Islamic scholar Gülen’s poems turned into songs for international album

Twelve songs based on poems by Fethullah Gülen are featured in the new album, “Rise Up-Colors of Peace.” (Photo: Today's Zaman)
Twelve songs based on poems by Fethullah Gülen are featured in the new album, “Rise Up-Colors of Peace.” (Photo: Today's Zaman)


Date posted: March 11, 2013

Artists from twelve different countries composed music for poems written by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is known for his global message of peace and inter-faith tolerance, for an album titled “Colors of Peace-Rise Up” to promote peace and tolerance.

The poems were translated into English, and each artist selected one poem to interpret in song.

“Colors of Peace” brought two artists together from Israel and Palestine, Kobi Farhi and Ruba Shamshoum, respectively. Performing together for the first time, Farhi and Shamshoum sang the Gülen poem “The Pure Path.”  The singer of the band Orphaned Land from Israel, Farhi is a well-known name not only in the Middle East, but also Europe, Latin America and India. Palestinian singer Shamshoum, who is also followed closely in the region, also works as an actor and has composed music for several movies.

Nil, a production company, completed the album in two years jointly with Universal Music. As part of the project, 50 Gülen poems were translated into English and sent to artists, and each artist picked a poem to turn into a song. As a result of this diversity, this world music album includes different genres such as pop, jazz, Indian sounds, Flamenco and Rai. The album is being marketed all over the world.

The project development manager of Nil Production, Tevfik Aslan, says that “Rise Up” turned out to be a diverse and colorful album that calls for peace with its universal language at a time when wars are prevalent.

Natacha Atlas from Britain, who sang on the album, said that she picked the most romantic Gülen poem to sing, as she joined other artists who stated that they found Gülen’s poems romantic and impressive.  She said that the poem “Continuous Beauty” has a unique spirituality, as she defined it as a “personal kind of love and a different connection with God.”

Atlas said that she learned more about Gülen after the project: “I heard that there were many rumors about Gülen, and his ideas and books are widely discussed. What is important for me is that he encourages dialogue. Spiritual and religious leaders have always been a center of criticism in all ages, but I have positive feelings about Gülen.” She also expressed her hope concerning the contribution of the “Colors of Peace” project to dialogue.

Ukraine’s well-known voice of the band Bahroma, Roman Baharev, described Gülen as a “romantic wise man” as he said that he was touched by all his poems.  Giving voice to the poem “Don’t leave me alone,” Baharev added that he translated some of the poems into his own language. “I did not know about Fethullah Gülen before. I read his biography and realized that he is a man that enlightens people with his ideas,” commented Baharev. Expressing his pleasure to be a part of the project, Baharev added, “The world needs to renew itself, and just like Gülen I am in favor of enlightenment.”

German artist Chris Buseck who composed and sang “Rise Up” (Kalk Yiğidim), which became the title of the album, said, “I could not refuse to be a part of such a project that aims for peaceful coexistence among people.”

Pursing his work in Hamburg as part of a project called Good Morning Diary, Buseck started to research Gülen’s ideas after Nil Production’s offer. “I had to know about the goal of the project if I was going to take part in it,” said Buseck, adding that he read articles about Gülen and researched the ideas that he advocates.

“I saw that the project advocates values such as peaceful coexistence, mutual respect and education for all regardless of religious affiliation, language or culture,” Buseck said.  He said that he is happy to support such a message, which should be spread by means of music.

Buseck said that the title of the poem was a reason why he chose that particular work. Stating that he has always liked the word “rise,” the singer used the word in his songs several times. He said that a feeling of melancholy dominates the tone of the poem and reflects well the overall feeling of the project.

On the album, the Italian musician Ely Bruna also took part, utilizing the poem “Music of Rain.” Performing in the genre of soul-jazz and funk, Bruna is a musician who has shared the same stage with famous singers, such as Whitney Houston. Describing the lyrics of “Music of Rain” as “perfect and very poetic,” Bruna said that music is a bridge that helps people live in peace and harmony. Along with others, she also expressed her happiness in taking part in such a project.

Ryan Shaw from the United States, Maher Zain from Egypt, KK&Reet from India, Cristello Duo Feat. Bruno Gouveia from Brazil, Bon Bon from Hungary, Faudel from France, Carmen Paris from Spain are among the other artists who sang on “Rise Up.”

The poems selected by the artists for the album include “Down Comes in Dreams,”  “The worldly life,” “Rose of My Heart,” “Rise Up,” “Separation and Hope,” “Continuous Beauty,” “Never,” “Rainbow,” “Music of Rain,” “Don’t Leave Me Alone” and “The Cry of the Nightingale.”

Source: Today’s Zaman 10 March 2013


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