Do You Know The Bala Brothers?

bala long shotAlthough the Bala Brothers – Loyiso, Zwai and Phelo – are household words in South Africa, they’re not so familiar to American audiences. Until now.  This month, a new Warner Brothers CD release, a PBS documentary and a DVD will certainly bring this superbly talented trio of brothers into the US spotlight.  A US tour is scheduled for May 2015.

Who are the Brothers Bala? Here are the basics. Born into a poor household in the Kwa-Nobuhle township of apartheid South Africa, the family household was filled with music. Everyone in the family sang and the children’s parents met while participating in church choirs. The boys’ grandfather was a choral composer who saw the talent in the children and even asked Zwai to help with musical arrangements. By age ten, Zwai had his own choir and his stunningly beautiful voice won him a place in the then-segregated Drakensberg Boys Choir.

Although it was extremely difficult to be the first young black man in a high profile, all-white choir, Zwai, persisted and eventually made way not only for his 2 brothers but for a host of other talented singers to follow after him. Eventually, two of the brothers would form a group and then recruit the third. Finally in 2013, this beloved group would wow an audience of 55,000 when they performed a powerful concert tribute to Nelson Mandela in December of that year.

How can audiences in the USA experience the Bala Brothers? Their powerful music and personal saga is chronicled by the PBS special and the DVD (links below), but you can also purchase their latest cd which is a live recording of many of their most popular songs including “Circle of Life” (from Elton John’s score for The Lion King), Paul Simon’s “Under African Skies”, “Masibuyelane” (A love song in the Xhosa language) and the album’s centerpiece – a powerful anti-apartheid anthem entitled, “Something Inside So Strong”.

This short video is a great introduction to the latest release plus the powerful story of this majestic trio. Below, you can also see a full length video of “Something Inside So Strong” sung with the famous (now integrated) Drakensberg Boys Choir.

Links and Resources

Official Bala Brothers Website  

Purchase Links – Amazon, Itunes and Spotify



The “I Have A Dream” Song Shares MLK’s Message With Kids

MLK is one of my heroes.

Not only did he do the right thing.  But he did the right thing, under the toughest of circumstances and in the right way.  He overcame hatred with the transforming power of love.  He stared down ignorance with  understanding.   And he fought not only for a portion of the population, but for well-being of the entire world, demonstrating his concept of the beloved community.  To me, that’s incredibly inspirational.

But how do you share these huge ideas and big concepts with little ears and young listeners?  As a musician, I felt moved to write a song and try to put some of these concepts into the lyrics.   I hoped the song would be a singable way to talk about MLK’s dream as well as a good place to start conversations about these big ideas and what they might mean to our classrooms, families and communities as we move into a new era.

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the landmark “I Have A Dream Speech”,  we’ve offered the song as a free download as well as coloring pages that share powerful quotes from many of MLK’s inspirational speeches.

We hope that people use and enjoy these resources as they not only look back at this historic event – but dare to look forward and continue to dream!

The direct link to the download is:

You can also find DARIA’s free MLK coloring pages at TeachersPayTeachers site here:

Coloring Page With One Quote For Younger Children

Coloring Page With Many Quotes For Older Children

For more information, visit my site or contact me at daria at makemusicwithme dot com.  I’d love to hear from you!


Words and music by  Daria A. Marmaluk-Hajioannou

There’s a man I think you’ve heard of

His name is Martin Luther King

He wanted a world of peace and love

He said “I have a dream”

Chorus:  I have a dream, I have a dream

I’ve been to the mountaintop and I’ve seen…And, I have a dream


He said: “I know that this is possible

I know that this can be

If each one can learn to live with love

Then we can all be free”


If you share this vision

You know it’s not a difficult thing

We can build a world of peace and love

And we can all be queens and “kings”



Celebrating A Baha’i Holiday -The Birth of Baha’u’llah – With Songs and Crafts

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah - Alldonemonkey.comWe are grateful to Leanna from the blog “All Done Monkey” for sharing her thoughts, crafts and a wonderful song from her father that tell us about this special and meaningful holiday.


