A Call for Unity Performers

Carl K Naluai Jr., Mark K. Sheldon and Dr. Guylene Gigi Tree
Representing the Sacramento Jewish Community are Cantor Carl K. Naluai Jr., from Reform Congregation B’nai Israel in the south area, and Ba’al Tokea Mark K. Sheldon and Dr. Guylene Gigi Tree, from Reform Congregation Beth Shalom in Carmichael. The composition written by Cantor Naluai uses the biblical text Psalm XXIII. The opening and closing sounds are expressed on the shofar, which is an ancient instrument made from the horn of an animal, dating back over 5,000 years. As described by Carl, the work begins with the haunting sound of the horn, as if heard in the distance. In response, the tenor voice chants the comforting verses of the 23rd Psalm in Hebrew. As the concluding words are chanted, the shofar once again echoes into infinity l’dor v’dor, meaning “from generation to generation.”

Antioch Progressive Church Mass Choir
The Antioch Progressive Church Mass Choir performs during church the first Sunday of each month. The church is proud of their congregation and its choir; having opened their doors with only 55 members, they now minister to a congregation of approximately 1,000 individuals. The choir consists of about 50 members of the congregation, and each month their performance is eagerly anticipated. Although the church has several choirs, the Mass Choir performs at many events throughout the year, showcasing the talent within the church to those who will listen. They are known for being uplifting, and talented, singing contemporary gospel music. For this event, the choir is under the direction of Reggie Graham, Minister of Music at Antioch Progressive Baptist Church, music professor and recording artist.

Mary Youngblood and the Sisters of the Earth
Mary Youngblood is a talented modern Native American woman with an equal mix of Aleut and Seminole lineage. Although she has had a lifetime of experience with classical instruments, including the violin, piano, guitar and classical flute, Mary found her true calling in the heritage and expression of the wooden Native American flute.

Mary, a 2002 Grammy Award winner, is accompanied by the Sisters of the Earth, a newly formed ensemble featuring Beatriz Muniz on percussion and Joell Sweeny on guitar. Their vocal contribution polishes off the haunting melodies of Mary’s instrument. As Mary humbly states, “I am simply a vessel between the Creator and this sacred instrument, the Native American Flute.”

Quetzalcoatl Caitlali Aztec Dancers
Danza Mexica (pronounced me-shee-ka), is the dance of the Mexica people and originated from the Valley of Mexico. Today, Danza Mexica continues to play a central part in the lives of dancers who inherited the tradition from various families and communities. This custom has preserved a spiritual knowledge, in addition to having conserved an essence of identity despite years of colonization. With a philosophical focus upon relationships to the earth, universe, and spiritual world, the Mexica dance tradition continues to educate, empower, and heal descendants of Mexican indigenous groups residing north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Although the faces have changed over the years, Quetzalcoatl Caitlali as a group has been conserving and sharing the Mexica heritage in the Sacramento area for over forty years. They uphold the spiritual traditions of their culture by performing Danza Mexica, also referred to as pre-Columbian or Aztec dancing, dating back to a period long before the arrival of the Spanish on American soil.

Reconciliation Singers Voices of Peace
Reconciliation Singers Voices of Peace (RSVP) was founded in 2000 by Artistic Director Julie Adams. The clear purpose of the group is to bring people together through the arts in order to give back to the community. Since its founding, RSVP has joined with youth choirs, adult choirs, storytellers, authors and other musicians to present concerts of the highest musical caliber. These concerts support programs aiding the elderly, abused, neglected, hungry, poor, illiterate and homeless. By sharing their creative, thoughtful and artistic ideas, RSVP is not only serving our community today, but building a foundation for future philanthropy through the arts.

The members of RSVP are university-trained musicians with a wide variety of backgrounds. In addition to their work with RSVP, many are award-winning musicians, music professionals and choir directors. Members represent a myriad of different beliefs and faith groups, among them Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Unitarian and Latter-Day Saints.

Scientology Choir and Interfaith Friends
The Scientology Choir of Sacramento was created in 1999, with the idea of using music to promote the message of peace and understanding among the ethnically and culturally diverse groups in our community. Inspired by this mission, Desmonde Linda Michaela, the music director, wrote music that allowed the choir to reach out to the community for many years. In this last year, with both Desmonde and Jan Wong Hall, executive director and events coordinator, the Scientology Choir and Interfaith Friends joined together to form the Women’s Interfaith Network Choir. They extended the message of peace and understanding by performing for the International Day of Peace, the 7th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner, and the Interfaith Musicale. During A Call for Unity, Scientologists and interfaith friends join together to create music in celebration of our common desire to have peace and understanding in a fair and free world.

Imam Mohammed Abdul Azeez
Imam M. A. Azeez is the religious leader for the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) Islamic Center. Imam Azeez has an educational background in medicine, political science, sociology, Islamic history and Islamic theology. He holds a medical degree from Ain Shams University, a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio State University.

Imam Azeez has been involved in Islamic activism and education for the past 10 years. He has worked with and taught Islam at numerous institutions, from the Midwest to the West Coast. Imam Azeez is a passionate advocate of interfaith work, and dedicates much of his time educating the community about the true peaceful essence of the religion of Islam. In his capacity as the Imam of SALAM, he is a member of the Sacramento Interfaith Service Bureau, and participates in most inter-religious dialogue in the area. Imam Azeez is married to Kauthar Fattouh, of Ottawa, Canada, and has one daughter, Zeyneb.

Bharatanatyam dancers Palavi Gopal, Dipika Gopal & Amutha Valli Rajagopal
While cultivating modern educational interests at UC Davis or UC San Diego, Palavi Gopal, Dipika Gopal, and Amutha Valli Rajagopal have also maintained throughout their lives a strong sense of traditional interests. Each of them has studied East Indian classical dancing, known as Bharatanatyam, for over 35 years collectively. They continue their studies at the Kalanjali School of Dance in Sacramento. Today’s performance, “Malari,” is an invocation dance consisting of rhythmic patterns set to an eight-beat cycle. This introductory piece leads into a devotional song entitled “Vaishnavjana tho,” which was written five centuries ago by Indian poet Narsi Mehta. It was a favorite hymn of Mahatma Gandhi. In this poem, Narsi extols the virtues of an ideal human being as one who understands and relieves others’ suffering. A true human being is one who speaks no evil against others and maintains steadfastness of the spoken word, deed, and thought. He or she is free of greed and deceit and has conquered lust and anger. Such a person will attain salvation for generations to come.

Spiritual Life Center Choir
Spiritual Life Center, an interfaith unity ministry, honors the many paths to God and helps people of all faiths apply positive spiritual principles in their daily lives. The group is a nonauditioned choir which offers everyone a chance to participate in the joy of singing and provides a unique sense of family to its members. Their motto is, “There are no good voices or bad voices; there is only one voice—God’s voice.” The vision that all are welcome has created a group of about 80 people to use their voices and music as vehicles to connect with God, to create community and to empower people. The Spiritual Life Center Choir was recognized as one of the top three groups on the Best of Sacramento church choir list for both 2003 and 2004.