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Generally, Baha’i gatherings commence with prayer—it sets the tone and generates a spiritual atmosphere. Often the prayers are simply read from a prayer book or recited from memory; but sometimes a beautiful, melodious voice sings or chants the prayer, entrancing every listener.

At the beginning of a Baha’i meeting in 1984 in Apia, Western Samoa, I was completely distracted and moved by a melodious voice praying. In the crowded courtyard I couldn’t see the singer, but her voice compelled me. A few days later I met her, and began to discover her many remarkable qualities. A year later, in 1985, we were married.  

Shidan and I now have three grown children—Shadi, Hoda and Josh. Ever since our first meeting, music and song has reverberated at the core of our family and our Faith:

…set to music the verses and the divine words so that they may be sung with soul-stirring melody in the Assemblies and gatherings, and that the hearts of the listeners may become tumultuous and rise towards the Kingdom of Abha in supplication and prayer. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 378.

My wife Shidan is a gifted Persian chanter. She chanted and sang prayers with our children daily, developing their inner spirits and outer selves. Shadi and Hoda became members of a State Children’s Choir and had private vocal tutoring for more years than I can recall. Shadi and Josh spent years self-teaching guitar and song writing. Then, as a teenager, Shadi began to read the Baha’i sacred writings and put them to music. It wasn’t until Shadi started playing these songs for others that she realized the impact that musical versions of the Baha’i writings could have on the human spirit.

Shidan Toloui-Wallace with her three children on Ridvan

Shidan Toloui-Wallace with her three children visiting the Ridvan Garden near Akko Israel in 1993

In 2008, Shadi sang a prayer at a Baha’i gathering, and I was un-aware that the person sitting next to me was the legendary music producer Louie Shelton. After introductions, Louie discovered that Shadi was about to depart for 12 months of Baha’i service in Haifa, at the Baha’i World Centre. A year later, Louie invited Shadi to his home to sing her songs and explore her future in music. The outcome of this meeting was the recording of her two Baha’i-inspired studio albums, Leather Bound Book and Verdant Isle.

After Shadi relocated to Vancouver, Canada in 2011, she began travelling to many countries, performing her music at venues large and small. As a musician, Shadi yearns to be of service to others; and to our ongoing amazement we constantly receive feedback from friends and strangers that have heard her music and felt it affect their souls. Her songs are regularly included in devotions at Baha’i gatherings from Mongolia to Manhattan; played at weddings and funerals; heard by mothers giving birth to their babies, and others who are at the end of their lives; played in cars, on TV and radio in every continent. I first fell in love with the sweet melody of her mother’s voice, and now our daughter has expanded that love into a worldwide phenomenon:

Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men… – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 295.

You can listen to Shadi’s music here.

Shadi continues her drive to make Baha’i-inspired art by collaborating with other musicians to deliver melodious, uplifting music that serves the community. It’s not easy, though—it takes years to prepare to record a new body of work, and months to identify suitable collaborators, then more months of rehearsal before recording the songs. If you’re inspired by Shadi’s music, you can hear more and even help her make her next album.

3 Comments

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  • Feb 26, 2016
    And it is Shidan not Shadi i was making reference of in the period mentioned. I have just listened to Shadi now and she was most certainly a baby then. She has grown up beautifully and is indeed extremely talented like her mom
  • Feb 26, 2016
    I remember the first time that I heard Shadi sing on the Concourse at the Seat of the Universal House of Justice at the Bahai World Centre. I had never heard such a melodious voice chanting the blessed Holy Words in such a fashion before. It was indeed memorable. It may have been the year 1992 or 1993 when I was serving there at the World Centre in the Audio Visual department. I am glad that the family has supported her in pursuing a career where her voice can send the healing message to the masses. You truly have a ...great family brother Paul and with all my love to you all.
    Derek Sithole
    Zimbabwe
    Read more...
  • Peter Seery
    Feb 25, 2016
    Hi Paul,
    Thank you for such a beautiful history !
    Cordial Regards
    Peter