A New Life—A New Song

September 2009

Daniel Nahmod

Daniel Nahmod speaks on power of prayer, power of music, and finding peace


Singer/songwriter Daniel Nahmod shares his message of peace, love and compassion with audiences around the world.

For your free digital download of “Last Song,” click here.

“Last Song” words and music by Daniel Nahmod, © Nahmod Music Co. (ASCAP) from the CD ‘Water’ by Daniel Nahmod (Humanity Music Co.) available at www.DanielNahmod.com

Listen to Daniel interviewed on the Unity Online Radio program PosiPalooza: Music that Matters with Richard Mekdeci.

A little more than ten years ago, I experienced an awakening. Day after day, I had sat at my desk at my computer programming job, more or less pretending to work. I realized the life I was living was a life I no longer wanted to live.

I decided to move from Chicago to Los Angeles, and in 1998, I began my new life as a singer/songwriter. Soon after I arrived, I volunteered at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with my guitar, singing for patients, nurses and administrators. I sang for people in comas and watched as they moved to the rhythm of the music. Elderly patients would hum along to familiar songs.

I’ve always enjoyed making music to uplift. I come from a family that suffered terribly in the Holocaust. So it’s no accident that the intention of my music is to heal divisions, hatreds and fears. I don’t claim that a song can change the world. But I’ve seen how the music and the message can make walls invisible for a few minutes at a time.

In 2005, just after Hurricane Katrina, I received a call from my friend, Rev. Richard Rogers, now of Unity of Naples Church in Florida. We talked about how we might be of help to the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

We met at the Houston airport and drove to the Houston Astrodome, where thousands of displaced people filled this gigantic building. They were people without homes to go to, without a job to report to, without a structure to their lives. Richard walked the floor shaking hands, hugging people, offering comfort. I played my guitar and sang songs during two of the most intense and profoundly heartbreaking days I have ever experienced.

The fear and absolute bewilderment were palpable. As I walked from cot to cot, in the middle of the most chaotic, disruptive, disturbing scene I’d ever witnessed, I stopped frequently to talk with individuals. I came to one elderly woman sitting on her cot, holding her head in her hands. A little girl, her granddaughter, was sitting by her.

I asked this woman, “Would you like to hear a song?” She waved her hands in the air as if to say, “whatever.” I sat down next to her and asked, “Would you do me a favor? I think you’re going to know this song. Close your eyes and sing it with me.”

I started playing “What a Wonderful World,” and she began to sing ever so quietly with me. Her eyes were closed and so were her granddaughter’s. I closed my eyes as well, and for four minutes or so there was no Astrodome, no despair, no Katrina. There was just the beauty of that song. We were lifted up and transported—not physically, but emotionally and spiritually—to the safest place imaginable.

In those few moments, the work of my life gained greater clarity. I’m aware that when I sing a song, whether it’s in a hospital room or a large auditorium, for four or five minutes I am sharing a vision. It’s a feeling, an instinct and hopefully a wisdom. It’s a drop of consciousness—a safe space.

As a musician, I don’t believe it’s my responsibility to change the world or even to change the person in front of me. My responsibility is simply to dig as deep as I can, feel as authentically as I can and share my consciousness. Singing has become a way I pray. There is a place I go when I’m singing, a place where I feel every word as a vibration or energy or consciousness, a place of real peace and love.

I feel blessed that I can share with others by singing and writing songs. Yet I know if I were only to have sung “What a Wonderful World” with the woman and her granddaughter at the Astrodome, just that song, that would have been enough for a lifetime.

There are artists who sell more CDs in a week than I have in 10 years. What’s important to me is to live well and do good work. The lyrics of one of my songs, “Last Song,” state it this way: Is the world a little more peaceful? Are oceans and sky a little more blue? Is humankind a little bit wiser about the good we can do? Does the sun shine a little bit brighter where before there was only rain? If so, then I’m glad I came.