Vegetarian Elite
 
Love Prevails: Kashif Saleem, Grammy-nominated Musician & Humanitarian      
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I’ve been playing music most of my life, and the thing that inspires me is when I see other people that are moved by the music, moved by the lyrics and that, it contributes, maybe just a little bit of happiness, a little bit of soul into their lives, and so it keeps me doing it, 39 years now.

Blessed with an abundance of musical talent, our featured guest today is an artist of extraordinary depth and deep compassion. A much loved and widely respected veteran of the music industry, his inspirational lyrics, soothing vocals, and soul-stirring instrumentals have reached out to touch the hearts of many.

Can you tell us what the name Kashif Saleem means?

Sure. Kashif is an Arabic name. It means “Discoverer” and “Inventer.” And in Yiddish it means a “Matchmaker.” And Saleem means “One who comes in peace”.

Wow, so that fits you perfectly – as the inventor of music and one who comes in peace and love.

I hope so. I try.

Gracious viewers, on today’s episode of Vegetarian Elite, we are proud to present musician and humanitarian – Kashif.

I think that love is in everyone. But I do think that as a seed it needs to be nurtured, watered, and fertilized so that it can grow properly and blossom beyond your own being so you can share it with other people. I think that God, if you will, the universe, whatever resonates with you, said, “We’re going to not give Kashif parents. But what we are going to do, we’re going to sprinkle a whole lot of music stuff on him, let’s get out the music dust and sprinkle on him.”

Kashif first came to musical prominence as a 15-year-old playing keyboards in the renowned funk band B.T. Express. His solo career flourished not long after with the release in 1983 of his self-titled album “Kashif” with Arista Records, containing his own compositions – many of which were written during his high school days. This debut album established Kashif as an artistic innovator willing to experiment with exciting new sounds and rhythms. It included hits such as “Stone Love,” “Help Yourself to My Love,” and “Say Something Love.”

The thing I remember about that album was that I recorded with such freedom. We did everything, recorded, on some songs I’m playing garbage cans, and others I’m doing vocal percussion – it was a lot of freedom there and I didn’t feel much pressure. That was the thing about that album that I remember the most.

And of course more success followed after that. What were some of your favorite albums or pieces or memories of performing?

I have a picture on my wall at home that says Ashford and Simpson and Kashif, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. That’s one of my fondest memories, and you know why? My junior high school teacher, his name was Robert Webbler. The guy who used to come to my house and drag me to school at six o’clock in the morning. I’m on stage, I walk on stage at Radio Music City Hall and the crowd is about to go I’m the new guy on the block. And I walk out to center stage and there sitting in the very front row was my junior high school music teacher, my musical mentor. He sat there and cried for the whole show.

That is a very strong memory for me because I think it was at that moment that I realized that I had arrived, so to speak. Because there he was representing my very humble beginning of the music and cultivation, and there I was on stage at one of the most famous venues in the world. And that was a really cool time, it was.

As a six-time Grammy Award-nominated songwriter and producer with a career spanning four decades, Kashif has collaborated with some of the greatest in the music industry, including Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Kenny G, Janet Jackson, Dionne Warwick, George Benson, and Barry White. He has received Grammy nominations for songs such as “Call Me Tonight,” “Edgartown Groove” featuring Al Jarreau, and “The Movie Song.” We asked Kashif to share with us some of his memorable moments in working with the legends of the music world.

The thing about being a producer and songwriter is that I feel like I’m always growing. Every time I walk into the studio with an artist, I learn something new, and that’s really ironic because they come in thinking I know everything. So I got a great big secret, I guess up until now – I learn something new. Whitney Houston, she comes into the studio. She’s not made any records before, and we put the song on, let her listen to it for one time. We give her the lyrics sheet and we say go out into the studio, step in front of the microphone, and just practice it a few times.

When you look through the glass, when the singer looks through the glass of the recording studio, they often times can see the recorder, and they can see whether the red light is on or not. So I had an assistant stand in front of the machine so she couldn’t see the red light, so I said, “Okay Whitney, we’re getting ready to start just rehearse it a couple of times, we’re not going to record.” And I said, “Are you ready?” She says, “Yes, I’m ready.” So engineer press play, I said press record. That 90% of what you hear on that record “You Give Good Love” is Whitney singing that song for the first time.

