Women in the Arts 2019: Getting Biblical with Shadi Pourkashef

Shadi Pourkashef Photo.jpgThere are still nice people out there! We had the most pleasant conversation with film composer and conductor, Shadi Pourkashef about her new musical KING DAVID. Collaborating with Gary Morgenstein – a household name in the world of public relations and now as a distinguished playwright – Shadi composed music for six feature films, two short films, five title theme songs and dozens of works of children’s music, commercials, meditations, tv shows, game music and movie trailers. She is also the founder of called Ability Awareness Project, a nonprofit with a mission to build a united interconnected world free of bullying. She was voted the Best Activist of 2018 as the Goodwill Ambassador of World Kindness for the City of Laguna Beach, California. Like I said – there are still nice people out there. More about her at www.anami.co.

Meantime… Tell us why you wanted to write a musical about King David?

Shadi: I am so fortunate to work with Gary Morgenstein, who also believes: why stay inside of a self-created box when you can have so much fun getting outside the lines? I love all musical styles but also love mixing and matching different instrumentations in many forms. I love old ancient instruments and including them into the traditional orchestra while adding some unusual digital samples and loads of ethnic large percussions. All that said, the two songs that are released so far, one is done with a solo piano and the other is a rap! My suggestion is to bring your most open mind and ears and expect to be surprised!

I’m hearing that there are rap songs, disco tunes, as well as conventional Broadway fare. Tell us your thought-process on the score.

Shadi: Wouldn’t it be lovely to reveal this 3000-year-old ancient story in a language everyone can understand in the 21st century? We’re going for that and at times having a little too much fun with it! King Saul’s outrageous request for 100 foreskins urged me to go a bit over the top with the song “Foreskins” and I love the fact that my friend, Da’Jon James, also felt that vibe and actually contributed 32% to the lyrics. Gary Morgenstein’s brilliant writing elaborates on the complicated rich life of King David in such simple lighthearted but captivating language and my music is an extension of that.

Do you think this will make the Bible more accessible?

Shadi: King David’s story from the Bible will be more understood with this musical. There’s so much to learn from King David’s life. He had to fight many wars; some within himself and some out there in a war zone. I feel the more wars he won in the outside world, the bigger his ego became and ultimately made him lose the many wars he had to fight to be true to his spiritual path. It’s a fight we all go through in any century and this one is no exception. Greed, lust and ego among many other human qualities can distort our spiritual vision and cause us to divert from reaching our full potential. 

What are the challenges you face composing for the musical theater?

Shadi: Composing for this musical is incredibly enjoyable and gratifying for me since I’m so inspired and engrossed in the story. I begin every song meditating on the experience I’m writing for in the story. I want to stay true to that moment in time so I don’t give away a hint into the future of what happens next. That way the audience is experiencing King David’s life as it unfolded for him and can probably relate to his challenges and understand his actions and decisions.

Where do you hope the show goes? 

Shadi: We are giving life to the powerful story of King David and granting him the attention he deserves. I know it will inspire a lot of people and I hope his story continues to reach out to every corner of the world.

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A sample of the reverential irreverence of KING DAVID, the musical. 

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