Every year on November 12, Baha’is around the world celebrate the anniversary of the birth of their religion’s Prophet Founder, Baha’u’llah. Often they gather together to say prayers, read together about His life, and of course – celebrate!

“Baha’u’llah” is an Arabic title that means the “Glory of God,” since Baha’is believe He is the latest in series of Divine Messengers that have taught humanity about God throughout history – Messengers such as Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, the Buddha, Christ, and Muhammad.

Baha’u’llah founded the Baha’i Faith, a major world religion based on the principles of the oneness of humanity, the equality of women and men, the essential harmony of science and religion, the need for spiritual solutions to economic problems, the divine origin of all religions, and the need for world peace.

Though many people of all faiths agree with these principles today, Baha’u’llah advocated them in a time and place in which they were completely alien. He was born in 1817 to a wealthy family in Persia (modern-day Iran) and was known throughout His life for His kindness and generosity. Because of His teachings, Baha’u’llah was stripped of His wealth, jailed in the region’s most notorious prisons, and exiled in tortuous conditions to Baghdad, Constantinople, Adrianople, and finally Akka/Acre (in modern-day Israel).

He died in 1892 and is buried in this final place of exile, which is today a site of pilgrimage for Baha’is all over the world. Nearby Haifa is now the location of the Baha’i international administrative center as well as beautiful gardens visited by thousands of tourists every year.

Every year on November 12, Baha’is gather to remember the remarkable life and Person of Baha’u’llah. It is a time of great celebration and joy. One of my favorite childhood memories of this holiday is of our family all gathered around the piano singing the following song while my mother played (scroll to the end for a video of my father singing this song!)

This song came from the book “Sing A New Song-Baha’i Songs for Children” published in 1968 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the USA. It seems this songbook is now out of print, though you can find some information about it on this hymnals website. (Unfortunately, the site doesn’t not include information about this song).

Do You Know What We Remember…?

Do you know what we remember, on the twelfth day of November?

We give thanks to the land of Ta [Teheran], for giving us Baha’u’llah!

Ring the bells and sound the horn!

This was the day when He was born! (Ding dong, ding dong!)

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah -

So this year to celebrate I decided to make bells with my little Monkey. Not only because of this song, but also because Baha’u’llah referred to Himself as the “Most Great Bell,” ringing out to announce the dawn of a new age for all humanity.

I also thought bells would be an easy symbol for my toddler to grasp, just as the stars we made for the Declaration of the Bab holiday in the spring.

So I pulled out my handy craft foam and got to work. First I made a template out of cardboard (does anyone else have a stash of empty cereals boxes sitting around for craft projects??) and used it to trace a dozen bells out of the craft foam.

Once they were cut out and ready to go, my little Monkey and I sat down to decorate. Suppressing my natural aversion to mess, I let him go crazy with the glitter glue. After all, if you aren’t festive and sparkly on a holiday, then when are you?

It was actually much less messy than I had anticipated. The main issue was that our aesthetics were very different. Namely, his consisted of wanting to squeeze all the glitter glue out in big piles, which I was sure would never dry. I did persuade him to then create designs out of these glops of glitter glue, so in the end we only ended up with one blotch that will be permanently wet.

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah -

Nevertheless, we were both pleased with the results. You’ll never guess which of us decorated which!

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah -

After they were (almost) all dry, I enlisted my husband’s help in stringing them up over our mantel, using some royal blue embroidery thread. My very handy husband reworked one of our corncob holders in order to make holes small enough for the thread.

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah -

I purposely hung the bells up out of my little Monkey’s reach, in the hopes that the bells will last at least until the holiday on November 12th. But I also saved out two just for him, which I taped to the wall above his table and which he is free to touch and play with as much as he wants. (And he has!)

