In 2000 and again in 2003, the Regional Baha’i Council of the Southern States sponsored a big conference in Nashville, TN. I was lucky enough – not only to participate, but to sing – at both conferences. They were both big conferences, but the second one was HUGE!!
At the 2003 conference, I was singing with the One Human Family Workshop Choir during devotions. It began with all of us on stage but in darkness. Then the wonderful Laura Love Ware’s voice came out of the darkness over the PA, reading a very powerful quote about Baha’u’llah’s imprisonment in the Black Pit (Siyah-Chal) in Teheran. After this, the lights very slowly came up and we started singing a wonderfully Carribean-flavored song, “Holy Spirit”…….
Here we are rehearsing the song at the sound check the night before:
So anyway, right after we were done, we knew we had to get off the stage very quickly and sit in the seats in the front rows that had been reserved for us so the next part of devotions could take place, which was Dan Seals singing “Proclaim the Greatest Name”.
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I first heard that song so far back I don’t even remember when it was. It is very well known amongst Baha’is especially, but I didn’t know it was one of Dan’s songs until the late 1990’s. So I was sitting maybe fifteen feet away from him as he was singing this song, and almost immediately just all 5000 of us in attendance start singing along with him, especially loudly on the chorus:
“Baha’u’llah! Baha’u’llah! Help us all proclaim the Greatest Name!
Baha’u’llah! Baha’u’llah! Help us all proclaim the Greatest Name!”
On the second chorus, I was so close to him I could see the tears coming to his eyes and he stopped singing for a moment. I instantly understood that he was moved by all of us singing his song and Baha’u’llah’s name and his gratitude to be a part of it all, ‘cos that was the kind of guy he was. I felt and still feel honored to have been a part of that moment and to catch a tiny glimpse of what it meant to him.
This is not a picture from that event, but it is very similar to how he looked that day:
And here’s a picture from when Dan (on the right) and his brother Jimmy (formerly of Seals & Crofts) performed on the Grand Ole Opry about 4 years ago:
I’ll be singing in the choir at his funeral tomorrow. Sure wish there was no reason for a funeral…