And so what I learned from that is that often times when the singer’s most relaxed and they don’t think anybody’s listening or paying any attention, they can do their best work. It’s when they feel like they’re under that looking glass that sometimes they get a little tense.

Kashif is well respected and admired for his spirit of generosity towards others in the music industry. He has openly shared his expertise in the industry to help other artists become successful. In 1995 he authored a book entitled “Everything You’d Better Know About the Record Industry” as the chief executive officer of his own Los Angeles-based company, “Brooklyn Boy Books, Entertainment, and Information.”

And in 1994, on the invitation of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension program, he created a course called “Contemporary Record Production with Kashif.” Besides his great passion for music, it would seem that love, and a willingness to be of service to others, is the overwhelming motivating force behind Kashif’s professional and charitable undertakings.

People often ask me how come most of my songs have “Love” in the title – “Love Come Down,” “I’m in Love,” “Back to Love,” “Stone Love” – all of these titles have “Love.” And I had to ask myself, and this is the answer that I came up with: that everything in life that we experience and all energy that we bring to every situation emanates from love.

Think about it. Wanting love, needing love, love lost, chasing love, jealousy, fear is the lack, all comes from love. So, anger is the fear that someone doesn’t love in the way that you would hope they would. Fear is not a pure emotion, it’s an outlook of anger and an outlook of not having the love, or afraid that you don’t have the love that you require at that time. Love is the absence of fear. Ultimately, I want musicians, singers, songwriter, producers, and music entrepreneurs to make music that supports the love process.

Nowadays, and I feel that it has been going on for a very long time, commercial musicians make music to make money, and that’s not what music is about. And so ultimately I want people to feel strong enough and independent enough to make the music that is indigenous to who they are, and that music supports the love process. And when you support the love process music does its rightful job. It transcends all the boundaries – language boundaries, ethnic boundaries, anything – put a good piece of music on and it does it. You don’t even have to understand the language.

Do you think that this essence of love, this theme of love that you’re putting out through your music, is this what’s really attracting people and getting people excited about your music?

Yeah, definitely. I definitely think, and I hear this all the time from my fans, and God bless them, they’ve been here a long time, and yeah people love, they feel the music, it makes them happy, and then that makes me happy.

On the occasion of Supreme Master Television’s 4th Anniversary Concert, Kashif was invited to be a part of the stellar cast of vocalists for a song titled “Let’s Love,” that was adapted from Supreme Master Ching Hai’s poem written in her youth. Applying his skills as a Grammy-nominated producer, Kashif also served as the music director for the heart touching song, which became the finale of the celebration.

“Just pass me by…” So you lean into the microphone just a little bit, (Okay, got you.) so we can hear what’s happening with your mouth. (Okay.) All right, here we go, let’s try again.

If you, brother, just pass me by
Not even once make contact our eyes

Yeah, yeah. It’s a very powerful technique. You know from being a stage performer that once you start speaking really low… People go, “What did she…?” They don’t want to miss anything. I can make that louder, but I thought the performance was really good. (Yeah.)

You and I, one identical life:
Let’s embrace and share all the joys,

Let’s gift peace to each other.

That’s it, let’s get the “to each other.”

to each other.

I can’t believe you followed me with the vibrato. Did you know that’s what I was doing?

Let’s love each other

Oh, that was nice, oh, that was nice.

“Gifting Peace,” the theme of today’s concert, was inspired by Supreme Master Ching Hai’s poem “Let’s Love.” Though it was written many years ago, it conveys a timely message of hope and encouragement.

Set to music by the renowned Mr. Al Kasha, the song “Let’s Love” will be performed by a dazzling constellation of artists. Returning to the stage are Ms. Liz Callaway, Ms. Melissa Manchester, Ms. Melba Moore, and Ms. Karen Ziemba. And they will be joined by Mr. Kashif and Ms. Leah Allers.

Mr. Kashif is a famed musician (And a friend of mine!) and a friend of John’s and a legendary record producer whose work has been recognized by Grammy nominations and a constant demand from prominent artists as a writer and producer. He’s sold over 70 million records!

He’s a friend of mine! Did I tell you that?

Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy "Let's Love."