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah -

And now for the video! Nothing says love like agreeing to sing a song on video for your daughter’s blog (or agreeing to tape your husband singing the video). Since I was unable to find any recordings of this song to share, I asked my father if he would do the honors for me. He agreed!

Many, many thanks to my dad for singing and my mom for doing the video! I know you will all enjoy this as much as I do! So without further ado, here is my father singing my childhood favorite for the holiday, “Do You Know What We Remember…?”

You can find All Done Monkey (Embracing The Magic In the Madness of Motherhood) at:

Celebrating The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King Day – With Music and the Arts

Winter holidays are over. 2011 is here. Now is a great time to begin a new year with inspiring ideas and exciting ideals of community-building and service. This year, the day to celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is January 17th and there are so many creative and artistic ways to enjoy and participate in this special day.

First the basics. How do you take MLK’s inspiring life complete with many complex issues and share that with kids? It’s great to start with some of the exceptional children’s books on the topic. One of my personal favorites is a beautifully illustrated book called Martin’s Big Words. There is also an exceptional book written by MLK’s sister: My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There are also wonderful picture books, “First Biographies” and even a “Blast From The Past“ paperback written along the line of the Magic Treehouse series. An exciting book on this topic can make this great life come alive for kids. (A list for young readers appears below.)

Since I am a musician, I always had the desire to take some of MLK’s favorite speeches and use the most popular quotes to write a simple, singable song. The result was my “I Have a Dream” song which I give away free each January. (mp3 downloads, lyrics and sheet music can be found here). I am proud to say this song is being used in schools and classrooms throughout the USA as a singable way to share the ideas that continue to inspire more and more new generations.

Also, since I love art and creativity; especially when working with children, this year I developed two mini-posters that are also free on my website. They show a sketch of MLK and a rainbow as a symbol of hope and to express my own appreciation that he worked for the dignity of people of all colors – not just the equality of one group of American. These posters have some of my favorite lines from famous speeches. One simply has the quote: “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” The other mini-poster shares more words of wisdom such as: “Life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” And “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” I encourage parents and teachers to let young people color the pictures and think about the quotes. What could those words mean in their homes, classroom and lives? These thoughts are amazing seeds to plant in young minds. You can check out the mini-posters on my monthly song page by clicking here.

And last of all, you can always get even more creative. What could you and your family or class dream up as service projects? What cooperative projects could you do to make your neighborhood or school a more beautiful and accepting place or to meet the needs of your community? Projects and activities can be as simple and fun as drawing pictures for local seniors, making a mural, collecting goods for those who need them or talking about bullying and what can be done to keep it from being a part of your school. Remember, as teachers and parents, your role as a leader can be so important in shaping children’s concepts of what it means to be a valued and valuable part of their community.

As kids grow up with media coverage of pop stars, rock stars and superstars hailed as “being great”, it is so refreshing to share with them the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. – someone who truly lived up to that description. And, in doing so, he helped us understand an unforgettable truth that can motivate us all for years to come: “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.”

Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou

Award-winning children’s performer, DARIA (Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou) has five cd’s that have won national honors. She has the most awesome job of traveling the world to sing for kids and peace. Her website; located at, was given a 2009 Parents Choice Award for its musical and cultural content.

(Friends, If you are reading this after these materials are no longer posted on my monthly website page, please contact me at and I will be happy to get them to you)

Books On Martin Luther King Jr. For Young Readers

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier (Authors)

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Picture Book Biography) [Paperback]
David A. Adler, (Author)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Ready-to-Read. Level 1) by Margaret McNamara and Mike Gordon

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Christine King Farris (Author), Chris Soentpiet (Illustrator)

The Story of Martin Luther King Jr.
Johnny Ray Moore and Amy Wummer (Authors)

Martin Luther King, Jr. (My First Biography) Marion Dane Bauer (Author)

King’s Courage (Blast to the Past)
Stacia Deutsch (Author), David Wenzel (Illustrator)