There are some people whom, when you cross their path, you can immediately tell that they’re passionate about everything they do. Whether it be their work, their faith, their service, their family or their art, they pursue it to their utmost, and Sonbol is one of those people.
Sonbol is a New Zealand based singer and songwriter, and in fact her husband played a big role in my family’s life, as it was him who told my parents about the needs in Papua New Guinea, which then resulted in my family moving to Papua New Guinea and living there for 20 years, so I’ve always been profoundly grateful to them for this.
I first heard Sonbol perform about 20 years ago while I was studying in New Zealand, and our paths have continued to cross in different parts of the world over the years. She’s produced several albums, and the last time I saw her, we were both passing through the US about a year ago, when she was on her way to Prague with Tom Price to record her new album with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.
Sonbol has now finished that album titled Sea of Mystery, and so I decided it was time to catch up with Sonbol to find out more about her, her music, and her new album. Continue reading
After leaving his home in New Zealand and performing and touring around Australia for a couple of years, Tom Francis found himself arriving in the Australian coastal town of Byron Bay with a car load of instruments and a head full of new songs. After spending six days in a studio with a jazz drummer and an Aria nominated producer, Tom’s second album From Up There was born.
Tom’s new album of Indie and Soul songs were recorded live in the studio, and it really captures the warmth of his voice fused with the simplistic, yet rich sounds of guitar, vintage keyboard work, and smooth drumming which lend themselves well to the emotionally deep and thought provoking journey the album takes you on. Tom’s cover of Doug Cameron’s 1985 hit Mona with the Children, which is based on the true story of a Baha’i girl named Mona Mahmudnizhad who was hanged in 1983 at the age of 16 because she was a Baha’i, and also his song titled This Is Where I Stand, which was inspired by a poem by Mahvash Sabet and is dedicated to her and the many other Baha’is who are currently imprisoned in Iran, are definitely worth mentioning.
I’ve known Tom for a while now and I’ve always been a big fan of his music, so I decided to catch up with him to ask him a few questions about his musical journey and his new album: Continue reading
While Max Weigert was volunteering at the Baha’i World Centre, he realized that there was so much talent amongst his fellow volunteers, that he thought it was a shame not to share it with the rest of the world. So he got together with a group of artists who wanted to put together a collaborative album of Baha’i prayers, Baha’i inspired music and Baha’i inspired poetry, and the result is Arising to Serve!
Arising to Serve is a seven track compilation album of Baha’i music and poetry that Max and his friends (including Andrea Hope, who we interviewed here on Baha’i Blog as well) put together. They not only want to showcase their art, but they want everyone to be able to use it as an inspiration and as a resource for your devotional gatherings, events and other activities. Best of all, it’s completely free!
I decided to catch up with Max to ask him a few questions about this wonderful service that he and his fellow artists put together. Continue reading
Many of you may have already heard the music of The Badasht Project, (or more commonly known as Badasht). Their debut album While The City Sleeps and thier second album release Raise Me Up have been hugely popluar in the world-wide Baha’i community, and now The Badasht Project returns with a new album called Visonaries, which is a 2-CD set of 21 songs dedicated to the youth, featuring an ever-greater circle of collaborators spanning every genre from electronica to bluegrass to hip-hop. The new album features young artists, some already well along their path, others recorded for the first time, creating music ranging from the purely devotional, using passages from the Baha’i Writings to the personal and introspective, in the inspired language of the heart.
The Badasht Project is spearheaded by musicians JB Eckl and Eric Dozier, and it’s expanded into a collective benefiting from many voices and perspectives. The project was originally conceived as a response to the Baha’i Writings regarding the true purpose and station of the arts and by combining the talents and experience of artists, producers, scholars and entrepreneurs, and the project aims to bring to bear the full power of the arts towards the fostering of a more dynamic, spiritual and vibrant community.
It’s been over two years that I’ve wanted to do an interview with JB Eckl and Eric Dozier about The Badasht Project, and so now, three albums later, I was finally able to catch up with JB Eckl to find out more about this wonderful initiative and their latest album. Continue reading
The situation for the Baha’is in Iran took a turn for the worse after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, and as the Baha’is in Iran continue to face persecution, many Baha’is around the world continue to work towards ensuring their freedom through peaceful diplomacy, various awareness campaigns, and of course through the power of prayer.
This ongoing persecution is the driving force behind the music of Badi Yazdi, and in his new album entitled Yaran, Badi shares with us a selection of seven prayers chanted in Persian and underscored by Eric Harper. Each prayer is dedicated to the seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders in Iran, who collectively are known as ‘The Yaran’.
I decided to catch up with Badi Yazdi to find out more about the album and the initiative as a whole: Continue reading
Here at Baha’i Blog we’re huge fans of Baha’i related media content, and one of the things we really want to do is to help Baha’is discover all of the wonderful new Baha’i media-related initiatives happening around the world. Now it’s one thing to discover new Baha’i musicians, albums, videos and the like, but getting your hands on their products can often be difficult… so welcome 9 Star Media!
9StarMedia.com showcases the best in Baha’i inspired music, audio books and film, and they’ve created a single outlet to discover, preview, and purchase the best the Baha’i community has to offer. Think “iTunes for Baha’i Media”, but they go even one step further by offering physical media sales (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) as well as wholesale sales to Baha’i bookstores, communities, and distribution services around the world.
9 Star Media was started by a couple of good friends of mine named Jon and Auntieclare Rezin. They live in California and Jon works in the music business. I decided to touch base with them to find out more about 9 Star Media and what it’s all about. Oh, and they’re also giving Baha’i Blog readers a nice discount (shown at the bottom of the post), so read on! Continue reading
It’s always great to hear about new musical initiatives from around the Baha’i world, and The Style is to be Changed is the debut album from BASS Adjustment, a musical initiative put together by Austrian musician, songwriter, composer and producer Raha Poostchi.
Raha first began the project back in 2006, and now seven years later, after collaborating with artists from all over the world including Hawaii, Nigeria, Australia, Italy, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, the album was finally released this year.
The diversity of musicians working on the album has helped shape the diverse musical styles found on the album, which range from House to Pop, RnB and Smooth Jazz with influences from Oriental, Latin and African based music.
I decided to catch-up with Raha to find out more about BASS Adjustment and the debut album The Style is to be Changed.
Baha’i Blog: Hi Raha! First of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical background?
Well, I kind of grew up with my parents being part of the Austrian Dawn Breakers and I was touring with them when I was only a baby. So I guess you could say that I got the love for music through my mothers milk. As far as I can remember I started composing my own music at the age of 8 and have been doing so since then.
I’m super happy to announce the release of MANA’s latest album Teaching the Cause, which is based on the passages found in the sixth book of the Ruhi sequence of books.
MANA is a Baha’i inspired music and cultural performance group made up of young Pacific Islanders (mainly based in Australia), and over the last 10 years they’ve been putting the passages found in the Ruhi sequence of books to music.
Teaching the Cause is MANA’s fifth album, and their catchy tunes make the memorization of the passages easy and fun. As with all of MANA’s albums, the songs are predominantly in English, but they’re infused with various Pacific Island languages, rhythms and chants, something MANA has become well known for.
Over the last 10 years I’ve had the privilege of being heavily involved with the group, and sadly, this will be MANA’s last album, as the members of MANA are busy with other Baha’i initiatives and the group has spread out even more geographically, making it logistically more and more difficult to work on an album. Continue reading
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
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