Category Archives Interviews

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!

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Music with Soul: An Interview with Navid B of Bluebottle Records

Navid Bahmani (AKA Navid B) became a Bahá’í about two years ago, and he recently founded his own record label called Bluebottle Records. I’ve known Navid B for some time now and I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the sidelines of seeing his musical career unfold. Bluebottle has just released their debut album called A New Dawn, so I sat down with Navid B and got him to tell me a little bit about himself and what he’s trying to achieve through his record label:

Baha’i Blog: So tell us a little about yourself and how you got into making music?

I’m from Sydney, Australia and I’m actually a hairdresser by trade, but music has always been my passion. Even though I haven’t been musically trained, a few years back I finally decided to buy a keyboard and to just try and express myself musically, so I started playing around with different tunes and beats and I just started posting it up online. Before I knew it I was contacted by an independent record label in the US asking me to release an album through them. That really gave me the confidence to keep working on my music and I guess I’m still learning a lot and I just try to keep working at it.

Baha’i Blog: So tell us why you started Bluebottle Records and what you hope to achieve with it.

Bluebottle Records aims to create hip-hop, R’n’B and soul music with a conscious twist. I wanted to start a label which would give myself and my friends an avenue to release our music. I wanted to have complete creative control as well as contractual control so our dealings would be fair.

As a label we want to create a movement of consciousness! People of all walks of life today are sucked into materialism, and unfortunately a lot of music often reflects this, so we are trying to put the ‘soul’ back into music! Continue reading

Off-Center: An Interview with Aaron Kreader and Dave Rouleau

I’ve always loved the book by Hand of the Cause, William Sears, called “God Loves Laughter“. Something about the statement has just always seemed so right to me. So, I was delighted to stumble on the work of two talented American Baha’is working together at the Baha’i National Center in the US. Dave Rouleau and Aaron Kreader are – respectively – the creator and artist behind a long-running comic strip called Off-Center.

I caught up with Dave and Aaron to learn a bit more about the comic strip, their inspiration and what advice they have for other aspiring Baha’i artists. And for those of you (like me) who aren’t in the US and don’t receive The American Baha’i magazine, we’ve got a few editions of Off-Center to view embedded here in the post. Continue reading

Blair and Nadim: Baha’i YouTube Sensations

It’s a wonderful, wild, world-wide web out there and nowhere is this more the case than with the social video site YouTube. It was here that – to my delight – I stumbled upon the work of two talented Canadian youth hidden amongst talking cats, dramatic hamsters and a baby monkey riding on a pig. Using YouTube, rap and a music video, these two youth from Ontario, Blair Cameron and Nadim Merrikh, have managed to come up with a quirky and wonderfully catchy way of telling the world about John Esslemont, one of the Baha’i Faith’s most respected scholars.

They decided to put the video together for a Ruhi study circle, but after posting it on YouTube the video has already racked up over six hundred views and counting. I caught up with Nadim to find out more about this bizarrely awesome project that he and Blair have put together. But before we get to the Q&A, here’s their YouTube video. Hit play and find out a little more about Baha’i Hand of the Cause, John Esslemont.

John E. Esslemont Music Video By Blair Cameron and Nadim Merrikh HD

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