IS MUSIC ACTIVISM DEAD? PIONEERING ALBUM FROM MIDDLE EASTERN MUSICIAN SHOWS US DIFFERENTLY
Music has always been a played a pivotal role in activism using its sonic capacity to influence and bring attention to world issues, injustice and conscious movements. Spanning across multiple generations and coercing countries into a collective public stance; music has continued to convey significant messages marked by historic milestones; “We Shall Not Be Moved” was a traditional American folk song with lyrics connected back to the slave era before being championed as the song for labour and civil rights movements as well as numerous sit-in protests as a show of united resistance.
Throughout the 60’s/70’s a general public dissent was highlighted by Woodstock, with artists such as Bob Dylan producing songs about the African-American Civil Rights movement. The sultry tones of Marvin Gaye raised a voice against the Vietnam war and reflected poverty and drug abuse. Across the decades music remained an embellishment of voices, the South African revolution was unwittingly spearheaded by Sixto Rodriguez (Sugarman) as the instigator of change, he was preceded by Fela Kuti the active socio-political maverick and prominent human rights ambassador whilst Steven Van Zandt and revered record producer Arthur Baker formed their group “Artists United Against Apartheid.” Across the international waters we were directed by Reggae icon Bob Marley, who was considered “the voice of the Third World” and enthralled by John Lennon’s signature song, “Imagine” which conveyed a wish for world peace, this still ignites an emotive stance wherever it is played.
Music will always remain a motivator and has been an active tool to pierce political and reunify with its intention taking in flashbacks of Bob Gedolf’s Live Aid, Live 8, Farm Aid, Hope For Haiti and 46664 Concert hosted by Nelson Mandela in an effort to raise global awareness of the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa and supported by superstars Beyonce, Youssou N’Dour, and Queen to punctuate the message. In the UK they were confronted by the anti-establishment Punk scene driven by Malcolm MClaren’s Sex Pistols and also reminisce about the day UK Ravers raged against a repetitive beat ban imbued by the Criminal Rights Bill in 1994. Amazingly many of these artists and songs still hold placements in the greatest hits albums of all time, showing their strength still holds strong many decades later.
In recent years’ campaigning has been reduced to raising money for various charities. One artist that is bringing music activism back to the forefront is Shervin Boloorian, who is a world class sound therapist and celebrated vocalist. His recent album ‘One with the Beloved’ is uniting music fans from across the globe. The artist and leading Tama Do Sound Healer has remained relatively under the radar for many years residing in Bali. Now a music project that started as a vision for peace and reconciliation between different cultures has led to him leading at the forefront of a successful Kickstarter campaign, with thousands of new fans, an upcoming album release and a 40-date-strong European Tour. The pioneering album (One with the Beloved) which launches next month, was created out of Shervin’s desire to bridge the growing distance between Eastern and Western culture and address the major societal shifts that are forging this divide. Using music as a community-building force to connect people and provide a vehicle to transcend political agendas.
Shervin comments on his album:
“The songs belong to none and to all, just as Rumi says ‘not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu Buddhist, Sufi or Zen. The album is neither Sufi nor world music, not sound meditation, not muslim, not poetry nor entertainment, although contains features from all of the above.”
In today’s current climate we are dramatically faced by challenges from all corners of the globe. In the West, nations are consumed by technology and commercialism, creating an individualistic culture that disconnects us from ourselves and others; further leading to deep separation and isolation. Whereas in the East, entire countries are left baron and devoid of life from continual attacks resulting in the destabilisation of countries and their economy. The ongoing news headlines serve as a constant reminder of the general unrest between whole nations. Some have faced decades, if not centuries of political gridlock and violence, especially between Eastern and Western oppositions leading to many deaths around the world on both sides, rising refugee numbers and the uncertainty of our safety on a global scale. Shervin himself has a first hand experience of the tumultuous period born from the 1979 Iranian Revolution and Iran-Iraq war. His family were left as refugees, having to flee from Iran to find refuge in the UK. This openly accentuates Shervin’s deep rooted personal experience and knowledge that we need to actively drive change, if not in unison, starting one person at a time.
