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Have you ever noticed this – you’ll hear a song you haven’t heard for a long, long time, and you’ll remember all the lyrics? And the melody? And the feeling it gave you when you first heard it? Isn’t that an amazing feeling?
That’s because inspiration creates music. Inspiration comes from a feeling, a power, an energy that sometimes isn’t seen or felt, but after time passes the moments become revealed and the inspiration transpires. That’s why we always remember great music – it lodges not just in our minds, but in our hearts and souls.
Brett Smith and Mike Dragoman’s first encounter with each other created an instant bond, because they shared a deep love for that kind of lasting, memorable and spiritual music. Throughout the years the band has created not only a wealth of powerful music, but also a family bond where beautiful relationships formed. According to them, their musical influences can be credited to Simon and Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Peter Gabriel and Hans Zimmer. They formed the band over ten years ago, and it now consists of these members: Brett Smith, Michael Dragoman, Emily Dragoman, Aaron Ferrera, Asher Lenz, and John Ebata.
For this wonderful band, music is like life — sometimes there are ups and there are downs, and sometimes it’s just what you want it to be. Most importantly, though, the band attempts to constantly perfect and advance their craft. As artists, they always want their next piece of work to be more touching, more profound and more effective than the last one. Brett Smith says, “With our music, this concept is compounded by the fact that we are writing about the manifestations of God and Abdu’l-Baha – so we are constantly questioning the music and the lyrics, wanting to ensure that we are doing our best to represent the personage or theme we are writing about accurately and reverently.” This quote from the Baha’i writings exemplifies what Smith and Dragoman work towards:
Music is regarded as a praiseworthy science at the Threshold of the Almighty, so that thou mayest chant verses at large gatherings and congregations…. By virtue of this, consider how much the art of music is admired and praised. Try, if thou canst, to use spiritual melodies, songs and tunes, and to bring the earthly music into harmony with the celestial melody. Then thou wilt notice what a great influence music hath and what heavenly joy and life it conferreth. Strike up such a melody and tune as to cause the nightingales of divine mysteries to be filled with joy and ecstasy. – From a letter written by Abdu’l-Baha, Compilations, p. 204.
As Mike Dragoman says, “All things in this world are influenced and move and grow in cycles. I see that our work parallels the Baha’i Faith, in that it is still growing and maturing. Each of the members in this project is contributing more and more with each passing year. The advantage we now have is the experience behind us, and the personal growth of each of the members from a musical perspective. As well, we are slowly learning how to present this music better in a live setting, which is very different than creating in a studio environment. The challenge we now face is finding the resources and time to share this music with more audiences in more places around the world.”
Smith and Dragoman have three CDs and a ‘Live in Concert’ DVD. Their first CD, ‘Open the Gates’ tells the stories of The Bab, Baha’u’llah’s predecessor. Their second CD — ‘Under the Lote-Tree’ — is primarily about Baha’u’llah and His family. Their third CD, ‘The Mystery’, focuses on the remarkable life of Abdu’l-Baha.
Two of Smith and Dragoman’s songs fit into the category of immensely powerful elegies to spiritual heroism — and both feature different lead vocals. The lyrics of these two songs echo the eloquence of this world, and explore the mystery of why we came to be. Both “The Purest Branch” and “Prisoners” are filled with purity and love — you can hear it in the band’s voices and in the textures of the sounds they create.
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Smith and Dragoman have a global fan base, with a strong following in Australia, Canada and the U.S. The band has performed mainly in North America, but one day they hope to perform in Europe and Australia, as well. But that won’t happen immediately — band members Emily and Asher are expecting their first baby this March.