Declaration of the Bab

  • In 1844, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad (known by His title, the Bab, which means "the Gate") announced that He was the bearer of a Divine Revelation whose aim was to prepare the world for a Messenger of God--Baha'u'llah. The anniversary of that declaration is celebrated by Baha'is and their friends all over the world.
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This post is featured in the following collections:

Our Story Is One: The Persecution of Baha’is in Iran

in Explore > Themes

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.

Ten Angels – A New Album by Grant Hindin Miller

April 28, 2024, in Articles > Music, by

I know I am not the only one who considers Grant Hindin Miller to be musically legendary. I remember when I mentioned to a fellow youth that I hadn’t heard of him before and they replied, “You haven’t heard of Grant Hindin Miller?!” His soulful acoustic sounds have accompanied my life ever since. It’s a joy to hear from Grant about his latest album called Ten Angels, released during this historic 40th anniversary of the execution of ten Baha’i women in Shiraz.

Singer-songwriter Grant Hindin Miller

For our readers who aren’t familiar with your music, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was blessed to be born in New Zealand–way down in the South Pacific–which is one of the reasons I called an album From Afar. Ours was an open-air carefree existence; simple, casual, and mostly outdoors.

Raised in a non-religious home I didn’t begin to contemplate spirituality until I was in my late teens. There’s a song on this album called “From the Sun” which I wrote on a French beach when I was 20. I had sailed to England on a Greek ship and found a guitar that had been thrown out in a London skip. My friend painted a bright sunflower surrounding the sound-circle and I carried it in a camper van around Europe. When writing the song I found myself singing the phrase “my Lord” which surprised me. I became a Baha’i two years later (1972) and how fortunate that was (“if you think I’m bad now you should have seen me then!”).

Can you tell us a little bit about your style of music and the albums you’ve produced over the years?

I’m heavily influenced by the singer-songwriter music of the sixties and also by my father’s piano-playing–he used to belt out music from the thirties and forties–which I felt transported by and loved. I like acoustic instruments and most of my songs are guitar-based. The first thing I did when I bought a guitar (a nylon-stringed Suzuki around the age of 16) was to try and write a song. I was disconcerted to discover it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Like everything it takes work and practice (knowledge, volition, and action) but if you persevere the songs pop up. 

When I became a Baha’i I was deeply affected by the stories of the early believers and wanted to celebrate them in song. So I began to write about various incidents from the history of the Faith; and also to try to create songs based on the Writings of the Faith. Eleven albums later we have this new collection which is called Ten Angels.

Can you tell us a little bit about Ten Angels

I was asked if I might write a song for the Our Story is One campaign (about the ten heroic Baha’i women who were executed by hanging in Shiraz in 1983). So the first track on the album is that song (which is also the name of the album). I didn’t want to write a lament about “victims”–I wanted the song to celebrate the wills of these women–their triumphant courage. The words of the chorus: “Lift up your voices and sing out…” come directly from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha.

I had also been asked by a Persian friend if I might write a song about Mulla Jafar, the first believer in Isfahan–“Sifter of Wheat” is that track. When I imagined Mulla Husayn visiting the clerics of Isfahan it seemed like the scene of a film so I wanted the song to be cinematic (let me know if it worked). Another track is about the extraordinary Canadian Baha’i, Marion Jack, who pioneered to Bulgaria and experienced harsh privations (especially during World War Two). I’ve always loved Marion Jack. Another song on the album is called “Pioneer” which pays homage to all the unsung individuals–ordinary Baha’is–who go somewhere, hold up the flag, and keep going even when it may be lonely and hard–I see them as saints really.

A number of the songs are from the Writings of Baha’u’llah: “O My Brother” combines two Hidden Words; “Great is the Station of Man” is an amalgam of a number of extracts from the Writings of Baha’u’llah; also “For the Love of God”.

“The Rose Window” is a reflection on the stained glass window of Notre Dame in Paris.

What inspired you to produce this album?

Being asked to write the song for the campaign ‘Our Story is One’ was the catalyst; but many Baha’is have been kind enough to share that the songs help them learn the Writings and help bring alive the history of the Faith. We all contribute in the ways that we can and it’s something I love to do. 

Could you tell us about the spiritual principles that inform your music or your creative practice?

Affirming spiritual truth is the guiding theme of all the songs–an attempt to validate spiritual reality. On a personal level I have always been motivated to try and write a good song. I want the sound of the song to be sympathetic to its subject. I want the structure, the melody and words to work together, so that something of the DNA of the story or some essence of a Writing finds its way into the piece. If successful, one of the things I think all the arts achieve is “to frame” and provide a focus for emotional experience. If a song, a painting, a dramatic performance, is born from the heart then we hope it will find a way to the heart; and confirm, validate, and even inspire the experience of others.

What do you hope your listeners will take away with them long after they’ve finished listening?

Melodies (and sometimes phrases and images) can be memory-friendly so, hopefully, because they’re in a song, the Writings may be able to be accessed and brought to consciousness more easily; or in a ballad the emotion and example of the life (on which the tale is based) may embed its spirit within us, may inspire us (help us to share it with others). Arts enrich. They enrich our processes and gatherings–I hope people will use the songs in ways that will support their activities (at a Feast, a Holy Day, a study circle, a children’s class, in personal reflection, or to sing together etc).

All of my songs are written and produced to validate the history, teachings, and Writings of the Baha’i Faith. They are written and recorded for no other reason than to be shared.

Thank you, Grant, for taking the time to share this with us!

You can listen to Ten Angels on Apple Music and Spotify, and YouTube music and you’ll find the music video for its title track on YouTube.

Posted by

Sonjel Vreeland

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.
Sonjel Vreeland

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