“Let’s Love”
You and I, one identical life:
Let’s embrace and share all the joys,
Uplifting ourselves in times of need
Sailing together through bitter and sweet.

Let’s love each other
The rainy season fresh and cooling
River waters, sweet nectar
Nourishing love amongst human beings
Let’s live just for each other
Let’s live on for our future.
Let’s build Eden on Earth.
Let’s gift peace to each other.

If you, brother, just pass me by
Not even once make contact our eyes
Tomorrow we might from this world depart
Both will feel reluctant – the hour of goodbye

Let’s love each other
The rainy season fresh and cooling
River waters, sweet nectar
Nourishing love amongst human beings
Let’s live just for each other
Let’s live on for our future.
Let’s build Eden on Earth.
Let’s gift peace to each other.

For love is complete and perfect.
The love of Earth and Heaven.
The love of humans.

Let’s love each other
The rainy season fresh and cooling
River waters, sweet nectar
Nourishing love amongst human beings
Let’s live just for each other
Let’s live on for our future.
Let’s build Eden on Earth.
Let’s gift peace to each other.

You and I, one identical life:
Let’s embrace and share all the joys,
Uplifting ourselves in times of need
Sailing together through bitter and sweet.

Let’s love each other
The rainy season fresh and cooling
River waters, sweet nectar
Nourishing love amongst human beings
Let’s live just for each other
Let’s live on for our future.
Let’s build Eden on Earth.
Let’s gift peace to each other

Let’s love each other
The rainy season fresh and cooling
River waters, sweet nectar
Nourishing love amongst human beings
Let’s live just for each other
Let’s live on for our future.
Let’s build Eden on Earth.
Let’s gift peace to each other
Let’s gift peace to each other Let’s love.

A devout Muslim who respects all life, Kashif practices the vegan lifestyle, and has even inspired his personal assistant James to do the same. He chose the compassionate, plant-based diet for several reasons, including spiritual growth, environmental concerns, food and energy conservation issues, and as a means to more fully participate in and promote a peace-loving way of life.

Well, I just became a vegan, so I’m still evolving into that whole existence and the challenges that I faced in the beginning. Just trying to find the simple meal was pretty big because the basic American diet, everything revolves around the meat protein that they put in your plates. And I’m a big guy, so I want some food that gives me some of that emotional satisfaction. And when you’re first a vegetarian, or you are first a vegan, you have to learn that.

But for me, being a vegan represents a couple of things. It represents [for] me, I think becoming more in tune with the universal law that says treat all other beings the way you would want to be treated. I’m always being very conscious, very sort of like an Earth child. I don’t kill bugs. I’ll put it on a tissue you know, let it fly away outside. My friends tease me but I don’t care. But it helped me get refocused about that part of my life and how important the spiritual aspect of my life is to what my ultimate goals are, and the things I get involved with.

Aside from music, what does Kashif love speaking about most? How does veganism support his faith and spirituality? What role does his painful past have in his heartfelt endeavors with the charitable iCare Foundation? Please join us next week, April 30, for the second part of our show on inspirational musician and children’s champion, Kashif.

Thank you gracious viewers for your company today on Vegetarian Elite. Coming up next is Between Master and Disciples, here on Supreme Master Television. May your day be graced with beauty, love, and splendor.
It’s always nice to receive the accolades and the awards for the music. But when I’m receiving an award of this work I’m doing with children in foster care, and youth in foster care, I got to honestly admit that it’s something a lot more special because I think it goes to the core of why we are all here on this planet. It’s to be of service to other people – people who are less fortunate, people who might need our help, people who may only need a gentle gesture or a smile; and those that need even more, that need families, that need loving, that need nurturing. There’s something very special about that for me.

Halo, soulful viewers, and welcome to Vegetarian Elite, here on Supreme Master Television. This week we continue our special feature on Grammy-nominated musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, and humanitarian, Kashif. The inspirational artist talks to us about his faith, his vegan lifestyle, and his charitable work with foster children.

Has your faith as a Muslim given you strength in your life and in your endeavours?

The truth of the matter is that moving from home to home to home I practiced different religions depending upon what the reality was in that home. (Yes.) Pentecostal, Baptist, Catholicism – went through all of those in the various homes.

