- Baha’is abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset for 19 days. While this abstention from food and drink is a test of one’s will and discipline, the Fast is not just about abstaining from food. The Fast is, primarily, a spiritual practice.
Once-in-a-while you meet someone who’s able to pick up any instrument and play it, and Jamey Heath is one of those extremely talented musicians, who can not only play just about everything, but who also has a beautiful voice – and boy can he sing!
I keep bumping into Jamey at different events and conferences throughout the years, and most often he’s behind a piano or with guitar in hand singing a song based on a Baha’i prayer or the Writings.
If you’ve seen the Baha’i How Are You episode of Soul Pancake’s ‘Have a little Faith’ series, well he’s in that. Yep, that’s him singing and playing the guitar in the gathering.
Jamey comes from a family of musicians. In fact, his father Walter Heath has what I think is one of the best sounding Baha’i albums ever made called Praise His Name, and guess what? Jamey produced it. His family was also heavily involved with the Happy Ayyam-i-Ha album with Hand of the Cause Mr. William Sears, and in fact Jamey was one of the children singing on the album, and he’s on the cover as well.
Probably what stands out the most to me about Jamey (besides the fact that he’s extremely funny and will always make you laugh), is the fact that he makes himself available whenever possible to serve others through his gift of music. Surprisingly however, for all that Jamey’s been involved with and done for others musically over the years, he’s never actually released an album of his own… until now.
I Have Returned to Thee is Jamey Heath’s debut album based on a collection of Baha’i Prayers and Writings, and I couldn’t wait to corner him and hear more about it:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell me a little about yourself and your musical background?
Sure. Let’s see if I can sum me up in a paragraph. I was born into a hugely successful musical family. From record sales to management, recording studios, production offices, touring… you name it, I was raised with it. Apparently, I myself exhibited some musical talent from a very early age and having such incredible resources around me I was able to develop into a pretty decent musician. I was able to secure work very early on which allowed me to establish a name for myself as a songwriter and producer. So here I am, still doing what I love and very lucky to have had a pretty good career doing it…
Baha’i Blog: What was the idea behind this album and what are you hoping to achieve?
Well, the idea behind the album is quite simple. I have throughout my life recorded many, many songs that I have written or produced for other artists, but I have never focused on doing a record of my own. I would do a song here and there that I would lend to different projects, but never a complete body of work that reflected my own journey. So the idea here was to take some of the Writings of the Faith that resonated most with me and set them to music, and hope that I might be able to capture part of my personal journey of struggles and victories.
What I’m hoping to achieve? Hmmm… Well… I don’t know really how to answer that. That Maybe the words of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha, will be sung just a little bit more.
Baha’i Blog: At the ABS conference last year you had mentioned that you were trying to focus on using your musical gift to serve the Faith, and that you would happily support or play at any Firesides, conferences etc if possible. Why do you think this is important and can you elaborate on this a little?
Wow, yes I did mention that I’d support any Fireside didn’t I? Well look, to me there is no point in being a Baha’i artist if I’m not willing to support Baha’i initiatives by offering myself and art to it. So, if there is something that someone needs assistance with and I can be of service to it, then my answer is yes. It will always be yes. So long as resources allow for it and of course I’m not already committed elsewhere, my commitment to Baha’u’llah is to say yes. Always!
We can’t only be of service when we want to. It has to be whenever there is a need.
Baha’i Blog: Why do you think it’s important to put the Baha’i Writings in particular to music?
That’s easy… Baha’u’llah says “We have made music a ladder by which souls may ascend to the realm on high…”
And also Abdu’l-Baha says “The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure, and melodies have great influence in them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music…”
Next question please.
Baha’i Blog: How has the album been received so far?
You know, it seems that people are enjoying it. I have had some wonderful email’s and phone calls from people expressing their pleasure with my CD. I don’t know how to answer that so well actually, but I do think it’s selling pretty well, which is inspiring in terms of doing another CD sometime.
Baha’i Blog: Will you be working on any similar follow-up albums or what are your plans for the future?
So I believe that answer is a yes! Yes I will be working on a follow up. I mean, I’m always composing music to the Writings of the Faith, its just a matter of if the music is good enough to present the Sacred Words in song.
Hopefully, I will be able to complete a full album of music in order to release another CD sometime soon.
Baha’i Blog: What message do you have to other musicians out there?
Oh no, this question always scares me. I never want to seem like I have something wise and profound to say to another person as if they don’t already know it themselves. ….But….Ok here it goes… Remember that the art and talent you have was only given to you so that is would be shared selflessly with the world. We can enjoy some wonderful things in this world, and I believe it is ok to do so, so long as we are fulfilling His purpose first – which then becomes our purpose.
Baha’i Blog: Jamey, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. Congratulations on the release of this wonderful album and thanks for all of the service you continue to render.
You can buy a copy of I Have Returned to Thee by Jamey Heath from your local Baha’i bookstore, or from 9 Star Media.
Leave a Reply
"*" indicates required fields
The arts and media have a critical role in how we share our community experiences. We’ve got resources, projects and more to help you get involved.
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia.
We recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their cultures; and to elders both past and present.