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My family and I were lucky enough to be invited as performers to the Annual Phoenix, Arizona Grand Canyon Baha'i Conference for our fourth year. Around 3000 registered participants gathered to learn, deepen and be inspired. I was fortunate to be surrounded by so many loved ones and mentors. It was such an honour to share our music as part of the program, and to meet many friends who'd been impacted by our devotional songs. Lots of love and encouragement was felt in the many interactions that took place over the weekend.
Highlights were obviously sharing the stage with my mother and sister, but also with my music mentors and close friends, Jamie Heath and the group Smith & Dragoman, who were also performers at the conference. Jamie, Hoda and Myself got to join Smith & Dragoman for a suprise collab on the outro chorus to Divine Tapestry, a song that my family used to listen to daily on our way to school. It only took us about 4 minutes to drive to school every day, but because the song was around 6 minutes, I remember sitting in silence with my family waiting for the song to end and fill our blood streams before leaving the car and going about our day. Friends would often walk by the car and see us all sitting in silence, pointing to the direction of the school and we would just wave them by as we didn't want to leave until the African Choir joins in on the closing chorus until the song had ended. And here we were, over 10 years later, singing that exact chorus, with the very band that created it, on the other side of the world <3
Here are a few photos from the weekend:
On October 22nd, the world celebrated the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Baha'u'llah, Founder of the Baha'i Faith. Thousands of events, commemorations and celebrations took place around the world, many of which can be seen here. It was so unique to see how each town, city and region across the world applied their culture and traditions to this universal celebration and how they included all walks of life.
In East Vancouver where I live, I took part in 4 unique celebrations in my neighbourhood 'Commercial Drive', each taking on their own identity which widely depend on who was organizing and attending the celebration. My most memorable experience was organising a Unity Feast at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre, which focused primarily on indigenous friends and connections in the area. In their large gymnasium we hosted over 250 Elders, Chiefs, Families, Youth and Children. The program honoured the Coast Salish nations on whose land our celebration took place: Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam. The program included singing, dancing and drumming from various nations, youth, and junior youth sharing the impact of Bahá’u’lláh's revelation on their communities. Elders and chiefs shared how they learnt about Bahá’u’lláh, how they were inspired by His teachings, and the influence of the Faith on the lives of their people. A dignitary from the Musqueam Nation welcomed everyone with a prayer in his native language and followed by saying “I prayed that you would all recognize the truth in Baha’u’llah’s words,” he told the audience afterwards.
Here are some photos from the Celebration at the Aboriginal Centre of which I was a part of:
Photos taken by Galen Hamber
Once again, I enjoyed a magical weekend in Wisconsin, at the annual Greenlake Baha'i Conference, amongst 600 or so others. It was such a treat to be present to reflect on concepts such as Hope & the Family, to enjoy in the arts and music, and reconnect with old and new friends. I also gave a workshop on Songwriting and putting the Sacred Baha'i Writings to music, which provided participants an opportunity to collaborate and develop some stunning tunes.
Here are a couple pictures from my weekend at Greenlake and also from my trip to the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmet where I performed a devotional the night after the conference. Always a pleasure and an honour. Thanks to everyone who came out! I hope to return again some day soon <3
Hear my latest collaboration with my mum, Shidan Toloui-Wallace!
Performing 'Fire Tablet' at my live release show for my album 'Daughters of the Kingdom'.
Was a wonderful weekend reflecting on the 'Joy of Teaching' and taking part in the planning of advancing many community development projects currently underway in Winnipeg and around the region. I had the opportunity to share my music and a very special hands on workshop that focuses on the importance of putting the Sacred Baha'i Writings to music and also ways to do it ourselves.
Such a memorable night playing in my friends backyard on a warm Friday night, sharing my music with old and new friends. Many thanks to my dear friend, Nura, Pardis and Khalil for hosting the night and making it such a beautiful and memorable event <3
The Tahirih Justice Center is a US based non-profit organization that has served over 22,000 courageous individuals fleeing violence since 1997. Their efficient, effective, and innovative model of service range from direct legal services, policy advocacy and training and education to protect immigrant women and girls fleeing violence.
I was privileged enough to be given the opportunity to share some music from my album Daughters of the Kingdom, at a private fundraiser in support of the TJC mission, and to help raise funds to expand and service more women and girls. I was inspired by strong women when writing Daughters of the Kingdom, so it was lovely to be able to make this connection with the Tahirih Justice Centre, to promote justice and equality for strong women who have the courage to stand up to injustice.
My dear dear friend Poupak hosted a beautiful house concert on her back patio as the California sun set. It was so lovely to see so many new and familiar faces. It was a chilly night, but our hearts were cozy and warm. Poupak is a constant source of support and such a perfect example of advocacy for arts in the Baha'i Faith. I always feel at home here and am so grateful for all the love and hospitality I'm showered with every time I return.
After 6 years I was able to return to San Clemente for another wonderful Soul Food program hosted by the community. Thanks for having me back, was such a treat to be with you all and share my reflections on the theme of Oneness.
I had the special opportunity to share my music at a monthly gathering called Divine Melodies on Friday, June 9th, at Ataii/Ebrahimi home. There happened to be a concert flautist in the audience who offered to improvise on a couple of the songs, and it brought me so much joy to hear these songs with such beautiful new harmonies.
I was able to sneak in a visit to Calgary to visit some dear friends, visit the youth of Morley reserve and perform a small house concert at the Mottahedeh Residence.
MUCH LOVE AND THANKS to Neeka, Stephan, Rocky, & Martha for arranging and hosting this beautiful intimate house concert in Calgary. Almost 70 friends came together including the youth of Morley Reserve who opened the night with a prayer they had composed to their original melody. Was such a special and memorable night, thanks to all who came out, it was so lovely to meet you all <3 Click on the images below to see an album of the night.
I had the privilege of performing a number of small private house concerts/devotionals and one larger show at the Baha'i Centre of Edmonton over the weekend of May 12th to 15th. I was fortunate enough to have a number of backers support Daughters of the Kingdom from Edmonton so much of the trip included fulfilling these rewards and meeting the friends. A highlight was certainly spending time with my old friend and fellow Baha'i Musician, Katie Mustafayeva. She has one of the most powerful voices that when paired with the sacred writings shakes you to the core and connects you to a spirit that is so divine, raw and pure!
Was so blessed that she agreed to open the night <3
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.