This sounds really great!!
Dawud’s New Book and CD For Children Is On The Way!
from wharnsby.com Blog
“I’ve packed some poems for lunch,
some rhymes for us to chew.
a simple, sippy soup of songs
to stir and sing and stew…”
Enter Into Peace and Kube Publishing are pleased to announce that Dawud Wharnsby’s new book “A Picnic of Poems” is scheduled for release in the United Kingdom this coming spring (US release is scheduled for early 2012).
“A Picnic of Poems” is Dawud’s first offering for children in over eight years (the last being his 2003 CD “The Prophet’s Hands”). The beautifully illustrated anthology is made up of thirty new compositions aimed at youngsters ages 3-7 and includes an audio CD of all the songs, inspiring families to sing-along as they read.
The hefty collection of new work was written by Dawud over the past two years, begun shortly after he, his wife and their daughter moved to the semi-rural outskirts of Abbottabad, a small city located on the Karakorum Highway in Northern Pakistan. “My daughter had just turned one when we moved abroad. Around that my friends at Kube in England suggested I revisit working on spiritually educational songs for children. I had stepped away from recording such material back in 2003 when the trend of hymns based in Qur’anic tradition ~ or nasheed as they are known in many parts of the world ~ became quite commercial.” says Wharnsby.
Dawud rose to international recognition in the mid 1990s for his groundbreaking album “A Whisper of Peace”, one of the first recordings of English language nasheed ever distributed professionally on an international scale, thanks to pioneering educational media producers Sound Vision. Between 1995 and 2003 he went on to release over six recordings for children in his unique vocal-based folk style, with lyrics that often contained deeper messages intended more for eavesdropping parents than for their unsuspecting youngsters. As a result Dawud Wharnsby’s recordings and ideas have literally fostered an entire generation of muslim youth — many of whom are now professionals, community leaders, activists and parents themselves. Out of a desire to keep his messages and educational objectives clear, Wharnsby established a trust fund for proceeds of those old recordings, which to this day continues supporting educational and humanitarian projects.
“As spiritual and educational nasheed began to evolve into a full blown Islamic pop business ~ which wasn’t my cup of tea ~ I figured it was time for me to bow out, raise a family and re-assess both my faith journey and my approach to music. My songs and poetry since that time have been more introspective and my audiences have not been limited to any one cultural or faith community. Being self-employed I am blessed with the opportunity of controlling my own work hours ~ working to live and not living to work ~ as they say. Between my musical tours I am free to slow down at home ~ think, read, reflect, re-examine life and re-awaken my own childlike wonder of the world alongside my own children.”
Dawud’s new collection of songs “A Picnic of Poems” was written primarily from the perspective of his three year old daughter. “My daughter loves to sing,” says Wharnsby, “and I really wanted to write some new material for her to enjoy ~ with ideas and concepts directly linked to Qur’anic ideology, but presented in ways that she could identify with in her daily life.” The result is a warm, intimate, innocent and at times touching series of songs that comes across like a day in the life of the wide-eyed children most of us adults once were. There are songs about ants, bees, corn, spiders, storms, roses and crows, alongside songs about God, prophets, prayer, family and how to deal with loss, fear, bullying and change.
But parents needn’t worry they will go crazy listening to shallow refrains of baby-songs during long road trips. Beyond all the expected Wharnsby-esque silly voices and lyrics about trees and bugs, there are also the subtle Wharnsby Trademarks of satire and sarcasm. This picnic basket of songs may have lilting language, but it also has some heavy metaphors for parents to chew. Dawud continues to use the seemingly innocent platform of nursery rhymes to get his opinions across on subjects that he is passionate about, including gender equity, environmental awareness and preservation, social cohesion, religious tolerance, the promotion of Simple Living, the dangers of nationalism, his outright disagreement with modern-day weaponry and even his personal dislike of urbanization.
The accompanying CD to “A Picnic of Poems” reveals a more polished and mature (but also more relaxed) voice than listeners may recall from the “Whisper of Peace” days. But like “Whisper” (recorded independently in 1995 for a budget of only $500 Canadian dollars) Wharnsby serves up these new chants directly from his home-studio. “I wanted these songs to really come from my heart ~ recorded with no fancy software, no auto-tune, no $50,000 budget ~ just me… my ideas and my voice poured onto a page and then, into a microphone.”
As a way of ensuring the songs do not end up as just another musical flavor of the month, destined to become a worn out CD under the seat of a car, Wharnsby and his publishers at Kube decided from the on-set that the new writings should be released in book form. “My words and ideas have always been the focus of my work ~ anyone who has really listened to my songs knows that about me. In these times of Twitter, Youtube and Text Messaging – where communication is fast and phonetic, I thought these new poems would have a more lasting effect on families if they were presented in book form ~ with good old fashioned ink and colourful illustrations. Though the song versions will also be made available on iTunes, rather than just having people listen to me sing them, it is my hope that families will sit together with the book and reawaken the traditions of reading together, learning together, singing together…discussing the concepts and creating memories around a communal experience. For that reason I took cues from some of my favourite authors who also wrote for children ~ people like Robert Louis Stevenson and Allama Iqbal ~ trying to ensure that my compositions were constructed with great care and attention to literary craft that, God willing, may render them timeless even after my voice and I are long gone.”
In an effort to bridge differences of musical taste, and ensure that no audience feels culturally alienated from what the poems have to offer, the bonus song CD accompanying the book is presented with only vocals and percussion. A folk-music version of the songs (with guitar accompaniment) will however, be made available digitally on iTunes later in the year for families who do enjoy slightly more “campfire style” arrangements.
But weather you choose to sing along with the “percussion only tracks” on the book’s bonus CD, the “guitar and banjo versions” you download from the internet, or just prefer to curl up with the kids and read the poems without any melody at all, we’re sure you’ll find “A Picnic of Poems in Allah’s Green Garden” will become a treasure in your home for generations to come.
“…like all good meals to much,
it would be very rude,
not to begin with bismillah
to bless our poetry food.”
from “A Picnic of Poems”