Category Archives Interviews

Divine Collaboration: An Interview with The Descendants


When three really close friends from California – Bella Blue, Aubrey Wood and Gia Sky – hear about the 114 world-wide Youth Conferences announced by the Universal House of Justice, they decide to get together to see what they could do to support it – oh, and did I mention that they’re all professional musicians!?

What resulted from their get-together was the creation of a music group called The Descendants and the release of a wonderful debut album called A Divine Collaboration.

The lyrics of their songs are all taken directly from the Baha’i Writings, prayers and holy texts, and the group sets them beautifully to uplifting contemporary music.

Since the launch of their album the group has been busy performing, but I managed to get them to squeeze in an interview with Baha’i Blog so we could find out more about the group and their awesome debut album. Continue reading

WhyUnite? Introductory Baha’i Materials for Everyone

A couple of months ago I wrote a post here on Baha’i Blog called 10 Great Introductory Books on the Baha’i Faith and my aim was to showcase some of the books available for those who want to learn more about the Baha’i Faith. The reality though, is that different people learn in different ways and maybe some of those books are not for everyone, or you’re simply looking for new materials to share with your friends, so that’s why I’m happy to introduce an awesome new initiative called WhyUnite?.

WhyUnite? is series of compelling introductory materials about the Baha’i Faith and the aim is to provide individuals with a variety of options to help them in their exploration of the Faith. Based on the idea that each person learns differently, and that every individual has a unique path they must follow in order to find the truth, meaning, and purpose that will help them reach their fullest potential in the world, WhyUnite? offers a choice of books, compilations, video talks, interviews, events, and more to help introduce the Faith.

This initiative has been a labor of love for husband and wife team Nathan and Sarah Thomas, and I managed to catch up with Nathan to find out more about these wonderful new resources. Continue reading

Baha’i Web Project: Get Your LSA a Free Website

As the number of people getting online to learn more about the Baha’i Faith continues to grow, local Baha’i communities around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the importance and the advantages of having an online presence.

Here at Baha’i Blog we often get asked by our readers if there’s some way we can help them build a website for their local Baha’i community or their Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA), or if we know someone who can help them. Unfortunately we just don’t have the time ourselves, and we’re not always sure who to pass them on to, so we end up pointing them to this Baha’i Blog post about building a fast and free website… but happily now that’s about to change…

(Drum roll please!)

Introducing the Baha’i Web Five Year Plan Project!

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Phoenix of Love: An Interview with Shidan Toloui-Wallace

I’m excited to introduce Baha’i Blog’s readers to Shidan Toloui-Wallace, one of the most admired contemporary Persian and Arabic chanters in the Baha’i world. Now ‘chanting’ is not to be confused with singing – although Shidan does that beautifully as well – but as she explained to me, chanting is a form of improvised singing usually based on Holy Scriptures or poetry, and a person chanting may chant the same piece of scripture differently every time.

Shidan Toloui-Wallace recently released her second album titled Phoenix of Love, which features Baha’i prayers and poems chanted in Persian and Arabic, as well as English collaborations with her daughter Shadi Toloui-Wallace, whom we interviewed here on Baha’i Blog as well.

Shidan’s reputation was established during the time she was a volunteer at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel from 1991–1997. She was regularly asked to chant on special occasions such as Holy Day observances, and it was during her time in Haifa that she recorded her first album entitled The Call of Carmel with her dear friend Taraneh Rafati, and Shidan’s uncle, the late Masood Missaghian played the Persian Santoor (also called a Hammer Dulcimer) on the album.

Some 15 years later in late 2012, Shidan decided to record Phoenix of Love, and so I thought it would be great to catch-up with Shidan to find out more about this wonderful album, which although it is predominantly in Persian and Arabic, also includes wonderful musical fusions of East and West . Continue reading

Kindle: An Interview with Natasha Chiang

One of the things I absolutely love discovering is new Baha’i inspired music, and one of the wonderful benefits of running Baha’i Blog is that we get to share these awesome musical discoveries with the rest of the Baha’i world!

