Category Archives Interviews

Whither Shall I Turn: A New Album by Bonnie Lisbeth

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I’m so excited to share with everyone a wonderful new album called ‘Whither Shall I Turn’ by Bonnie Lisbeth.

Bonnie is based in Hertfordshire, UK, and you may have already heard her music in one of Baha’i Blog’s Studio Sessions recorded in London called “O Lord Provide” by Bonnie & Noor.

In this beautiful Baha’i-inspired acoustic album, Bonnie shares with us what she calls a little piece of her life over the last five years in the form of music.

I caught up with Bonnie to find out more about her and her album: Continue reading

The Woman Who Read Too Much: A Book About the Life of Tahirih

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I have long admired the writing style of Bahiyyih Nakhjavani. Her prose is so masterful that I often read a passage or two and then put the book down, the same way you would put down your fork in order to relish a morsel of truly flavourful food. Bahiyyih Nakhjavani is the internationally bestselling author of The Saddlebag – A Fable for Doubters and Seekers, Paper – The Dreams of a Scribe, Four on an Island, When We Grow Up, Response, Asking Questions: A Challenge to Fundamentalism, and most recently, The Woman Who Read Too Much: A Novel which is a work of creative nonfiction about the life of Tahirih

In these early days of the Faith where we explore what it means to be a Baha’i artist, Bahiyyih has inspired me with a vision of literary excellence and I am truly honoured to ask her about her recent publication.

Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! To begin, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, your work as a writer, and about your latest book ‘The Woman Who Read Too Much’? 

I’m a member of an ancient tribe, a venerable race whom some now say is bordering on extinction. There are still many of us around, although like other anthropological groups whose belief system runs counter to that of the majority, we tend to be invisible. High finance ignores us. Politics barely knows of our existence anymore, although at one time it was afraid of us. We are scattered across the five continents and come from different backgrounds, different cultures and generations, but we all share one common faith, one universal cause. We call ourselves Readers.  Continue reading

Arrayanes: Baha’i-inspired Music from Chile

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Born in the light of the upcoming inauguration of the Baha’i Temple in Chile, I’m so excited about sharing a wonderful new musical initiative by a group of three Baha’is in Santiago, Chile who call themselves “Arrayanes”.

Arrayanes is a trio of close friends – Carlos Medina, Felipe Duhart and Eduardo Rioseco – bound together by friendship, laughter, and love of the Baha’i Faith, who set out to share their soundtrack of the vibrant community life developing around the Continental House of Worship for South America soon to be completed. The result is the creation of an album full of uplifting Latin American melodies and rhythms in pop-folk style, coupled with a compelling spiritual message.

I decided to get in touch with the three friends who have been playing together since 2011, to find out more about this wonderful initiative, and here’s what Eduardo had to say on behalf of the group: Continue reading

Deliver Me: A New Album by Tara Ellis

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I’m so excited to share with everyone a new album by the ever-so-wonderful Tara Ellis called Deliver Me.

Living in Los Angeles, Tara began her musical career as a recording session musician with credits including Black Eye Peas, Common, Eve, and others. While under contract with Sound and Color records, she also released her own commercial album called Proper Lady, along with several EP’s, but for me personally, her best work by far is the contribution she’s made to the world of Baha’i-inspired music.

The first time I had anything to do with Tara Ellis was over 10 years ago when I was working on The Dawnbreaker Collective album with close friend and producer Benny Cassette. When I heard Tara sing the song called ‘Anis’, a song dedicated to a follower of the Bab named ‘Anis’ who was executed with the Bab. I was so deeply moved by the song that even to this day, I find it very difficult to listen to the song because it still has such a profound emotional effect on me.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Tara in LA just before she started recording her new album Deliver Me, and so now that the album is out, I decided to talk to her about it and find out more: Continue reading

The Discovery Series: Books for Junior Youth

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The period of junior youth is one of transition and discovery. No longer children and not yet youth, those in this age group are searching for their identity and yearning for a sense of purpose. The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program material plays a vital role in assisting these adolescents as they develop a concept of service and discover their place in society. According to the Universal House of Justice, these books “…assist junior youth to navigate through a crucial stage of their lives and to become empowered to direct their energies toward the advancement of civilization.”

