Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

abstract artistic rendering of music bringing people together

Creating a New American Muslim Tradition: A Celebrative Music Event from the Muslim Musical Mosaic Project

After hosting a series of music-focused “salons” with members of the Muslim American community in Los Angeles in the winter and spring of 2024, Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) is hosting a free celebratory event of their first phase of work on their Muslim Musical Mosaic Project, set for June 30, 2024, at the Cat’s Crawl Theater in Los Angeles.  

Supported by a fall 2023 Humanities for All Project Grant to MPV, Muslim Musical Mosaic Project aims to explore the role of music in the life of Muslim communities in LA and across the nation, and how Muslim Americans understand and interpret their traditions in the musical work they create, produce, and listen to.  

Woman wearing a black tshirt sits in a chair with laptop in her lap, tv screen (blank) behind hher.
Two people on Zoom on a laptop screen
A man wearing silver headphones sits in a chair holding a large shallow drum instrument close to his face.

Clockwise from top left: Aiman Khan, Tazeen Ayub and Ismaeel (LuFuki), and Alfred Madian.

The project began by convening a group of local scholars, cultural producers, activists, musicians, and nonprofit representatives who would bring various perspectives and insights. According to project director Ani Zonneveld, president of MPV and a musician and producer, “this diverse demographic background and musical experience was paramount to the project,” so that it would “reflect the very diverse demographic makeup representative of American Muslims.” 

The Mosaic Cohort | Featured speakers and performers on June 30: 

Alfred Madain is a musicologist and a multi-instrumentalist specializing in Nubian and Sufi musical traditions.  

Ismaeel (LuFuki’s) is a composer, guitarist, historian, and cultural curator based in Detroit who views music as a spiritual practice that brings about healing and unity and whose artistic practice centers around Black ancestral legacy.  

Farah Mitha is a pop singer, songwriter and producer of South Asian heritage whose productions have earned her a diversity of performing awards. 

Tazeen Ayub is an educator, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, curator, and community organizer. Using her voice and instrumentation (guitar, Bansuri flute, and swarmandal), she blends afro-indo sounds, while weaving elements from jazz, funk, soul, Sufi chants, and Indian classical music. 

Aiman Khan is an experienced and versatile musician and performer, whose main instrument is the french horn and whose work spans many genres and mediums. 

Ani Zonneveld is a singer/songwriter/producer as well as the founder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values. With more than 20 years in the music business, she is a Grammy certified songwriter and a cultural innovator. 

Dr. Mark Levine is a Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the School of Humanities at University of California, Irvine, and serves as the humanities advisor for this project.  

Zonneveld also shared how the Mosaic cohort defined the need for a new musical tradition: 

“As a cohort, there was an agreement that despite the very rich musical history from our respective heritages, what was lacking is “that next thing”, a uniquely American Muslim musical tradition. We also agreed that some of the common denominators of our musical heritage were percussion, the maqam scale (Eastern scale), and a call-answer structure.” 

The public event on June 30 will anchor the rich conversations held by the Mosaic cohort about Muslim American history and anthropology, with live performances as an illustration of that history as well as two new compositions: a blues rendition in Urdu and a modern rendition of the old gnawa music (Moroccan religious songs and rhythms combining ritual poetry with traditional music and dancing). 

Graphic for Cat's Crawl Theater

Performance details: 

Date/Time: 5 to 6:30 pm, June 30, 2024   

Location: The Cat’s Crawl Theater,
660 Heliotrope Drive Los Angeles, CA 90004 



Visit the Mosaic project page here

To learn more about Humanities for All Project Grants (and the program’s updated application process), visit California Humanities’ website


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