The impacts and facts of our modern world resonate loudly, but so does the global desire and invitation for a communal way to combine and empower communities with positive activity. Shervin’s album has successfully broken through the noise and his vision to bring change and a revolution to end the ongoing tragedies saturating our headlines is beginning to make a marked difference. It’s time to listen up and join a conscious movement that wants a better future for generations to come. The album assists this movement by showcases some of the teachings from Sufi Masters such as Rumi and allows listeners to gain a glimpse into the rich source of literature and arts from the Middle East, during a time when our associations with Islam have been hijacked by centuries of association with war and violence. The texts contained within the album were produced over 800 years ago, carrying a profound, universal and layered message of friendship, peace and wisdom that are both pertinent and relevant today. Furthermore, the scriptures from Rumi are evidence that peace and reconciliation is possible and also essential to our race’s survival and it’s evolution.
A gorgeous album from Shervin Boloorian, spiritual and entrancing. From a Burning Man sunrise to the beaches of Bali you can expect to hear this everywhere.
The One with the Beloved album quickly ignited engagement once its mission and music were released to the public in June. Through an innovative Kickstarter campaign the funding for this modest project reached 125% of target in less than 7 weeks. Widespread support from world press including Elephant Journal, Jarkarta Globe, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Yoga Guide SFfollowed as well as backing from Bali Spirit Festival and Yoga Barn.
The album will be released on Hi-Phi Music and is partially produced by Ric Peet; best known from 90’s psychedelic duo Candy Flip. He is now half of International Peoples Gang and a Live Sound Engineer for Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Real Estate and Crazy P. He has also worked on many successful albums, Recordings & Remixes for people including John Leckie, Muse, The Charlatans, Six By Seven, The Wildhearts , Chemical Brothers, Juan Atkins and Beth Orton to name a few.
Ric comments: “Shervin’s voice and music have a kinda magical quality that resonates with me, together it’s a very beautiful and pure sounding journey. The instruments he uses are very unique & when combined, blend wonderfully with each other on this record & have a timeless quality that has the ability to calm, sooth and delight all at the same time, Lovely stuff!”
The album which is partially produced by Ric Peet from the retrospective and chart topping Candy Flip, will be released on Hi-Phi Music and breaks new ground with this unique concept. Offering the world’s first Sufi chant (Zikr) in a West African style, accompanied by the Kora and additional meditation instruments that deliver Western and Eastern flavoured melodies and percussion the songs are rich in definition and variety. Support from the Electronic Music Industry has also flooded in from the likes of Fat Boy Slim, Timo Mass, Nick Warren and Tim ‘Love’ Lee and has even led to Shervin securing a space at this year’s Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) one of the world’s prominent music conference platforms, showing the level of calibre and reinforcement from the industry.
To celebrate the launch of the album, Hi-Phi Music are giving away one of the tracks for all listeners to enjoy. The song ‘Baza’ contains lyrics from the poem inscribed on Rumi’s tomb. ‘Come, again wanderer, idolater, worshiper of fire, Come even though you have broken your vows a hundred times, Come, and come yet again. Ours is not a caravan of despair.’ This will serve as a powerful introduction to a formative album that will earmark change at a pivotal time in history.
More about Shervin Boloorian
Shervin Boloorian, Western-raised refugee based in Bali, is a certified sound therapist, vocalist, workshop presenter and recording artist. Providing his holistic sound therapy and multi-instrumental concerts to thousands of guests over the years and has led fundraising for local causes in Bali through an informal community service program known as the Bali Sound Healers Collective (BSHC). BSHC sound and music events involve local artists and have already successfully raised money for Bali water rights, Bamboo reforestation, youth AIDS awareness amongst other localised Bali causes. For more information on how to support Shervin in bringing Rumi’s peace message to the world visit the Rumi Music Page.