Shidan Toloui-Wallace is one of the most admired contemporary chanters in the Bahá’í world.
Her reputation was established during the time she served at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa from 1991–1997. Shidan was regularly selected to chant on special occasions for the hundreds of Bahá’ís from all over the world who were either serving or visiting, during this period. The greatest honour among all occasions for Shidan, was the invitation to chant at the Holy Day observances held in the sacred grounds of the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh.
During those years in Haifa, Shidan’s service as a chanter of Bahá’í prayers and scripture won approval by distinguished Bahá’ís who knew of the style preferences of Shoghi Effendi, the great grandson of Bahá’u’lláh and the head of the Faith.
It was in Haifa that, with the permission of the Universal House of Justice, Shidan recorded her first album with dear friend and fellow Bahá’í World Centre staff member Taraneh Rafati, titled The Call of Carmel. Accompanying them was Shidan’s uncle, the late Massod Missaghian, on the santoor (a hammered dulcimer).
Shidan’s daughter Shadi, is also a talented songstress who has produced albums, Leather Bound Book (2009), Verdant Isle (2009) and most recently, Daughters of the Kingdom (2016). On all three albums, Shidan was invited to collaborate with Shadi, continuing the tradition of fusing the East and West through their hauntingly beautiful melodies.
In 2012 Shidan recorded her first solo album, titled Phoenix of Love, which was produced by the American Bahá’í guitarist, producer and dear friend, Mr. Louie Shelton. Shidan invited her daughter Shadi to collaborate with her on three of the album tracks. The other highlight is the inclusion of some old recording of her late uncle Mr Masood Missaghian playing the santoor.
While this album contains predominantly a style that reflects Shidan’s heritage and experience in Persian song and tones, it also has a taste of the wonderful fusion of East and West, one that is admired by anyone who appreciated world music. Shadi’s soulful contribution is joined with Shidan’s melodious tones in three tracks to bring you a taste of this melding of two cultures.
Shidan Toloui was born in Tehran, Iran, was raised there until she was 16 when her family moved to Vancouver, Canada. After marrying an Australian Bahá’í, Paul Wallace, and combining surnames, she moved to Australia in the 1980s. Since then, Shidan Toloui-Wallace has chanted at national and international conferences and gatherings in countries including Australia, Canada, Israel, United States and most recently, Chile.
Shidan was raised in a family of musicians. She learned her art form from her father and mother, who chanted prayers every morning. They imbued the love and respect for this sacred music into their daughter.
“As a Bahá'í I was brought up to believe that music is the food for the soul, so to me, life without music would be like starving my soul. Chanting for me, is like an expression of my soul the same way visual artists express their feelings in a painting or ceramics.”