June 18, 2023 will mark 40 years since 10 Baha’i women were hanged in Shiraz. Their only ‘crime’ was their refusal to renounce their beliefs in a faith that promotes the principles of gender equality, unity, justice, and truthfulness. This collection highlights Baha’i Blog content relating to the ongoing persecution of Baha’is in Iran.
Zahyia has released an album called Chapter 45. Zahyia is a songwriter, lyricist, producer and creative visionary and this eight track Baha’i-inspired album includes three songs based on excerpts from the Baha’i Writings, such as a musical meditation on the Long Healing Prayer.
The album is a personal reflection on the 45th year of her life and I was very curious to find out more. Here’s what Zahyia generously shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a songwriter, lyricist, producer and creative visionary living in Rochester, NY (USA) with my husband and four children. I’ve been performing as a full-time musician for over 20 years. When it comes to creating, I have a direct goal of existing in spaces that elevate limited narratives, images, and awareness of what it means to exist as a Black American woman.
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about Chapter 45?
It is my musical journal in Afro-Futurism. What you are hearing is my ancestors, my God, my children, and my journey of evolving through COVID in my 45th year of physical existence.
Baha’i Blog: What was the inspiration behind this album?
Growing up as a Baha’i, I was never able to fully connect with the music available for Baha’is. I felt unseen, unheard and misunderstood. As Baha’is, we understand music is the ladder to the soul but not everyone’s ladder sounds like Folk music. I see the need for more diversity in our music, our expression. I believe that this is the way we attract different hearts to the Cause. Music is a tool and Baha’is can use this not only for devotional praise, but also as a way to transform hearts.
The Rochester Local Spiritual Assembly made a commitment in mid-2021 to the creation of Baha’i music by local Black women. This was a decision inspired by recent guidance but also a response to the lack of Baha’i music online created by Black American women. As a result of some initial funding, two tracks were professionally recorded. After the completion on the two tracks I wanted to share them with the world, not just Baha’is. I did not have an intention to create an album. I just had an intention to create with the direction God led me.
Baha’i Blog: What’s something you’ve learned in the process of creating this album?
Every song on this album was recorded after a three-step process of prayer/act/reflect. I thought a lot about cycles and the importance of three-step processes in our Faith (expansion, consolidation, reflection). I see this album as a musical expansion phase. It will mean nothing without consolidation and reflection. I still don’t know what that will look like because we haven’t gotten there yet.
Baha’i Blog: What do you hope people will take with them long after they’ve finished listening?
I hope they can hear the world with a different perspective. I want you to truly connect to my heart. Cry with me, rejoice with me, praise with me, and accept me as I am.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Zahyia!
You can find out more about Zahyia and her music by checking out her website: zahyia.com
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.