I ended my San Diego Tour in Carlsbad at a stunning club house. My tour would not have been possible if it wasn't for my dear friend Sam Delchad, who on his own volition, saw the power of music and was determined to bring it to his community. If it wasn't for individuals such as Sam, I wouldn't be able to do what I do, so I am eternally grateful to him. We met briefly in passing at the conference in Santiago, Chile, and he promised that he would bring me to San Diego, and he did. What a memorable trip it was. Here are some photos from the concert in Carlsbad.
This was a very special night. My parents and I had the bounty of visiting a neighbourhood in Vista, San Diego, a predominantly hispanic speaking population with the most vibrant atmosphere. There was so much life in the room filled with children, junior youth and their families, all engaged in building better communities. I really grew to admire the friends serving in this community for the love, dedication and enthusiasm they have for the friends they are serving along side. This community hosts 2 Childrens Classes, 4 Junior Youth Groups, Sewing classes, English Classes and even a Soccer team! This event was hosted by two Junior Youth groups, and their families, who put on a delicious Mexican Feast followed by music and conversation. Thank you to all who contributed to what was truly a memorable night!
I was so busy I only got a couple photos, so here they are!
I met with some youth serving in the neighbourhood of Mira Mesa and near by surrounds, to share some of my music and my experiences as a Baha'i inspired musician. It was a wonderful night filled with music and discussion. We talked about the role of music in community building, and the ways in which our communities can directly support artists, so that there can be more of them using their unique abilities to further serve the community. It was insightful to learn of some of their experiences with arts based initiatives, and I was excited to share stories and reflections of my own experiences through South America and how I witnessed the friends use the arts to influence positive change in rural and urban communities. Was just really great to open up a space to have an elevated discussion surrounding the arts and I'm so grateful to the youth for opening their home and hearts, and for sharing some of their beautiful melodic anthems with me <3
When I travel I'm always trying to find ways to raise capacity and distribute what I've learnt in my short trips to communities around the world. We all have so much to learn from one another, and I find that many friends want to learn how they too can contribute to building more musical communities. I'm really trying to learn how my work can be sustained in my absence, months/years after I visit a community. So I've developed these short 2-3 hour workshops that reflect on the importance of the Arts and putting the Sacred Writings to music, qualities the music should possess when partnered with the Sacred Texts, and developing our own capacities as musicians to set original melodies to the Writings. Seen here are the participants of one of the workshops we held in the San Diego region.
'They who recite the verses of the All-Merciful in the most melodious of tones will perceive in them that with which the sovereignty of earth and heaven can never be compared…. Say: These verses draw hearts that are pure unto those spiritual worlds that can neither be expressed in words nor intimated by allusion. Blessed be those who hearken.'
- The Kitab-i-Aqdas
The Iraninejad Family hosted a wonderful evening of music in their home with about 60 friends from the neighbourhood. It was also the night before my birthday, hence the birthday candles :) What a wonderful way to spend my birthday, doing what I love to such a warm and friendly audience. Was such a treat to meet so many dedicated friends who are investing so much time and energy into enriching the lives of children in their community in such creative ways!
Baha’i Blog’s “Studio Sessions” is an initiative where we invite Baha’is from around the world to come into a studio and share the Baha’i Writings put to music.
In this Baha’i Blog Studio Session, we’re in Vancouver, Canada with Shadi Toloui-Wallace, Hoda Toloui-Wallace and Leif Thorseth who sing “I Adjure Thee” from the Writings of the Bab which is featured on Shadi's 2016 album 'Daughters of the Kingdom'.
You can also download the audio version of this song from Baha’i Blog’s Soundcloud page here:
This song was filmed and recorded in Vancouver, Canada, January 2017.
Here is the quotation used for the lyrics followed by a link to the chords:
“I adjure Thee by Thy might, O my God! Let no harm beset me in times of tests, and in moments of heedlessness guide my steps aright through Thine inspiration. Thou art God, potent art Thou to do what Thou desirest. No one can withstand Thy Will or thwart Thy Purpose.”
– The Bab
Not many of you may know this, but I also play in a small indie Jazz band in Vancouver called Tiny Havoc with some of my friends and former colleagues at the Sarah McLachlan School of Music. It's really fun to play around with lyrics and melody amongst such talented friends/musicians.
We just finished recording out debut album and hope to release it before this Summer. Here are some photos from a recent gig we played at a local venue, Guilt & Co.
Spent the afternoon and evening with youth in Frisco discussing themes such as living a coherent life, balancing service with study, and how to integrate the arts into community building. The evening ended with a few songs shared by myself and some of the talented youth.
Was an honour to work with roughly 20 Junior Youth and Youth from the Rockwall neighbourhood on memorizing some of the quotes they had chosen to put to music. We reflected on the importance of eloquence, reverence, articulation, phrasing and style when it comes to putting the sacred writings of Faith to music. We were limited in space and time, but our hearts were full with excitement and enthusiasm. Seen here are youth in various areas of the house, putting their chosen Writing to music. Was so inspiring to see the creativity these youth possessed and their elevated contributions to understanding the role of arts and music in unifying our communities. Many thanks to the de la Torre family for hosting so many friends and their families from the neighbourhood.
Got to catch up with some old friends from my year of service in the Baha'i World Centre after so many years, and they were gracious enough to host me and arrange a concert at the Oklahoma Baha'i Centre, a beautiful repurposed church in the University District.
Many thanks to Negeen Sobhani for the beautiful photos.
Was able to participate in a couple Ayyám-i-Há celebrations in the Houston Area including the childrens' festival pictured below. I also got to perform at a Fundraiser at the Baha'i Centre. I didn't get any photos from the performance but here is a picture of the really amazing mural on the outer wall of the centre, painted by non other than Weah.
The Zamora family hosted a wonderful house concert in their backyard, with over 60 guests. It was a beautiful night out doors, full of friendship, food, and good conversation.
Sharing music and stories at the Baton Rouge Baha'i Centre.
Was also lucky enough to have a talented percussionist, Asghar Naqvi, join me on stage. The music sounded so much better with him on board. Made me wish I could have my very own ensemble tour with me wherever I go.
Had the special opportunity to share some music and insights at the annual Blue Bonnet Baha'i Conference in Austin, Texas.
Many thanks to (c) Randall L. Ricklefs, 2017 for some of these photos.
Click to read the full interview
Had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with some youth in Nanaimo, BC, who were studying book 1 and wanted to gain some skills in memorizing the Baha'i writings through music. Later that evening the youth were able to share their new original melodies at a house concert I was performing at. It was so lovely to see their innate capacity and enthusiasm to create and share their work.
Playing at the monthly Artesia coffeehouse in the beautiful coastal town of Sechelt, BC, amongst some favoured local musicians.
Performing at the Portland Baha'i Centre.
Many thanks to the friends and Local Spiritual Assembly who helped organise and support the event.
I had the privilege of working with some of the most talented youth in Vancouver, on behalf of the Vancouver edition of Baha'i Blog Studio Session . Here are some photos from our full recording day at Blue Light Studios. Many thanks to the youth and staff at Blue Light for offering their time and working so tirelessly with the utmost joy <3