind it?

So the album was put together in preparation for, or rather in commemoration of, the centenary of the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha, which took place in November 2021. Over the years, I have put many writings and prayers of Abdu’l-Baha to music, including my first ever Baha’i song, “My Name is Abdu’l-Baha”, which appears on the album as This is My Eternal Life, which I wrote when I was 16 at the Baha’i Institute Centre in Cranmore Tower in England. Because of that, and also because of the amazingly beautiful yet understandable and relatable way in which Abdu’l-Baha writes or speaks, His words have often been used for my Baha’i music. Also, as the centenary is such a huge occasion for Baha’is around the world, and since I hadn’t managed to release a second album after my first one entitled Ascend back in 2019, this Holy Day provided the perfect reason for me to put it together.

Baha’i Blog: Why was this album important for you to create personally?

I have always loved music and, more importantly, always loved to share my music with others. I really know the effect that music can have on one’s soul and there is really nothing else like it. As I said, I have been trying to put together a new album for a while, as I have so many unpublished songs. The centenary of the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha was therefore the perfect excuse for me to get my act together, especially considering I missed out on releasing an album for the Bicentenary of the Births of both the Bab and Baha’u’llah! It was also important to me because it also shows my development as a musician as well. The album contains a few differently styled songs than my usual mellow acoustic style. Three of the songs are much more upbeat and include drums, with “O Army of God” even containing a guitar solo! I was also able, during this process, to put one of the prayers for the departed to music. My mother passed away when I was seven years old, and the prayers by Abdu’l-Baha for the departed for women have always been a big part of my prayer repertoire. However, I had never been able to put one of them to music before, struggling for hours and hours to try and make one fit, but somehow, and I should say with the great help of my wonderful wife, I was able to write “She is Afire” in preparation for this album.

Baha’i Blog: Is there anything unique about this album in particular, and what was the journey like for you in creating the album?

James Mohajer and his wife, Tara, in the recording studio.

That all the songs are either about or taken from the writings of Abdu’l-Baha is unique to this album. I really spent a lot of time trying to think about what an album created for Abdu’l-Baha would look like. Would I write songs about His life? His deeds? His stories? Or would it instead focus on His many different qualities? Or would it be something else that is central to Abdu’l-Baha’s life, like the Covenant? In the end, I settled on a mix of a few things to try and capture everything, but the Covenant definitely was a big focus, and that was also how I decided on the album title, “The Orb”. It occurred to me the more I reflected that Abdu’l-Baha contributed so much to our understanding of the Covenant, and really He was incredible in the way that He dedicated His whole life to serving it, and never Himself. The album was really a wonderful way for me to get closer to Abdu’l-Baha and understand His station even more. It was also very special for me in terms of a significant life moment to include the song my wife and I wrote and sang together at our wedding.

Baha’i Blog: What do you hope listeners will take with them once they’ve listened to the album?

I personally see the album as a story about Abdu’l-Baha’s life. It starts with His appointment as successor to Baha’u’llah and how His blessings are always with us, moves to how Abdu’l-Baha viewed Himself as the Servant of Baha, then looks at some of His prayers and writings on treating others, on teaching, on love, and on death, before finishing with a song about the Covenant and what it meant to Him. I really hope that the album can be used to help listeners reflect on Abdu’l-Baha’s life and qualities, and not just focus on the individual songs, so that it can lead to further reflections and meditations about Him, His purpose, and His Ministry more generally. Of course, if listeners can find peace and tranquillity after listening, then that would also be wonderful!

Baha’i Blog: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I really hope you enjoy the album and use it wherever and whenever you can. It is available on Spotify and Apple Music for streaming, as well as on iTunes and Bandcamp for purchasing, but please don’t take that as an underhanded request for people to buy it! I am very blessed that I am able to produce my music separately to my career and do not depend on it for subsistence, and so my wish with my music is simply that it is, shared, used, and listened to! I want to also thank Adrian Zendeh of Spring Water Records for all his support and help in the recording process – it was really exciting being the first artist for his new Baha’i record label.

I also want to say thank you to all my listeners for your support and also to the Baha’i Blog Team, because actually it was being asked to record some songs when you came to London back in 2018 that I first developed the courage to properly record my music, which led to Ascend being released in 2019. It really is a wonderful thing you are doing!

Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much for your kind words, James. I’m so happy to hear that Baha’i Blog was able to encourage you with your music.

Thanks also for taking the time to do this interview and congratulations on your new album, James!

You can download and purchase ‘The Orb’ on all major online music providers, and here on Bandcamp: James Mohajer – The Orb

About the Author

Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

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