Women In Music Honour Roll 2023 Recipient, Shumaila Hemani, Ph.D. Releases “Primordial Covenant” Dedicated To Peace And Justice

Recent Women in Music Canada Honour Roll recipient and Cultural Diversity Award Winner,Shumaila Hemani, Ph.D., releases a non-western art song: “Primordial Covenant” from her upcoming second album: Kashf (unveiling). Check it out on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Pl9iL8A3yI&feature=youtu.be

“Primordial Covenant” is based on Hemani’s poem that was published in Alberta’s literary feminist magazine: New Forum (2021) and nominated for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Poetry (2022). 

“Primordial Covenant is an anthem for trans-Cultural Canada, as it strives for greater equity, diversity, and inclusion while integrating the multiple beliefs and faith practices in its cultural life,” says Hemani.

Premiered at Arts Commons in early June as part of TD Incubator Cabaret, Calgary with James Watson accompanying on violin, this piece was again performed for the legendary international band, Sun Ra Arkestra at the United Church (2023) in Calgary in late June with Sujeev Chohan on tabla. Sled Island described her performing as taking the room “into a state of trance.”

This boundary-pushing musical composition is inspired by the Quranic story of the creation and the famous phrase, “Allastu bi Rabbikum” refers to the primordial covenant that the human soul made with the Creator before entering the human body. This Arabic phrase is referenced in Sufi poetry of South Asia, particularly in the Sindhi verses of the 18th-century poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, whose book of poetry, Shah jo Risalo is considered Quran in Sindhi by the Muslims and Gitaby the Hindus just as Rumi’s Masnavi is considered Quran in Pahlavi in Persia.

“I invite choirs and symphony orchestras across Europe and North America to perform this piece in solidarity with the Muslims and with the understanding that Quran and its enriched history have a central value for the Muslims and also have a sanctified place in a multi-cultural society.

Pushing boundaries of genres and traditions by drawing from Hindustani art music of khayal, the Middle Eastern melodic maqam: Hijaz and Western tradition for its chromatic chord structure, this art song is a response to the cataclysmic times of today that beg for a new language for composing art song to reinstate the role of music as a catalyst for social change. Listen on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/album/1glm8p1mfpuJh1z43KlLLI?si=9xqucOU0T0KGNX2-QKwIlQ&nd=1

Hemani was nominated in the Government of Alberta’s Artist Ambassador short-list and serves as an Artist in Residence at the International Center of Arts for Social Change (ICASC) and Trico Changemakers Studio (Mount Royal University). She is also an alumnus in Creative Climate Leadership (2023) and delivered the keynote address at the University of Hawaii’s Climate Change and South Asia conference (2023), a speaker at the first-ever Music Climate summit in Toronto (2022) by Music Declares Emergency and featured in CBC’s What on Earth and National Observer. Hemani is scheduled to perform for the Canadian oath-taking ceremony by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Canada in the Fall and for New Music Edmonton.