And then when I got to B. T. Express, one of the leads of the band was a Muslim. I really looked up to him, his discipline, how he carried himself. He gave me a book of Islamic names and I looked in the book and found the name, Kashif Saleem, and that is how I became Kashif Saleem. My spiritual life is essential to all of my actions, subconsciously and consciously. I try to walk a path that is reflective of what I learned from being involved with all those spiritual practices.

On the first part of our program, Kashif shared with us his recent journey to becoming vegan.

So do you feel that by removing the flesh and the by-products of dead animals from your diet, and that has enabled you to focus more on your spiritual growth?

Absolutely. Absolutely, because part of the spiritual growth has to do with your physiological existence. And the more in tune you are with that, the more potential that you can grow spiritually. It’s hard to grow spiritually if you’re in pain and if you’re in discomfort. Not impossible, but one tends to focus on the physical discomforts rather than the lofty aspirations of spiritual growth. So yes!

And also knowing that eating animal products and the processing of animal products and how it pollutes the Earth is important to me. Because we only have one Earth, and if we don’t respect the Earth, then we’ll have less and less, and less and less. Then we won’t have one that can support life in the way that we desire.

Do you think that there are benefits to following a vegan lifestyle on a wider scale, perhaps on a planetary scale and for a wiser humanity?

Absolutely. When you think about it, the amount of the food that we grow and distribute to feed animals, why couldn’t that food be going to feed kids in Darfur? Why couldn’t it be going to the people of Haiti? Why couldn’t that energy that we use to grow this food, feed the animals and transport the animals and transport the meat after they’ve been slaughtered – why couldn’t that energy have been used to help the people in Katrina, sooner? So when you think about it, how efficiently are we really running the planet and how efficient are we being at taking care of one another?

Widely respected for his work with children, Kashif has enriched countless lives and has earned accolades and recognition for his selfless dedication and willingness to wholeheartedly share the fruits of his success and God-given talents to help those less fortunate. His own early childhood experiences play a vital role in shaping his philosophy of service and charitable interests.

Placed into foster care at the tender age of four months, Kashif grew up never knowing his real parents, in eight different foster homes in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Having experienced first-hand the difficulties of a childhood spent in the foster care system, he is now devoted to ensuring that these children have the nurturing support and opportunities they need to flourish and prosper with purpose and direction in their lives. We asked Kashif to tell us about his work with his founded charity “Team iCare.”

Yeah, that’s my favorite subject. Team iCare is a foundation where we advocate the children in foster care. We’ve been around formally since 2006, but myself and a group of my friends, we’ve been doing this work probably for about 28 years now. Our mission and my mission in life is I like to call my dharma, Eastern philosophy, what I was put on this world, on this planet to do, is to make sure that every child has a loving home.

In America, every day there are 524,000 youth who are accessing the foster care system. That means that these children don’t have their biological parents. They’ve been removed from their homes for various reasons. And if you imagine that life, it’s one fraught with uncertainty and danger, and some kids by the age 15 maybe have experienced 15 or 20, and 25 homes. And so we do a number of things.

We do the Walk for Foster Care at the Rose Bowl Stadium, and our goal with that event is to recruit our new foster parents, new mentors, and new adoptive parents. We’re very happy doing that, and it’s a very exciting event. The next thing that we do every year is called our Mentorship Dinner Cruise. We take 200 kids and youth in foster on a cruise with 175 business men and women from various industries, and those professionals become mentors to these young people and help them find a forward motion, a forward inertia in their lives.

Just recently we opened Kashif University, which is a summer camp and an after school program of enrichment activities. So we offer music, dance, basketball, yoga, martial arts, culinary arts program, graphic arts, literary arts, reading, writing, and math to youth who are in foster care. If you ask me specifically what my life’s goal is, that’s it right there – Kashif University. Because as an after school program we get these kids 40 weeks out of the year, and kids get to come back year after year after year.

So there is some positive modeling in their lives and a place that they can go all the time, no matter if they’re moving from home to home to home, this is one thing that they can have in common that can help them migrate that path to being a contributing, law abiding, and positive citizen. So that’s my life’s dream.

At a recent fundraising performance hosted by the Children’s Trust Fund and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Kashif joined with friends and performers in entertaining the audience with a moving rendition of “We are the World” before humbly accepting an award for his leadership and services to foster children. The award was presented by event sponsor and passionate advocate for the children of Los Angeles County, Supervisor Mr. Michael Antonovich.

