Category Archives Interviews

The Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference in Phoenix, Arizona

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The Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, held in Phoenix, Arizona (USA) around Christmas time each year, is an exciting annual event packed with great talks and workshops for all ages and with an average of 2,500 attendees.

The Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference has been going strong for over 30 years now, and this year’s conference (held from December 23-25) will feature an array of great talks by speakers such as Mr. Fariborz Sahba, architect of the Lotus Temple in India and the terraced gardens surrounding the Shrine of the Bab, Deborah Walters, Justin Baldoni, Sina Mossayeb and many others. There’s also a line-up of talented artists, like KC Porter, JB Eckl, and Eric Dozier, who will be performing.

I’m visiting Phoenix right now, and I was glad to have the opportunity to sit down and chat with Shahin Badiee, who is one of the conference’s organizing committee members, to learn a little about this annual conference.  Continue reading

“The Covenant and You”: John Kolstoe’s New Book

The Covenant and You

John Kolstoe is an American pioneer and writer whose name is found on the spines of many Baha’i Books. He has authored Consultation: A Universal Lamp of Guidance, Healing and Beyond: Exploring the Long Healing Prayer, Crazy Lovers of Baha’u’llah: Inspirational Stories of Little Giants, Pondering the Fire Tablet, Compassionate Woman: The Life and Legacy of Patrician Locke – to name a few! The Covenant and You is his recent George Ronald Publication.

I think the essence of this book, which is the application of the Covenant and how it can be an active part of our lives, is best explained by Billy Roberts in his foreword:

True acts of kindness once completed are seldom mentioned again. But here I choose to make mention and celebrate acts of consequence made quietly over many years by John Kolstoe, which inform his capacity to invite us to draw nearer to the Covenant. Inspired by service, his view of the Covenant allows the topic to take flight from a mere recitation of ideals to a pattern leading to a life filled with joy and purpose. Kolstoe infuses into the language of this book, the spirit of love, fidelity, and longing held within his heart.

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With the Hands of Power: Matthew Levine’s Newest Album

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Matthew Levine is an award winning songwriter and composer who has recently released a new album titled With the Hands of Power. From choral to cabaret pieces, Matthew’s works are rich in their diversity of styles and genres. His other albums include A House Divided, Acquiescence, and A Sacrifice to Thee. Matthew kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his latest soul-stirring work and to give us a bit of context behind its production.

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Listen: An Interview with Ine

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I can’t tell everyone how excited I am to be posting this right now! About six years ago, Ine (pronounced ‘eeeneh’), who’s been like a little sister to me for the longest time, and who was one of the members of the Baha’i-inspired Pacific Island group I spent a good decade working with called MANA, decided to write an album based on the Baha’i Writings.

Originally from the Cook Islands and currently living in Sydney, Australia, Ine is one of those people who’s never really had any formal music training, but she can pick up a guitar, or get behind a keyboard, and start jamming. Her hip-hop producer husband, Navid B, is just the same, and so when the three of us got together to make this album happen, we wanted to make sure that Ine’s talent for catchy melodies was coupled with fat beats that really kick, but in a way that still felt somewhat meditative. Continue reading

Light of the Kingdom: A Book by JoAnn Borovicka

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I love books and have a particular soft-spot for Baha’i books. I was doubly happy when I heard that a friend, JoAnn Borovicka, has published a new book called Light of the Kingdom: Biblical Topics in the Baha’i Writings. I was joyful that a new Baha’i book was made available to the world, and proud of her accomplishment. To write a book is no small feat and this one is the culmination of many years of work.

JoAnn lovingly agreed to share behind-the-scenes details about her beautiful new book.

Baha’i Blog: Thank you, JoAnn! I’m very excited to hear more about Light of the Kingdom. To start, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your work as a writer?

I’m an educator; my passion is making information accessible by delivering it in digestible portions. At the time of the origin of this project I was working as a master trainer for Global Learning Partners, Inc. where I specialized in workshop design and facilitation. I was also a storyteller performer with the South Carolina Artist in Residence program—I wrote my own material based on stories of the ancient Near East. Both of these interests served me in the making of Light of the Kingdom, which strives to systematically present certain Baha’i teachings through the organizational framework of the Bible.

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The Half of it Was Never Told – A New Book by Carolyn Sparey Fox

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Carolyn Sparey Fox is the author of The Half of it Was Never Told, a riveting new publication. The book is set in the 19th century, when many were filled with excitement and expectation that the prophecies in the Bible and the Quran would be fulfilled. Carolyn’s book charts the stories of three men who never met, William Miller, Joseph Wolff and Mulla Husayn, who were all dedicated and devoted to their quest of finding the Promised One. Only one of them found what he was looking for.

Carolyn’s book is a George Ronald publication and it recently hit the shelves. She graciously agreed to tell us a little bit about herself and the process behind the book.

 

Baha’i Blog: Thank you, Carolyn, for your willingness to talk about your book, The Half of it Was Never Told. To begin, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well actually, I’m a professional musician, and in a way I suppose that’s another story!! Briefly, after I studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and toured for two months across the USA and Canada, I worked in London, where I was in the first London production of Jesus Christ Superstar, recorded music for films and backing for pop music, and performed with many of the orchestras, which included loads of touring, including Australia, USA, Europe, and interestingly enough, many countries which were still behind the Iron Curtain at that time. Then I moved to Scotland, where I was principal viola with both the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – but not at the same time, I hasten to add!  That’s the tip of the iceberg as far as my musical career is concerned, but I suppose it gives a flavour.

The One: An Interview with Zinnia

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When I was in Los Angeles recently, I had the pleasure of attending a beautiful evening of music at the home of some friends who invited the wonderful Zinnia to perform. Inspired by the writings of the Baha’i Faith, Zinnia’s powerful voice coupled with thought provoking lyrics and soul-stirring melodies immediately took a hold of everyone in the audience and she had us locked in our seats.

Needless to say, as soon as the performance was over, I immediately went up to her to find out more about her and her beautiful music, and she agreed to do an interview for Baha’i Blog, so here it is: Continue reading

Vahid: A New Baha’i-inspired Creative Journal

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Baha’i inspired literary journals are rare but the creative people behind the fantastic website Nineteenmonths have recently launched Vahid.

Vahid showcases fiction, photography, poetry, creative non-fiction, and other visual pieces: it is both beautiful to look at and wondrous to read. Two issues have already been published (available in print or electronically through Amazon) and a third issue is currently accepting submissions.

I was thrilled when Caitlin Castelaz, the founding editor of Vahid and the writing editor for the website, agreed to tell us about this exciting new publication. Continue reading

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