The Discovery series of books, written by Scottish author Jacqueline Mehrabi, acts as the perfect complement to the Junior Youth material. The trilogy has been developed to prepare junior youth for the spiritual obligations that come with reaffirming their Faith in Baha’u’llah – using storytelling to familiarise the readers with certain laws and ordinances including fasting and obligatory prayer. We spoke to Jackie about her latest works and what she hopes the books achieve. Continue reading

Let’s Pray: A New Album by Gary Sterling

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If you have the opportunity to attend one of the Sunday morning programs at the Baha’i House of Worship in Sydney, Australia, you may have the fortune of hearing the thundering and captivating voice of Gary Sterling singing a solo part in the choir, giving you goosebumps from head-to-toe.

Born in Savannah, Georgia, USA, Gary Sterling grew up on traditional gospel music, where he started singing in a Baptist Church at the age of ten. His whole family are singers, but he is the only one who ventured into the field of the performing arts, and he says that although he grew up poor in the material world, spiritually he was privileged to be nurtured in the love of God, and Gary talks with a great deal of love and affection for the spiritual lessons his dear Baptist mother taught him.

Now a Baha’i and living in Sydney, Australia, Gary describes his music as inspirational gospel-style music for the nourishment of the human soul. Continue reading

Screenprinting for Social Change – The Artistic Works of Melanie King Dollie

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Melanie King Dollie is a California–born creative with a background in printmaking and cultural anthropology. Having lived and worked in China, Israel, Latin America, and currently living in Sydney, Australia, she’s passionate about the exploration and use of the arts in helping with social change, so it’s no wonder that Melanie and I hit it off straight away when we fist met recently in Sydney.

Melanie agreed to be interview by Baha’i Blog about her art and the ideas behind her work: Continue reading

The Dawning Place: A Book by Bruce Whitmore

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Every single one of the world’s seven (soon to be eight) Baha’i Houses of Worship is unique – unique in history, in design and in surroundings. But the one thing they all share in common is that they are The Dawning Places of the Mention of God.

I have always wanted to visit the Wilmette Temple. I don’t think photos can do justice to its utmost majesty, its intricate ornamentation, and the feeling of awe one must feel when standing in its presence.

American author Bruce Whitmore’s work The Dawning Place explores the very wonders of this House of Worship, providing a chronological account of events from before the Temple’s construction through to the present day. We spoke to Bruce to find out about him and his book, which is now in its second edition. Continue reading

Blessed: The Music of Klare Kuolga

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Born in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea and raised by adopted parents in Australia, Klare Kuolga was blessed with having the privilege of belonging to two distinct cultures, both of which music played an important role.

Klare is an old friend of mine, and I just found out that she’s just released a new EP called “Blessed”, so I decided to catch up with her and interview her on Baha’i Blog: Continue reading

Immerse: An Interview with Bahareh Khademi

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Born to Persian parents, and brought up in Australia, Bahareh Khademi feels fortunate to have been raised in Australia, not taking for granted the freedoms that wouldn’t be available to her in her parents’ homeland – among them, the right to free speech and to education.

Bahareh first discovered her passion for music at the age of 16 when she auditioned for the school musical ‘Les Miserables’. Singing in the chorus, she fell in love with the songs and, more significantly, with the potential that music has to ignite the heart of others.

Bahareh has just released her debut album called “Immerse” — its title being inspired by the Writings of Baha’u’llah:

Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.

I recently had the pleasure of attending her album launch in Sydney, Australia, and rather than it simply being a performance, the atmosphere of the evening was more like a beautiful devotional gathering, and the audience was swept away by her angelic voice and musical grace.

I decided to catch up with Bahareh about her musical endeavours and her debut album: Continue reading