Category Archives Interviews

From Up There: An Interview with Tom Francis

Tom FrancisAfter 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

Clean Cut, Clean Start – How Nasir is Helping the Homeless

Clean cut clean start 2 - nasir sobhaniZipping through the streets of Melbourne, Australia on his skateboard, Nasir is on the lookout for Melbourne’s less fortunate and homeless population, many of whom are living on the streets. Every Monday Nasir hits the streets seeking out those who are dealing with difficult times by offering them a free haircut.

Nasir’s a barber and a Baha’i, and so he’s passionate about two things: cutting hair and serving others. He calls his initiative ‘clean cut, clean start’, and he knows first hand about what it’s like to need a clean start in life because he went through his own battle with drug addiction in his early 20’s in Canada where he was raised.

Nasir’s like a little brother to me, so you can imagine how excited I was when I caught up with him again in Melbourne and found out about his wonderful service to others. He agreed to let me ask him a few questions about it all and to share it on Baha’i Blog. His service has also been getting a lot of media attention in Australia recently, so I’ve also included a cool video made about his ‘Clean cut, clean start’ initiative below: Continue reading

Infinite Bounty: An Interview with Elika Mahony

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Vocalist, composer, pianist, and artist, Elika Mahony has been busy! Elika loves to design and create beautiful things that bring joy to people and enhance their spiritual experience, so somewhere in between raising a family and all of her artistic projects which include things like making prayer beads from Chinese water pearls, silk prayer book covers and hand made specialty cards using her original pieces of art, as well as exquisite Japanese paper and quotations from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, she’s managed to produce seven albums!

I recently had the privilege of visiting the Baha’i Temple in Frankfurt, Germany, and while I was at the bookshop in the Visitors Centre, I saw an array of Elika’s albums displayed on the shelves and I thought to myself “I wish Elika would release a new album so I could do an interview with her about it and her music”. About an hour later when I arrived at my friends place, there was an email from Elika waiting for me about her new album Infinite Bounty… woah… Continue reading

Unveiled: An Interview with Wiley Rinaldi

Wiley Rinaldi 864x576Unveiled is a new collaborative album by singer and songwriter Wiley Rinaldi in collaboration with his son Daniel and other musicians from around the world, where they share a handful of treasured songs, written from the 1960s to 2013, but never before recorded.

Wiley Rinaldi was behind some of the songs used in Book 3 of the Ruhi sequence of courses, and in this album, Wiley searches for truth through his music, asks important questions, seeks hope and faith, evokes nostalgia, and quotes spiritual verses.

I decided to catch up with Wiley to find out more about him and the album: Continue reading

Arising To Serve: An Interview with Max Weigert

MAX WEIGERT 371x557While 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

Persian Calligraphy with a Twist: The Works of Reza Mostmand

Reza Mostmand 864x575Reza Mostmand has been practicing and developing the art of Persian Calligraphy since he was a young student in Shiraz, Iran.

Years later while volunteering at the Baha’i World Centre in Israel as a Digital Imaging Restoration Specialist, he had the unique opportunity of being exposed to marvellous works of early masters of Persian calligraphy. This exposure to those historic pieces along with the teachings of the Baha’i Faith are his continuous source of inspiration and motivation.

Now based in Toronto, Canada, Reza works as a senior designer at 19gale, a design, web and multi-media agency which he co-founded over 3 years ago. But that hasn’t stopped Reza from putting ink to paper and continuing the tradition of Persian calligraphy while adding his own unique spin to the art form. His work has been featured in local exhibitions and conferences, and he offers calligraphy workshops for youth and adults where they explore the history of calligraphy through drama, and are taught the basic rules followed by hands-on practice.

I’ve been following Reza’s artwork for quite some time now, and I was finally able to corner him and ask him some questions about his wonderful art: Continue reading

EBBF: Ethical Business Building the Future – An Interview with Daniel Truran

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In 1990 a group of Baha’is active in business and management met up in Chamonix, France, to discuss their concerns about the decline of ethics and values in the business world. The result of this meeting was the creation of the ‘European Baha’i Business Forum’ [EBBF], a non-profit association aimed at promoting the moral and spiritual wisdom and principles found in the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and the great religious traditions of the world, such as the principles of justice, respect, trustworthiness, integrity and unity.

From its beginning, EBBF members have attached importance to sharing their broad experience, and now 25 years on, it has evolved into a global learning community of mindful people with members in over 50 countries, and now ‘EBBF’ stands for ‘Ethical Business Building the Future’. The organization continues to accompany individuals by connecting them to new ideas, tools and other individuals around the world who are exploring and learning, through action, how to contribute to a more prosperous, just and sustainable civilization through their daily work.

This year I’m super excited about the fact that I’ll be attending the annual EBBF conference being held between the 2nd and 5th of October in Barcelona, Spain, and so I decided to catch up with EBBF Director General Daniel Truran to find out more about this wonderful initiative: Continue reading

The Power of a Community Garden

In a town called Ranson in West Virginia of the United States, the Baha’i community has teamed up with Jefferson County Community Ministries and the City to create a community garden in order to make healthy food affordable for those on limited budgets, and to also strengthen the social fabric of the community.

The short video above explains this wonderful grassroots initiative, and I recently had the pleasure of meeting Bill Gregg while I was visiting the United States. Bill is one of the main participants in this initiative and he’s featured in the video – so I asked Bill a few questions about the community garden and the effects it’s been having: Continue reading

Dreams of Destiny in the Babi and Baha’i Faiths – An Interview with Dr. Amir Badiei

dreams of destiny 375x563Dreams of Destiny in the Babi and Baha’i Faith is a beautiful new book written by Dr. Amir Badiei and published by the US Baha’i Publishing Trust. It charts the history of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths by examining, in chronological order, over 100 dreams and it highlights the influences of each dream on the dreamer and on their respective time period. Abdu’l-Baha often cites dreams as proof of the existence of the soul and this book highlights the deeply personal and spiritual lives of many historical figures of the Faith.

What I love about Dr. Amir Badiei’s work is that he methodically takes the Writings and historical records and examines them from a completely different perspective, such as dreams or stories. You may have already read Dr. Amir Badiei’s work: Stories Told by Abdu’l-Baha is a compilation that was published in 2003. While there are many historical accounts of the Master, particularly during His travels to the West, this book focuses purely on the stories He told.

I was excited to hear about Dr. Badiei’s newest Baha’i publication and was thrilled when he agreed to be interviewed for Baha’i Blog. Continue reading

The New Era: An Interview with Walied Jassat

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I absolutely love discovering new Baha’i-inspired music from different parts of the world, and I was thrilled to hear about a new album from South Africa called The New Era, produced by Walied Jassat – also known as ‘WaJa’ – who’s based in Johannesburg.

The New Era is a collaborative album featuring different musicians and singers who have been working with Walied Jassat over the last few years and all songs are either based on the Baha’i Writings or are Baha’i-inspired.

I caught up with Walied to find out more about this wonderful new album and initiative: Continue reading