Brilliant Star and Red Grammer Celebrate with Families

Red Grammer invites kids and adults to sing and sign onstage. Photo by Amethel Parel-Sewell

“Hooray for the world, I’m glad to be on it!”

Red Grammer, a Grammy-nominated musician, led a lively audience in joyful song and dance at the Bahá’í House of Worship on October 14. The concert kicked off a book release party for Brilliant Star’s new publication, The Life of Bahá’u’lláh: A Treasury of Stories from Brilliant Star. The event in Wilmette, Illinois, was part of a nine-week Light of Unity Festival honoring the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh.

Red Grammer ignites the audience with enthusiasm. Photo by Amethel Parel-Sewell

Throughout the exhilarating concert, Grammer’s music celebrated cultural diversity, friendship, and unity. He engaged the audience, even teaching the crowd sign language to accompany some of his songs. He shared many favorites, including “I Think You’re Wonderful,” “See Me Beautiful,” and “Hello World!”  

A long-time supporter of Brilliant Star, Grammer told the audience, “The Brilliant Star magazine just wins award after award after award. It is, I would say, the most respected children’s publication from a religious organization, I think, probably in the country, if not the world.”

Grammer closed the concert with a tribute to Bahá’u’lláh, singing “On the Day You Were Born” in His honor. During the song, kids shined their Brilliant Star gift flashlights, representing lit candles on a birthday cake. In this moving finale, the audience sang as the lights danced on the dome of Foundation Hall.

Kayla Taylor, youth MC, welcomes participants. Photo by Nancy Wong 

The MC for the event was 18-year-old Kayla Taylor. She related her childhood memories of attending Red Grammer’s concert for Brilliant Star’s 35th anniversary in 2004, when she was just five years old. Taylor read the audience a story from The Life of Bahá’u’lláh while the story’s richly detailed art was projected.

C. Aaron Kreader, the main illustrator of the book, told kids, “When we make stuff at Brilliant Star, it’s not one person. It’s the whole staff. We all worked on this.” He explained, “Every morning . . . every member of the Brilliant Star gets up excited about you guys . . . You guys are our inspiration.”   

Aaron Kreader and Lisa Blecker connect with young artists. Photo by Nancy Wong 

After the concert, Kreader and Lisa Blecker created custom watercolor bookmarks for guests, who watched with awe. Kreader and Blecker also shared their excitement about the creative process and encouraged kids to express themselves with art.

​Guests mingled and enjoyed hospitality and fellowship at the Temple, catching up with old friends and making new ones.

Delicious food leads to friendly conversation. Photo by Nancy Wong 

Jean Fisher of Wisconsin said, “I bought three books and gave one of them to a 10-year-old girl that is in our junior youth group, and she was totally excited about the book and liked the fact [that] there [are] activities with the book!”

Leila Eady, who traveled from Iowa with her family, said the event was “a highlight of our family's experiences celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh . . . As soon as the Brilliant Star magazine arrives at our home, both kids and my husband cozy up in the sofa to read it together, so being part of the book release was very special.”

Sahba Sabet-Rasekh, Wilmer Pulido, and family drove all the way from Canada. Photo by Nancy Wong 

Wilmer Pulido and Sahba Sabet-Rasekh drove 20 hours from Ottawa, Canada, with their two kids and baby. When we asked why they drove so far, they said, “That’s what happens when you combine Red Grammer and Brilliant Star!”

Bahia E., age 10, said, “I loved how it was on the occasion of the bicentenary and that it was in the House of Worship. It made me feel connected to Bahá’u’lláh. My favorite memory is when I was hugging Red Grammer! I also loved all the beautiful music and events planned for the special occasion.”

“I loved it! It made me feel good, and sad for Bahá’u’lláh, because He had to go through a lot of harsh stuff in His life,” said Emma E., age 7.

The Brilliant Star crew and event volunteers: (back row) Amy Renshaw, Senior Editor; Amethel Parel-Sewell, Editor/Creative Director; Red Grammer; Kayla Taylor, MC; Lucia Pane, volunteer; Joyce Litoff, Communications Office; Syda Segovia Taylor, Bicentenary Task Force; (front row) Shoghi and Bayan Pulido; C. Aaron Kreader, Designer/Illustrator; Heidi Parsons, Associate Editor; Lisa Blecker, Freelance Arist/Writer. Photo by Nancy Wong 

Reflecting on the gathering, Red Grammer said, “The amazing staff that produces the Brilliant Star is made up of some of my favorite people in the world, so it was a real joy to be able to celebrate the bicentenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s birth AND the release of Brilliant Star’s delightful new book on Bahá’u’lláh’s life at the same time! To be able to sing and share the happiness at this wonderful occasion was truly a special gift for me.”

Order your copy of The Life of Bahá’u’lláh: A Treasury of Stories from Brilliant Star.

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