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Folk: Modern Folk Folk: Singer/Songwriter Moods: Solo Male Artist Moods: Type: Acoustic Moods: Mood: Upbeat

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United States - California - SF

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Boundless Gratitude

I tell musical stories that often draw inspiration from nature-based, sacred metaphors of the kind one might expect to find in Spirituals and Blues, in Gregorian and Islamic chants, and in the nature-based stories of various indigenous peoples, often but not exclusively indigenous peoples of Africa and the Americas. I was Christened at birth with a Muslim name in a Nazarene Church and grew up in a West-Indian household in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. I attended a Seventh-Day-Adventist elementary school, and was baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic at age 13. I started playing folk guitar in my early twenties, inspired by an acoustic fingerpicking rendition of JS Bach’s “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring.” My third baptism took place in a Southern Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas during my mid-twenties.

I took an evening class in world religions in my late twenties, and subsequent readings introduced me to Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Unity of Religious Ideals, the first and perhaps only written discussion of religion that came close to expressing the unconventionally multi-religious ideals that I had grown up with. Khan’s characterizations of nature as the source of all scripture and musical vibration as the source of all life and existence struck a fundamental chord that still rings true with me today. It was around that time that I wrote my first song, about an ant crossing the universe, in my first journal, which was titled The Ravings of H.A.J.B. the Mad Poet in large letters across the first page: a title that would evolve into my “Hajb the Mad Poet” stage name more than two decades later.

Seventeen years after writing my first song, my first foray into public storytelling, the book Better Than A Thousand Months, was motivated by my wife’s insistent and repeated urgings that I share my uniquely different way of seeing things. The story of how that initial statement continued to evolve, at first into an “Imagine Peace Project” and later into a “Peace Jungle,” is long, complex and (to be frank) convoluted. It is probably best told over time using actual music and stories, which turns out to be the point of the Peace Jungle metaphor. Imagine planting a lively and thriving forest or jungle full of good metaphors that grow like good trees with roots firmly planted in the Earth, and with branches that reach into the heavens and bear fruit at all times. Adapting and sharing such sacred, and one hopes inspirational, metaphors from many diverse sources is what I do. Doing so constitutes the source of my Boundless Gratitude, the purpose of my Peace Jungle, and yes, the madness of Hajb the Mad Poet.

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