Our names are Shidan and Shadi Toloui-Wallace. We’re a mother/daughter duo originally from Brisbane, Australia, but now call Vancouver, Canada home. Music has always been a central and integral part of our family life, as has our belief in the Baha’i Faith. A pivotal moment for us both was about 10 years ago when we began our journey of musical collaborations. We’ve since composed and arranged original melodies to six prayers that live across four different albums, each featuring our unique blend of East and West.
We’ve been humbled by the response of our listeners, who’s hearts have been touched by hearing both the native language and English translation of the Creative Word, through melody. We’ve found that by intricately blending the English, Persian and Arabic languages together through music, we are bringing the Baha'i Sacred Writings in their original form, to an audience who may otherwise not be exposed to it. As a result, our collaborations have been far reaching than we could’ve ever anticipated, inspiring friends all over the world to compose their own cross-cultural fusion.
It’s been a few years since our last collective musical release, and over the years many of our listeners have expressed their desire to have more collaborations and have them all available in one place. We want you to know that we’ve heard your requests loud and clear!
We’re excited to announce our new collaborative project that will feature all our old and NEW collaborations on one special release album.
The Incredible Impact of Kickstarter
Three years ago we launched our very first Kickstarter campaign. We weren’t sure what to expect but we knew that with the support of my friends and family from around the world we could make something great. So we launched our campaign and within just a few weeks we had raised enough money to fund the production of my third studio album Daughters of the Kingdom. We were overwhelmed by the incredible support from over 530 individuals who backed our project, and brought our dreams to reality. Our backers were from all over the world, from diverse backgrounds and beliefs. They trusted our vision and were willing and enthusiastic to support us financially in creating our album – something that would’ve been impossible without our backers.
Within a short period of 4 months we were able to arrange, record, and produce our full-length album, featuring original melodies and a live studio band. Just like previous records, we were able to keep to tradition by including collaborations with other members of the Toloui-Wallace family, including my mother Shidan. With the stretch goal met, we were able to pay for additional instruments to the production as well as live video footage of the Daughters of the Kingdom launch concert, which was held in Vancouver, in September 2016.
What's happened since Daughters of the Kingdom?
Since its release, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to tour Daughters of the Kingdom to audiences around the world, touring Canada, the United States, South America and Australia. Because of the wide success of the album and the needs that it presented for me to travel, I was able to leave my full time job and turn my music into my primary source of income – a dream for any musician. I was even given the opportunity to perform at the inauguration of the House of Worship in Santiago, Chile.
I’ve offered my music at several conferences and countless house concerts, learning how to support community-building efforts in the communities I visit. I was able to create several workshops that focus on building creative capacity in community members and have been facilitating them while on tour. I’ve collaborated with several other musicians live and in the studio, and supported them with their own Kickstarter campaigns as well. My experiences with music in the Baha’i community also lead me to become the Art Editor at BahaiTeachings.org, where for the past 12 months I’ve been writing and producing a podcast series called Cloud9, which focuses on interviewing Baha’i artists and how the Baha'i Faith inspires their creative process.
Overwhelmed by the reaction of listeners to our most recent collaboration, The Fire Tablet, we knew that we had to keep working on more material together. As life circumstances have given us good health, time, and allowed us to live close to one another, we’ve been busy working on new melodies set to the Sacred Baha'i Writings, featuring the unique blend of Eastern and Western music. We’ve teamed up with a local team of engineers and musicians, to bring you 5 new collaborative songs of the similar feel and aesthetic.
Our musical journey has been unique in that it really came from a place of love. Love that our family showed us in nurturing our creativity as children, and the love that we share for our Faith and belief in Baha’u’llah's world embracing vision. My mother's musical journey was very similar to mine but began in the birthplace of the Baha’i Faith, Iran. There she was encouraged from a young age to chant the sacred verses in emotive, melodic and reverent tones, as she has continued to do to this day. The love for our Faith encourages us to constantly find ways to serve, and what better way than to serve through our passion for music?
Sharing this mutual love of Faith and music - as mother and daughter - has evolved into a very natural and organic mode of expression, and one of the greatest gifts we could share. We’ve witnessed first hand the effects that music has on the human soul, and to combine this with the healing words of The Bab, Baha’u’llah, and Abdu’l-Baha, and to bring their stories to life through songs and poems, has been such a bounty.
Collaborating with Shidan
Over the past decade my mother and I have shared our musical collaborations in countless performances, to thousands of audience members all over the world. It’s amazing to think that our six songs have gotten us this far. Spread across four albums, and released over the course of 10 years, our collaborations have provided us with opportunities to serve through music, on and off the stage, promoting the Baha’i teachings and shedding light on related causes, such as the plight of Baha’i’s in Iran.
We’ve been able to explore a genre of music that’s never really been done before. We believe that our close family connection played a huge part in this and our natural ability to blend Eastern and Western melodies, languages and instruments. Working and learning from other experienced musicians has also been a huge asset, and you can hear how this has impacted the quality of our melodies over the years. I’ve personally gained so much insight by working with my mother, and learning through her lens the depth of the Writings, and how they translate into her interpretive chants. Her unique phrasing and use of Eastern melodic tones were often not easy to work with in the Western model that I was familiar with. But, because of our close relationship, perseverance, ability to consult and collaborate, we were able to come up with probably our most appreciated pieces to date.
So far we’ve written, recorded and produced:
Neither my mum nor I expected any of the attention we received for our collaborations, but they’ve often turned into the highlight of our album and shows. Because of how natural it feels for us to work together, we felt it was only timely to release a record that focuses on this area of our music, that honors our mixed heritage and the heritage of the Baha'i Faith.
