Category Archives Interviews

Nordic Devotion: An Interview with Refuge

Refuge is the wonderful musical outcome of a group of friends and musicians in Finland, who came together to record an album inspired by the Holy Writings of the Baha’i Faith.

The majority of songs are in English but there are a few in Finish as well. This truly beautiful and inspirational album really swept me off my feet when I first heard it.

I decided to catch up with Elina Kuitunen and Mea Karvonen, two of the members of Refuge to find out more about this wonderful album and initiative. Continue reading

Acoustic Devotion: An Interview with Omid Master

Photo by Leila Barbaro

Singer-songwriter Omid Master lives in Port Douglass, a small coastal town popular with the tourists in the tropical north-east of Australia. Omid has been strumming and thumping out the tunes with a rock band for years, and having already released a few commercial albums with tracks successfully hitting the local charts, he’s recently taken it down a notch and recorded an acoustic album with the help of a few friends.

The album’s called Acoustic Baha’i Devotions, and that’s exactly what it is – Baha’i Prayers and Writings set to unplugged, down-to-earth acoustic guitar and other instruments.

I decided to catch up with Omid to talk about the album and his career as a musician in general. Continue reading

Baha’i On Air: An Interview with Ken Zemke

What Baha’i TV show has been running for over 12 years now and boasts over 200 episodes? “Baha’i On Air”, that’s what!

Since 1998, “Baha’i On Air” has been broadcasting every week in Auckland, on New Zealand’s community TV station. The show not only reaches Auckland’s population of one million people, but also broadcasts to the nation’s four million, and to other countries in the Pacific such as The Cook Islands, The Solomon Islands, and American Samoa.

Baha’i On Air is headed up by award winning Hollywood filmmaker Ken Zemke, who’s someone I’ve known and admired for a long time now and whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with on a couple of video projects over the years.

Ken has to be one of the hardest working people I know. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a camera in his hand, working on a project for the Faith.

I finally managed to catch up with Ken and asked him to talk to us about Baha’i On Air. Continue reading

An Interview with Oneworld Publications

Co-founders of Oneworld Publications husband and wife team Novin Doostar and Juliet Mabey.

Oneworld is an independent publisher focusing on non-fiction and was founded in 1986 by husband and wife team Juliet Mabey and Novin Doostdar. Oneworld now publishes around sixty books a year and works with authors, literary agents and publishing partners around the world.

I decided to catch up with Oneworld co-founder Juliet Mabey to find out more about the work they’re doing to bring quality, consciousness-raising books to as many people around the world as possible.

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Soul Food: Food for the Soul

It’s Sunday morning in the city of Melbourne, Australia, and a crowd of about 100 people gathers at the State Library of Victoria. Everyone’s eager to enter the auditorium, and they start lining up next to a sign labelled “Soul Food”. Everyone’s here because they’re hungry – but not for physical food, they’ve come to receive food for the soul.

Rated as one of the Top Ten things to do in Melbourne, Soul Food is a monthly event which has been running consistently for six years now. The program runs for about 40 minutes, and it features live readings from various faiths and philosophers woven together with beautiful imagery and live music.

I’ve been living in Melbourne for about three years now and Soul Food is definitely an event I’ve had locked in my calendar, so I decided to sit down with one of the organisers of the event, Nima Ferdowsi, and ask him about the initiative and its success. Continue reading

Create in Me a Pure Heart: An Interview with Luke Slott

Create in Me a Pure Heart, Luke Slott

The “Create in me a pure heart” prayer by Baha’u’llah has long been one of my favourite prayers for spiritual growth. Whenever I read this prayer, my mind is drawn to the beauty of its imagery, and regardless of how I was feeling when I began reading the prayer, I begin to feel a profound tranquility.

Luke Slott’s beautiful musical rendition of this prayer is befitting and always reminds me of one of my favourite lines from the prayer: “Let Thine everlasting melodies breathe tranquility on me”.  So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that Luke’s rendition of Create in Me a Pure Heart is merely part of a larger project: an album of devotional music! (Not to mention the beautiful album artwork by Shirin Sahba!)

I decided to catch up with Luke to find out more about his devotional album, his future plans, as well as his thoughts on being a Baha’i musician.

Baha’i Blog: So tell us a bit more about yourself and how you started making music.

When I was 12 years old, my father, who was a jazz trumpet player, gave me a gift of one of his trumpets and started giving me lessons. After about a year of teaching me at home, my dad insisted that I get a classical music education at an established institute. So I enrolled for trumpet lessons at the College of Music & Drama in Dublin. Around the same time, I started taking piano lessons at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and guitar lessons with a local teacher. In my teens, I started writing songs and for a few years I played in a rock band with some school friends. Continue reading

Heart to Heart: An Interview with Tahereh Etehad

Tahereh Etehad has a love for music and when the call came for Baha’is to help raise money for the Baha’i House of Worship in Chile, she stepped forward and decided to do her part by putting her vocal talents and musical abilities to good use by creating “Heart to Heart”, and contributing all the proceeds to the Chile Temple Fund.

I decided to catch up with Tahereh to find out more about her album and her thoughts on making music as a Baha’i.

Baha’i Blog: So tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion for music.

From a young age, I knew I was passionate about music. Celine Dion was my idol! When I was 10, I started to learn how to read music. I stopped going for lessons after a few years but continued to teach myself music. I have never been trained vocally but I feel that through my passion, I am able to express myself naturally through music.

When I was 16, I began writing music. When I finished high school, I completed a Bachelor of Popular Music. The Faith has transcended my passion for music to a whole new level. As Baha’u’llah says: “We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high…” Continue reading

Blogging about Children’s Classes: An Interview with Leyla Neilsen

Image from bahaichildrensclass.wordpress.com

At Baha’i Blog, we like our blogs. You’ve heard us wax lyrical about the importance of encouraging Baha’i blogging. A few months ago, we featured Blog The Faith, a fantastic resource for Baha’is who want to use blogs as a form of social discourse. In addition to its very helpful Baha’i Blogging 101, with tips for those new to blogging, the website also features examples of 8 great Baha’i Blogs to inspire you and get you started on your own.

Recently, I came across a fantastic blog by Leyla Neilsen from New Zealand devoted entirely to one of the core activities: children’s classes! It’s a fantastic resource – not just for lots of creative ideas for really great children’s classes, but also as a source of inspiration and motivation for everyone out there who currently runs, or is looking to start, their very own children’s class!

I think Leyla’s blog is a fantastic example of how blogging can support and enhance the service that people are doing all over the world. And so, I caught up with her to have a quick chat about her blog, her children’s classes and her thoughts on blogging the Faith!

Continue reading