Category Archives Interviews

Esto es Fe: A New Album by Leonor Dely & Millero Congo

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Esto es Fe (which is Spanish for “This is Faith”) is the new album from Leonor Dely & Millero Congo, a Baha’i-inspired group coming from the musically rich South American nation of Colombia.

You may have heard the music of Leonor Dely & Millero Congo in the Frontiers of Learning video in the segment about Colombia, and Esto es Fe is Leonor Dely & Millero Congo’s fifth album, which takes the listener on a spiritual journey that combines drums, vocals, native flutes and harmonies releasing the sounds of Colombia’s rich Afro-Latin heritage. The album is a continuation of four previous albums: Amame, Talisman, Ora Tambo, and Makerule – all produced by Grammy-award winning KC Porter.

I decided to catch up with Leonor Dely to find out more about her and the band, and about this wonderful new album: Continue reading

Leaves of Wisdom: A Baha’i Colouring Resource for Children

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Monika Mackenzie is the artist behind the newly released Leaves of Wisdom: A Baha’i Colouring Resource for Children (Volume 1), which contains over 100 illustrations. She’s also the illustrator behind the Facebook page Bahai Colouring Pages, where you are warmly encouraged to save, share and print what’s posted. Her work includes beautifully illustrated quotations from the Writings, or phrases like “Happy Naw Ruz”, and is a wonderful resource for parents, children’s class teachers or for programs for little ones during Holy Day celebrations, Feasts or other gatherings. Leaves of Wisdom was launched on Ridvan and I was delighted when Monika agreed to tell us a little bit about herself, her unique artwork, and her desire to share it with everyone. Continue reading

The Second City: An Interview with Shameem

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Over 12 years ago while visiting Perth, Australia, I met an amazing young Baha’i who was singing her heart out at the Baha’i Centre of Learning there. Her name was Shameem, and even though she was only in high school at the time, it was immediately clear that this enthusiastic and talented young singer, songwriter and musician was really going places with her music!

Now on her third album, and with a bunch of awards under her belt, Shameem continues to bless the stage and the airwaves with her wonderful soulful sound.

I recently caught up with Shameem again to find out more about her and her music: Continue reading

Shoghi Effendi: Through the Pilgrim’s Eye – A New Book by Earl Redman

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Earl Redman is the author of an exciting volume about the Guardian that is fresh off the press called Shoghi Effendi: Through the Pilgrim’s Eye. You may already be familiar with his work; in celebration of the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to the West, Earl Redman gathered together all the historical accounts of the Master’s travels and put them into chronological order in Abdu’l-Baha in Their Midst. When I contacted Earl about a possible interview, we discovered we had a mutual friend — my grandma and writer, Claire Vreeland. She compiled a book of pioneer stories (entitled And the Trees Clapped Their Hands) in which both of our families’ pioneering accounts are included. Linked through stories, I was keen to ask Earl about his creative process and the legwork behind his fascinating new book.

Baha’i Blog: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Earl. To begin, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work as a writer?

In 1977, I fell off a mountain. Or rather was invited to fall off the mountain when a friend I was roped to was blown down a steep, icy face on Mt Foraker in Alaska. We fell about a thousand feet and, during the fall, I left my body. The body was on its way to death, but I didn’t care. When I finally stopped the fall, I had two powerful emotions. First, while the body and the soul were separate, I was absolutely disgusted because I was back in, at that time, a rather battered body. That was followed, after the soul rejoined the body, by a feeling of absolute delight that I was still alive.

Knowing that the body and the soul were separate, I was prepared to listen when I met a Baha’i named Sharon. She talked of the Faith and, on the day we were married in 1980, I became a Baha’i. Since then, we pioneered in Chile for six years and have now been pioneering in Ireland for sixteen years.

I have always like to write, though I never expected to write a book. Some of my early stories somehow ended up in a book called And the Trees Clapped Their Hands. I also contributed to the Alaska Baha’i News. Professionally as a geologist, I wrote many reports and my first published book was about the history of the mines and miners in Southeast Alaska, based on many old newspaper stories. I never set out to write books on Baha’i history. They all just sort of appeared on my computer screen, quite to my surprise.

Continue reading

Portraits in Faith – Video Interviews About Faith from Around the World

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I wanted to share with everyone a wonderful initiative a couple of my friends told me about. It’s called Portraits in Faith, and it’s a series of video interviews and portrait photographs aimed at taking a look into the lives of people of faith around the world.