Our New Project
This campaign will hopefully launch our fifth album and first fully collaborative East/West, mother/daughter project. The album will include re-mastered versions of our already released six collaborations. We’re doing this because many of you have asked for our collaborations to live on one album, but we don’t want to leave it there! So we’re asking for funds to write, record and produce five new melodies to put on this new record. These new melodies will also be of a devotional nature, featuring sacred writings of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha.
Based on requests of our friends, family, and audience members from all over the world, we’ve learned that you love to sing along, share these prayers with your friends and teach them to your little ones. So we’ve taken your wishes and stories into consideration when choosing our quotes from the Writings and the melodies we set them too. We’ve done our best to apply your requests conceptually to each new musical piece that will appear on this record.
With a decade worth of experience working with amazing producers, engineers and musicians, we've learned a lot and feel it's time to take the reigns and fully produce our own record for the first time. So my mum and I will be producing the new music from start to finish, in Vancouver, in order to really see our vision come to life. We’ll be working with a local engineer and musicians, to ensure the utmost quality and consistency with our previous projects.
Once again, we'll be calling on the experience of our friends at Blue Light Studios who were responsible for recording and engineering our last project, Daughters of the Kingdom. We'll be collaborating with local artists on percussion, bass, cello, horns and guitar to bring you more unique sounds and experiences.
But all of this depends on you! We need your support to bring our dreams to life. This music isn’t about us, it’s about engaging the community that’s brought us to this point and hopefully inspired others. We’ve been so lucky to gain your support over the years and we want you to be involved in making our first collaborative album happen. Put simply, we can’t imagine doing this without you and this is the place to make it happen! By joining our Kickstarter community, you’ll also be working with us as a collaborator, and contributor on our creative journey. You’ll be the first to learn of our creative progress, developments, ideas along the way, and can offer your feedback, high-fives and words of encouragement.
Launching my Kickstarter three years ago was a huge game changer. It allowed me to have the money up front to pay my talented musicians and producers AND get twelve amazing new songs in your hands. Whereas, in the past we had to take out loans with the risk of taking years to pay off, and little to no money left to pay for our livelihoods as artists. After many years of experience playing music around the world and producing Baha’i inspired music, Kickstarter showed me that people are actually willing to pay for high quality productions and are willing to put their trust in us as musicians and content creators. I don’t take that trust lightly.
After Launching Daughters of the Kingdom, I left my job to pursue music full time for one year. Many communities around the world hosted me and provided me with amazing performance opportunities. I performed in large concert halls and family homes, sharing my music and desire to serve and teach the Baha’i Faith. Much like my last Kickstarter project, our hope for this album is to reach as many people as possible and in order to do that we need enough funds, up front. In order to produce this next album with my mum, and do it with the integrity and justice it deserves, it again requires this thing called money. I want to use this innovative platform - Kickstarter –once again, to bring my community of supporters together to bring this music to life.
The only way to make this happen is if we reach our funding goal of $20,000. Last time we raised an incredible $37,000 and we used it all to create and promote Daughters of the Kingdom, and that didn’t even account for my time as the artist of the project. This funding goal is the absolute minimum we need in order to make a great CD on a tight budget. Let me break it down for you.
What's In It For You?
In exchange for supporting the development of the album and our first entirely collaborative project, we wanted to give you the chance to be the first to receive a copy of the work you helped create. In addition to pre-ordering a digital or signed copy of the album, we also have a unique range of rewards in exchange for your contribution including, limited edition gift packs of the new album and entire collection, Skype hangouts, music lessons or tutorials anywhere in the world, personally recorded original songs and Persian chants to a writing of your choice, Free Tickets to our album launch concert in Vancouver, and for a lucky few we will both travel to perform and facilitate workshops anywhere in the world. See the rewards listed on the right for more details, and feel free to ask me anything and/or see the FAQ below.
March 24th to April 28th Kickstarter Campaign- This is an ALL OR NOTHING fundraising campaign where you can pledge any amount and claim a limited reward before the DEADLINE. ONLY if we meet our goal will we be able to record and produce the album. If we do not reach our goal of $20K, you will not be charged and we will not have the money to move forward with this project.
This Kickstarter is the only place for you to directly support us 100% and we want you to be the only people to access to the limited edition rewards and experiences available ONLY on this Kickstarter. We would be honored if you could hear our new music, all you have to do is become a backer by pre-ordering our album here and sharing this project with your friends and family.
Other Ways You Can Help:
If you can't contribute to the making of the album financially, that's ok! One way to help is by sharing our Kickstarter campaign on social media by using the icons below my Kickstarter video, or emailing the link, texting it to friends, basically anywhere you want. I want you involved in the process every step of the way, so stay tuned for updates throughout the project. My sister Hoda, mother Shidan, and I will be posting personal behind the scenes content regularly on our Kickstarter to all our backers, and you can also follow me on my Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Spotify, Apple Music etc.
Each one of you plays a valuable role in the production of this new album, regardless of your contribution, any support is appreciated. Thanks for joining us in this journey!
Risks and challenges
Backing my project is not the same thing as buying my CD. It is about backing my vision for a new collaborative approach to producing music. I love making music and am excited by the possibility of calling on my supportive friends and family to help make this project a reality, and share it with the world. However, if there are sudden unforeseen circumstances that affect the production of the album, we will be fully accountable to our backers. We will provide detailed reports of what issues exist and how we are addressing them. We will do everything we can to honor our commitment to our backers.
For answers to more general Kickstarter FAQ go here: https://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/backer+questions
Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ
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