A friend of mine recently introduced me to the beautiful music of Natasha Chiang, a new Baha’i artist in Australia who just released her debut album a few weeks ago entitled Kindle.

Kindle was produced and arranged by musical legend Louie Shelton, and the whole album is based on Baha’i prayers.

There are also a couple of tracks where Natasha sings in Mandarin, and it’s really great to hear the Baha’i Writings being sung in Chinese.

I decided to catch up with Natasha Chiang to find out more about her and her music.
Continue reading

Verdant Isle: An Interview with Shadi Toloui-Wallace

Australian singer and songwriter Shadi Toloui-Wallace was raised in a musical family, but her own musical journey with the Faith really came to fruition when she recognised the need within the Baha’i community for more contemporary forms of music that are inspired by the teachings of the Baha’u’llah. With the support and encouragement of her family, and the legendary Louie Shelton coming on board to produce the album, Shadi launched her debut album called Leather Bound Book, which quickly took the Baha’i world by storm.

I first met Shadi about four years ago when I had just moved to Melbourne, Australia, and Shadi had just released her debut album. She had come to Melbourne to perform at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and her captivating music swept the audience right off their feet! Continue reading

At First Light: An Interview with Chelsea Lee Smith

Chelsea Lee Smith has been busy! Not only has she been busy working as a full-time mom, but among other things, she’s one of the main driving forces behind the wonderful blog for parenting called Enable Me To Grow, and also the Radiant Hearts educational resource which is aimed at assisting in the spiritual education of children.

And now Chelsea, along with the help of her husband Zafar and two children, has just released yet another resource called At First Light, Volume 1, which is a musical album based on 20 short quotations from the Baha’i Writings.

This wonderful album is a great way for kids and adults alike to memorise the Baha’i Writings, and the album also comes with 20 instrumental tracks of each song as well, so everyone can sing along!

With Ayyam-i-Ha coming up soon, I’m going to be buying a few copies for some of my family and friends, and I thought this would also be good opportunity to let others know about this wonderful album, so I decided to catch up with Chelsea to hear more about the initiative.  Continue reading

A Baha’i Perspective Podcast: An interview with Warren Odess-Gillett

Over the last several years, American Baha’i Warren Odess-Gillet has been hosting and broadcasting a weekly Baha’i radio program over the airwaves called A Baha’i Perspective.

The program is fascinating, as it’s based on interviews with individual Baha’is who share the personal stories of their lives and how they found the Baha’i Faith.

You dont have to tune into the radio to have a listen though, as the program is also available as a podcast on iTunes as well, and it’s a podcast I often listen to on my headphones while taking the train to work.

I thought it was time someone put Warren on the receiving end of being asked questions, so I decided to catch up with him and find out more about A Baha’i Perspective.  Continue reading

Study the Faith – A New Site to Help You Study the Baha’i Writings

Study the Faith is a great new site which helps you do exactly just that: “Study the Faith”.

When it comes to studying the Baha’i Writings, this wonderful new online initiative takes you through the process of familiarising and deepening your understanding of certain topics or texts within the Baha’i Faith by helping you decide what to study, how to study, and where to find more information.

The site was started by Maryam, Naeem and Neysan – three of my friends based in Germany, so I decided to get in touch with them to find out more about it. Continue reading

The Baha’i Faith in Words and Images

Oneworld Publications has just released a fantastic new book called The Baha’i Faith in Words and Images.

The book combines breathtaking photography and intelligent accompanying text to produce a beautiful coffee-table book, which gives readers comprehensive coverage of the Faith’s teachings, texts, practices, community life and organization, with images reflecting its rich architectural heritage and the international diversity of its members.

Paul Slaughter spent three years travelling around the world to capture the photographs for the book, and John Danesh and Seena Fazel wrote the accompanying text. Many of you may have already seen the Youtube video where comedian Omid Djalili  has a chat with John and Seena about the book (which I’ve included at the bottom of this post).

I actually just received my very own copy of the book in the mail, and a while back, I had interviewed Oneworld co-founder Juliet Mabey about Oneworld Publications here on Baha’i Blog, so I decided to get in touch with her again to find out more about this wonderful new book . Continue reading