Created by Daniel Epstein, a Marketing Director who was born and raised a Jew, Portraits in Faith was carried out as a sort of spiritual exercise where Daniel would keep his own faith alive by gaining from the experience of others – regardless of their religion or beliefs. By interviewing and documenting their spiritual experiences and the role of faith in their own personal lives and told in their own words, now, nine years, 27 countries and 400 spiritual journeys later, Portraits in Faith delivers a new Portrait each week.

I decided to get in touch with Daniel Epstein to ask him more about this wonderful initiative: Continue reading

Reach Out: A New Album by Karim Rushdy

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Best known for being one half of the Baha’i hip-hop and RnB duo Nabil & Karim, Canadian-based rapper and producer Karim Rushdy has released a new solo album containing 14 tracks that are sure to get you talking about positive change in the world!

Karim introduces his new album by saying:

It is inevitable that life will throw challenges our way. what’s important is how we chose to deal with our struggle – whatever that may be. I believe that we are all noble beings with infinite potential, we just get bogged down by so many distractions that it sometimes feels impossible to change. This album attempts to capture those trans-formative moments where hopelessness becomes courage, and a pebble becomes a pearl. My hope is that by listening to this, you will be reminded of what you struggle with, yet be inspired by the greatness that you inherently possess to rise above whatever situation you’re in and Reach Out to help someone else in need.

I decided to catch up with Karim and ask him a few more questions about his new album Reach Out: Continue reading

Music with Zest – An Interview with Lemon Soul Trio

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As the Faith grows and develops, the artistic expression of its followers blossoms and grows. Recorded devotional music in French are rare gems so I was ecstatic when I learned about Lemon Soul Trio, a band whose motto is “un antidote contre le blues” (which roughly translates as “an antidote for the blues”) – a clever turn of phrase considering their jazzy, bluesy, world-music style.

Their first album, which bears their band’s name, was released in October 2014. It contains 9 tracks – a propitious number! While the majority of their lyrics are in French, their music is global in its appeal. The group is composed of three very talented musicians: Margaret Harmer, a percussionist; Nicolas Leroy, a guitarist; and Yasmin Farhoumand, a vocalist.

I was eager to find out more and Yasmin agreed to share some behind-the-tunes information on behalf of the band about their exciting work. Continue reading

Happy Heart Kid: Character-building Activity Kits for Kids

Empathy Activity Kit. Photo courtesy of Happy Heart Kid

Empathy Activity Kit. Photo courtesy of Happy Heart Kid

I get really excited when I find out about products for children that aim to assist with their moral and spiritual development. I am so grateful to live in this age of instant communication so I can ask other Baha’i mothers questions about the materials and tools they have created and use in their daily lives but there are so few resources out there that are already thoughtfully assembled and ready to go. So you can imagine my joy in discovering Happy Heart Kid, a company that makes character building activity kits for little ones! I was eager to find out all about it and Archana Jiwnani, the woman behind Happy Heart Kid, was happy to oblige. Continue reading

Music of the Heart: An Interview with Michelle Koay

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It always puts a smile on my face when I find out about individuals from different parts of the world who take the initiative to put the Sacred Writings of the Baha’i Faith to music, and share it with others.

So it gives me great pleasure to share Music of the Heart, the fourth and latest album by Singaporean Baha’i Michelle Koay. All of the ten songs on Michelle’s album consist of the Chinese translations of Baha’i prayers by The Bab, Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha put to music, and the album also includes the karaoke versions of the prayers too.

I decided to catch up with Michelle to find out more about her and this wonderful musical initiative: Continue reading

Townshend International School – A Baha’i-inspired School for Everyone

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“Imagine a school where your teachers are your friends and mentors, looking for the best within you, and helping you see strengths within yourself that you may not have known were there…where helping you develop your character is as important as helping you develop your mind…where helping you be the best person you can be is as important to helping you be the smartest person you can be…a school that sees you essentially as a spiritual being, and nurtures the life of the spirit…”

That school exists, and it’s called Townshend International School.

Townshend International is a Baha’i-inspired school located in a town called Hluboka nad Vltavou in the south of the Czech Republic. It’s about a two hour train ride from the nation’s capital, Prague, and its students come from all over the world to attend. I’ve visited the school and I know many people who have studied there, and I have to say that everyone I know who’s attended Townshend International School can’t say enough good things about it, and how the school had a profound effect on both their spiritual and academic growth.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Vivek Williams, the School Director of Townshend, and I thought it would be great to ask him a few questions to find out more about this wonderful Baha’i-school and to share it with everyone: Continue reading