Voices of the Spirit
Houston is a remarkably diverse city—and in no domain of city life is that more apparent than in its faith communities. Many immigrants to the city have created a sense of home for themselves through membership in churches, mosques, temples, and the like. It is not surprising, then, that most of these communities have fostered rich sacred music traditions.
Each year Houston Arts Alliance’s Folklife and Traditional Arts Program celebrates these sacred music traditions with a concert entitled Voices of the Spirit. This year’s concert, which features music from Houston’s Sufi, Sikh, Nigerian, Vietnamese, and Hindu faith communities, is presented in partnership with Asia Society Texas Center.
Join us in celebrating the rich artistic and cultural traditions that reside in Houston’s immigrant communities.
About the 2013 Voices of the Spirit Artists
Zubair Al Awadi is an internationally-recognized oud master who fled Iraq in the wake of the war and, after many relocations, resettled as a refugee in Houston in 2009. His repertoire is wide-ranging and includes a broad knowledge of Sufi tradition.
Bhai Bhupinder Singh Paras Ji and Bhai Charanjit Ji are the spiritual leaders and performers of the shabad kirtan for the Gurdwara Sahib of Southwest Houston. Bhai Paras Ji leads the kirtan and plays harmonium and is accompanied on tabla by Bhai Charanjit Ji.
The Saint Martin Vietnamese Catholic Choir performs every Saturday for evening mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The choir has been active there for over 25 years, but many members date their participation in Houston choirs to the mid ‘70s, when large populations of Vietnamese fled Southeast Asia and resettled in Houston.
Melloh Rhythm is a guitar player and vocalist who performed and toured for years with world music legend Femi Kuti. After settling in the city, he formed his own band which plays high-life, juju, and soukous for the majority of Nigerian weddings and parties throughout Houston. He is the son of a Nigerian gospel musician, and as musical director for his church, he relies on these rhythms to infuse their evangelical praise music.
Kruthi and Keerthana Bhat, sisters and fourth generation musicians, perform Carnatic devotional music associated with southern India. Their mother and teacher, Rajarajeshwary Bhat, is a world renowned master and instructor in this vocal tradition.
About Houston Arts Alliance
Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) is a nonprofit agency established by the City of Houston to enhance the quality of life and tourism in the Houston region by advancing the arts on its behalf.
Voices of the Spirit is made possible by the generosity of the National Endowment for the Arts, Houston Endowment, Morgan Family Foundation and His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for the Southwestern United States.