About a year ago while surfing the web for Baha’i related content, I came across an awesome Baha’i musician on gofundme.com.
Her name was MJ Cyr, and she was trying to raise money to record and launch her first full-length album which was based on the Baha’i Writings. What really got my attention at first was the video she posted up on the site (and which I’ve also included at the bottom of this post). It was a simple video of her standing in front of a mic with a guitar strapped over her shoulder, and as the song developed, she just kept adding layer-upon-layer of music and vocals until the song really came to life! Continue reading
Karim left, and Nabil to the right. (Image courtesy: Matts Vai)
What happens when two good friends living in Canada decide to get together and collaborate on creating music which brings the Baha’i Writings to life in a fresh and contemporary way? The answer is simple: Nabil & Karim.
The smooth grooves of music duo Nabil & Karim were born when Nabil (a Persian-Canadian Baha’i who was raised in Portugal), and Karim (an Egyptian-Irishman born in Haiti and raised in India and Canada) were studying audio production in Canada together, and with the encouragement of their local Baha’i community, they started working on putting the Sacred Writings to music for community events.
I’ve got both of their albums, and I know tons of Baha’is around the world who love their music too, so I was super-excited to be able to catch up with Karim and ask him a few questions about himself and the duo!
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves and how you guys got together?
We met in college, it was a rainy day, the sun had just fallen behind the horizon… but seriously we studied audio production at Metal Works Institute in Mississauga. The Baha’i community at Mississauga strongly encouraged us to perform at Holy Day events and that was a big reason why we started making songs together. We both come from pioneering families, Nabil’s family pioneered to Portugal and mine to Haiti and India. Nabil plays guitar and sings and I rap and beatbox. Nabil is health conscious and fit and I am the opposite of that. But we both try our best to be spiritually fit. We have very different tastes in music but when we come together… Continue reading
A few weeks ago while attending a community event, a beautiful song in French start playing over the speakers during the devotional portion of the gathering. I had had to know who the singer was and where I could find the song.
It turns out the the song was by Delia Olam, a Baha’i who lives in Adelaide, Australia and she’s someone whom I had met several years ago at a conference. As someone quite involved with music and the arts, it makes me sad to think that there are so many great Baha’i inspired songs and other initiatives happening around the world that unfortunately go unheard to the vast majority of friends. One of the main aims of Baha’i Blog and our Resource Directory is to make sure that these wonderful initiatives are shared with others, and Delia Olam’s album HELLO … i Like You is one of those gems which has been hidden away from most of us for some time now.
I immediately caught up with Delia to find out more about her album, and she’s also allowed us to stream the song I heard at the devotional. The song is called O Ami, and it’s the Hidden Word “O Friend! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love…” in French. You can play the song at the bottom of this post. Continue reading
The mystical and soul-stirring music of the Canadian duo Smith & Dragoman can be felt in all three of the groups albums, originally inspired by The Dawbreakers, and are each based on a certain chapter of the history of the Baha’i Faith.
Their debut album Open The Gates, is based on the heroes and heroins of the Babí dispensation, and their follow-up album Under The Lote-Tree, continues the saga of the those early Babí’s who became followers of Baha’u’llah. Continue reading
Which Baha’i musician has millions of fans and concerts that pack out stadiums? Khalil Fong – that’s who! “Who?” you ask? Well, to many of the English speaking world, the name Khalil Fong may not ring a bell, but to the Mandarin speaking world in China, Singapore and Taiwan, Hong Kong based pop-star Khalil Fong has been playing to packed-out stadiums and he continues to pump out the hits!
Besides having over six million followers on Weibo (the Chinese Twitter), six albums under his belt, and approximately 180 music awards, Khalil has also been praised by the media for his upright character and for being such a positive role model for young people.
I was first introduced to Khalil Fong’s music several years ago when a close friend of mine had given me Khalil Fong’s first album Soulboy, and even though I don’t speak Mandarin, as soon as I pressed “Play”, I was humming and snapping my fingers to the beat.
When I was in Hong Kong a short time ago, there were posters of Khalil everywhere – and I mean EVERYWHERE! I walked into a HMV music store and there was an entire display at the entrance dedicated to his latest album titled “15”, and when I took the CD over to the counter, the guy at the register nodded approvingly of my choice and said “Good album, good album!”.
I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Khalil Fong, and I was really impressed by his humility and the dedication and professionalism with which he approached his musical career. It was also very obvious that being a pop-star was exhausting work, with a hectic schedule and the pressures of always being in the spotlight, so I was really pleased that he was able to squeeze in an interview for Baha’i Blog. Continue reading
As the war in the east of Congo worsened in 2008, Pembe Lero decided to show the world that his country was about more than just poverty and bloodshed, by forming Shimama.
Using a model based partly on the success of Mana, a Pacific Island Baha’i music group, Shimama is a musical group that aims to put Baha’i-inspired Congolese music on the world map.
Strive is the debut album from two 12-year-old brothers from New Zealand, Michael and Anthony Zemke, who got together with singer and producer Sonbol to record an album for young listeners and to help raise money for the Chilean Baha’i Temple Fund.
I decided to catch up with Michael and Anthony to hear what they had to say about this exciting initiative.
For the past decade I’ve had the pleasure of working with the music group MANA, who’ve recently finished recording their fifth album. Many of my friends and the Bahá’ís I’ve met while travelling have asked about MANA and why this project in particular is so important to me.
Well, before I answer that and start going on and on about MANA (which, trust me, I can do for hours), for those of you who haven’t heard of them, here’s a quick introduction.
MANA, which means “inner power” or “strength of spirit” in many of the Polynesian languages, is a musical and cultural performance group made up of young Pacific Island Bahá’ís who are mainly based in Sydney, Australia. MANA’s albums are all based on the passages from the Writings which are studied in the sequence of Ruhi books. Although these albums are predominantly in English, most of their songs are infused with the languages, chants and rhythms of the Pacific Islands. The group has released four albums so far – one album for each of the first four books of the Ruhi sequence – and is currently preparing their fifth album (based on Book 6 of the Ruhi sequence of books) for release.
MANA’s albums have been incredibly well-received around the world, but the MANA project (as we like to call it) is far more than being just about making music and selling CDs. Personally, I have always found MANA to be such a powerful and incredibly inspiring initiative because of the way it exemplifies many of the concepts and ideas discussed by the Universal House of Justice in relation to the Institute Process and the various Plans. To me, MANA represents many of the aspects of the new and exciting culture taking shape in the Bahá’í community. Continue reading
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