Mirza Husayn-Ali, who is known to the world by His title, Baha’u’llah, was born in Tehran, Iran on 12 November, 1817. Baha’u’llah means “Glory of God” in Arabic and He is the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith. The anniversary of the day He was born is celebrated alongside the Birth of the forerunner of His Revelation, the Bab. These Twin Holy Days are celebrated annually as one festival where the closely interwoven missions of these two Divine Luminaries are remembered together.
Remember My Days: A New Album by Corinne Padilla McLoughlin
It’s been incredible to witness a flourishing of artistic expressions celebrating the Bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. Corinne Padilla McLoughlin has produced an album entitled Remember My Days. The tracks incorporate elements from various genres including jazz, blues, folk, classical, rock and world music and each song is a heartfelt tribute to Baha’u’llah.
We love to hear how albums come together and Corinne happily shared the learning process and creativity behind Remember My Days.
Baha’i Blog: To begin, could you please tell us a little bit about the album and its significance?
The album is an attempt to capture some part of the beauty of our relationship with Baha’u’llah and our lives as human beings and as Baha’is. In selecting the songs to include in the album I focused on finding songs that contain some aspect of this relationship. This is why there are three songs that are direct quotes from Baha’u’llah, and there are songs that present themes of transformation, steadfastness, love, and also songs that express what a person may be feeling and thinking when visiting Bahji (the resting place of Baha’u’llah), and the feelings and sentiments of a pilgrim. One song pays tribute to Duarte Vieira, the first Baha’i martyr in the African continent. It was such a blessing that Mrs. Joan Lincoln allowed me the use of her compositions (five of the songs in the album are Joany’s). I was also fortunate to record a song from Rowshan and a love-song dedicated to Baha’u’llah composed by my parents, Jane and Ronaldo Padilla.
Baha’i Blog: Why was it important for you to make this album?
I have felt the immense energy that the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah has brought since last year, leading up to this year, and I’ve always wanted to record an album of Baha’i-inspired music. The celebration of the Birth of Baha’u’llah gave me the impetus, and the irresistible urgency to do this work.
Baha’i Blog: What do you hope listeners will take away with them after they’ve heard the album?
I hope that listeners will enjoy the music and that the words in these songs may touch their hearts and enrich their daily lives in some way.
Baha’i Blog: What has the response to the album been like so far?
I’ve had positive comments about how diverse the musical influences in the album are. People seem to enjoy having a variety of musical styles represented. I also particularly treasure a voice message sent by a friend whose words indicated that the words and music touched her deeply. There have been people as far afield as Cambodia and Australia who said they are enjoying the album. I have been heartened by the response from people who are from many different backgrounds and also by the great enthusiasm shown by the wonderful violinist who plays in the album, Alan Smale, such that we’re now looking to plan a concert in 2018 with Remember My Days at its heart.
Baha’i Blog: What was the process of working on this like for you personally? Are there any stories about the album or some of the songs you’d like to share?
Making the album was a huge learning curve in so many ways, and a source of joy. I really feel that I’ve been so lucky in finding the people that I’ve worked with on this project. There were moments when I felt a real spiritual connection to the instrumentalists who kindly gave their time, energy and talent. It was wonderful to perceive in these musician friends of mine excitement in being involved in putting the music together.
It was a challenge as a mother to carve out the time needed to work on the album while keeping up with the schedule of family life and work. Also, working out the logistics of recording sessions took some planning and resourcefulness. I am grateful to my husband and children who really fully understood the importance of producing the album, and made adjustments accordingly. They were with me, even in the creative process, every step of the way.
Composing songs does not come easily to me, therefore when I wanted to compose music for the title track using an excerpt from the Tablet of Ahmad, I found myself stuck for many weeks with no melody coming to mind. One morning while camping at the Baha’i Summer School in Ireland, my six-year-old daughter Nura was copying the song of a pigeon. The pigeon would call, and Nura would answer with the same call “Kru-kru-kru-kru-kru!” As we were in a hurry to get ready for the children’s session I asked her in a harassed sort of voice to stop chanting the same thing again and again… until I realised that the pigeon’s call was actually a beautiful line on which to build a melody. That was the beginning of the song, and I developed it with the help of a friend who plays guitar well. But essentially I think the song almost composed itself.
Another little funny coincidence in the making of the album is that both the clarinet player and the mandolin and tin-whistle player are called Alan. And then as I was looking for a violinist and cellist to play the last instrumental elements, I happened to mention to my friend who was then preparing to record her harp for the album that I was looking for a violinist. She replied that she knows a really good violinist. I asked for his name and contact details – his name was Alan! He played the violin beautifully and in the end we didn’t need a cello. And do you know, my friend the harpist also happens to have a brother called Alan.
I am reminded of how Baha’u’llah says “look to the end of things” when I think of how this album came into being. It basically started with the decision to make an album in time for the celebration of the Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. A lot of the process that came afterwards involved following my nose (clues/hunches), checking out some paths and then changing the plan when something didn’t work. This applies from the selection of songs to instrumental arrangements and so on. I didn’t know everything that I needed to know to complete the work at each stage, and I just took one step at a time, and learned as I went along. I had a definite sense of divine assistance all throughout and truly believe that I couldn’t have completed the album without Baha’u’llah’s help.
Baha’i Blog: How can people listen to and purchase the album?
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.