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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.
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.