Victoria Jane Leith’s album, Make Me to Grow, is subtitled “an immersive experience of melodies, nature and prayers” and that’s exactly what it is. Listening to it transported me to a devotional gathering in a tranquil garden.
You may recognize Victoria from our Studio Sessions “Lion Roar”, “Tiny Seed” and “I Loved Thy Creation”, renditions of which are also included on her sweet album.
I am glad Victoria wanted to share with us about her album. Here’s what she said:
In preparation for the release of his new album in honor of the centenary of the Passing of Abdu’l-Baha, Home of Light, singer-songwriter Luke Slott took viewers on a 19 day journey of storytelling and music during the month of the Baha’i Fast.
Luke’s wonderful recounting of the events and stories of the history of the Baha’i Faith, coupled with his beautiful music, was captured in a series of 20 videos called ‘A Story of Light’. I wanted to connect with my dear friend Luke to find out more about this wonderful initiative and to share it with our readers. Here’s what he had to say: Continue reading
My dear friend Sonbol Taefi has created a new multi-language devotional album called Coral & Pearls. Her voice on its own is rich and her compositions are uplifting, but on this album her music is also adorned by singers from various parts of the globe; the album features Luke Slott, Elika Mahony and Nasime Wattiaux.
With the exception of the title song, the tracks were recorded in New Zealand with acoustic instruments: piano, guitar, santour, percussion and strings ,as well as backing vocals and choral arrangements. The enchanting title song is based on the marriage prayer revealed by Abdu’l-Baha in Persian, and it was developed for a full ensemble piece for recording with the Czech National Symphony.
It’s been many years since we interviewed Sonbol about her album Sea of Mystery (which you can read here), so I was glad for the chance to hear from her again, and to learn more about her latest album. In this interview she tells us how it came together, and offers some words of encouragement to other musicians, or anyone who is beginning to set the Baha’i Writings to music: Continue reading
The music of Elika Mahony holds a special place in my heart and in our family life so we were thrilled when she released a new global collaborative song called “Waves of One Sea”. No matter how often we listen to it, it never fails to rejoice my soul.
We’ve featured Elika on Baha’i Blog before — most recently, I interviewed her about her album The Exalted One in honor of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab. I was curious to learn more about “Waves of One Sea”, and here’s what Elika graciously shared with me: Continue reading
Ali Youssefi creates music that goes straight to the heart. You may be familiar with his collaborative music videos, especially his wonderful song called “Unite”, which includes 50 voices from around the world and which continues to be extremely popular!
Ali was also critical in helping us film Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions in Belgrade, Serbia (where he was living at the time), and from these sessions you can watch him singing “Jedinstvo (Unity)” in Serbian, and “Oh Mi Siervo (O My Servant)” in Spanish.
I was so excited to hear about Ali’s latest global musical collaboration called “Waves”! Featuring over 400 singers and instrumentalists from 38 countries and territories across the globe, “Waves” is a happy celebration of the unified diversity of the human race. Have you watched it? It never fails to make me smile, and I had to get in touch with my dear friend to find out more about his new initiative. Here’s what he shared: Continue reading
One day a young man was composing jazz tunes on a rented piano in his apartment in Boston when the doorbell rang. He opened the door to find himself face-to-face with his blue-eyed neighbour, a classically trained singer who had heard his music through the floor and needed someone to accompany her while she rehearsed. Two years later this singer gave birth to me at home, accompanied by jazz played by my father and the doctor, who was (naturally) also a musician.
Our house was always full of live music and artwork from all over the world. The arts were a way of life. Creating and appreciating art was how we related to each other, and how we built community. So the first time someone asked me what I saw as the purpose of the arts I was thrown off guard. They seem as essential as food and water. There are an endless number of ways that the arts enrich our lives and shape our reality. Here are five that I keep coming back to: Continue reading
Turn My Steps is the debut album of Siria Rutstein, and many of you may remember hearing her voice on two Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions called “Make Them to Grow” and “Immerse”.
Siria is a thoughtful and joyful singer-songwriter currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have to admit that I have a soft spot for her as when she was a child, her family was in Papua New Guinea with me and my family, and I have so many fond memories of the times I spent with her parents. I was delighted when I heard that she had released her debut album, so I got in touch with her to find out more about her music and why it was important for her to create this album. Here’s what she shared:
Cloud9 is a podcast produced by Baha’i Teachings. Its aim is to feature interviews with artists and discuss what inspires them to make a positive contribution to the world. In this episode, Baha’i Teachings’ arts editor Shadi Toloui-Wallace interviews Benn Good or Benny Cassette, who signed to a major record label at the age of 18, has produced music and collaborated with John Legend, Kanye West, Sza, Miguel, Allen Stone, and countless other prominent musicians who dominate the charts today. Continue reading
Bellwood Press has created a series of books for junior youth and young readers called the Change Maker series which tells the true stories of individuals who worked to bring about positive social change. So far the series includes three titles: Robert Sengstacke Abbott: A Man, a Paper, and a Parade; John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie: A Man, a Trumpet, and a Journey to Bebop; and Richard St. Barbe Baker: Child of the Trees.
Susan Engle authored the first two titles, and I wanted to hear more from her about the book about Dizzy Gillespie (you may also remember Susan from when she shared all about her enchanting tiny books). Susan is a delight and I hope you enjoy this conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about who Dizzy Gillespie was?
If you had lived in his neighborhood when he was a child, you might have heard his family and neighbors calling out, using his first two names as is a southern tradition, “John Birks, sit a spell, why don’t you?” He was constantly on the move. When he was in elementary school, he was provided with a trombone for a small school band. From then on, he channeled most of his energy into playing music. Since his arms were too short to play all the notes on trombone, he would often borrow a neighbor’s trumpet, taking turns with Brother Harrington, practicing for hours at a time. As he grew and became better and better, finally leaving South Carolina for Philadelphia and New York City in his teens, he had years of playing and working out sounds and keys for trumpet tunes under his belt.
Trying out for the Freddie Fairfax Band when he was about 18, one of the band members said, “That dizzy little cat’s from down South.” The nickname “Dizzy” stuck. By the time he had helped bring about a new style of jazz called Bebop, performed for more than one President of the United States, traveled around the world for the State Department, and recorded dozens of records, Dizzy was well-known and loved—not only by many of his fellow musicians, but by jazz fans across the U.S. and around the world. He had many official and unofficial titles, including “King of the Trumpet,” “Ambassador of Jazz,” and “Diz the Wiz.” By the end of his life, he had also received many awards including 14 honorary degrees, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys, and the Kennedy Center Honors. He even has a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California.
Dizzy Gillespie (October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993). Photo courtesy of Roland Godefroy, accessed from Wikimedia Commons.
From childhood, John Birks Gillespie—famously nicknamed “Dizzy” in his teens—stood out: in his school, in his family, among his musical colleagues. According to Mrs. Wilson, his third-grade teacher, she would say to him, “John, do you have your lessons?” He would reply, “‘Yeah, I got it, I got it, Mrs. Wilson, I got it.’ And when the time for recitations came, he would know it. How? I don’t know, because he wouldn’t study.” Continue reading