They dominated the R&B charts, selling over 70 million records worldwide. He has produced successful smash hits for Whitney Houston, Kenny G, George Benson, and Barry White, just to mention a few. But his greatest accomplishment, and the one closest to his heart, is being the CEO and founder of “I Care,” a non-profit committed to changing the image of foster care and improving the quality and life for these children so they do have an opportunity to be successful. He’s been a mentor to countless foster children, and served as a spokesman for the Casey Family Programs, and so let us present a proclamation to him for his leadership at this time.

Halo, wonderful people. (Halo.) Halo, wonderful people! (Halo!) It’s really an honor and it’s very humbling for me to stand before you tonight and being honored by Michael Antonovich, Trish Ploehn, Maria Melton, and all the wonderful people that DCFS who work really hard to make sure that America’s most vulnerable children have a chance at normalcy, have a chance to grow up, and lead contributing citizens lives. That’s really important to me.

And I know firsthand what it means to feel invisible. I know firsthand what it feels like to not belong to anyone, or anywhere. I really do know how that feels, and so that’s my motivation, that’s my passion. I feel like God put me on this planet, he gave me all of these talents and all of these things that I know how to do and I’ve won all types of awards and made all types of money and wonderful things have happened.

But nothing compares to the passion that I have for this work that I do for youth and foster care, America’s most vulnerable youth. I’m here to tell you that that is the true path to happiness. And so here are my young people, we came up with a name for this group of young people. We’re calling it “Kashif Featuring…” What are we calling it? “The League of Unforgotten Children.”

Put your hands together for “The League of Unforgotten Children.” So, here is that song that we wrote, I’m so excited.

Paint a picture in your head
A life could be Hungry everyday
Never have enough to eat
I wish for change But change never comes
I pray to God He sends someone
I wish that you could understand
And you could see that so much pain and grief lives inside of me
I’m on a journey Not sure where I’m going
But I know that I’m going to show them

I’m gonna be somebody I’m gonna make it someday
Spread my wings and get higher and higher
I’m gonna be somebody I’m gonna make it someday
Spread my wings and get higher and higher

Pictures in my head For you to recognize the vision
Struggle when happiness is going at a collision
Try to tell my friends, But none of them ever listen
Have money but love is clearly what I’m missing
Family aim low and I’m trying to aim higher
Road of my life I just hope that I’m the driver
Honestly I think I’m in the back Just relaxing
Because all that’s in my head is Lights, camera, action
Could this be my passion
Don’t tell me, I’m just asking
Do I keep the faith, and if struggle keep on clapping I work hard
But pain is what I’m earning
And I’m trying to teach the kids
I’m the one that needs to learn

I’m gonna be somebody I’m gonna make it someday
Spread my wings and get higher and higher
I’m gonna be somebody I’m gonna make it someday
Spread my wings and get higher and higher

Painted pictures in my head Now you can see
I’m on my ground Heading for my destiny
I pray for change The change did come
I’m finding out I’ve always been someone
I hope that you could understand me
When I say I got my doubters I do things my way
I’m on my journey I know where I’m going
Don’t matter haters ‘Cause I’m going to show them
I’m gonna be somebody I’m gonna make it some day
Spread my wings and get higher and higher

I’m lucky too, because when I go to bed at night, I feel like I live such an abundant existence, and it’s not because of the money that I earn or the cars I drive or the house I live in. It’s really about going to sleep and just smiling about these kids who when I first meet them, some of them are very withdrawn, very angry and they won’t communicate. And then within two or three days of going through our programs they’re chasing me down a hall. “Come here Kashif, I need a hug!” You know, that to me represents the true abundance of my universe because that’s all that really matters for me.

Kashif, you are a blessing indeed not only for the musical gifts and creativity you have offered us, but also for the inspiration you give to all who aspire to live their dreams to the fullest and fulfill their highest mission in life. May your music career and charitable works prosper with ever-greater success to bring more smiles of warmth and happiness.

Thank you cordial viewers for your company today on Vegetarian Elite.

That concludes our two-part series on big-hearted vegan singer-songwriter and musician extraordinaire, Kashif. Coming up next is Between Master and Disciples. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television. May your day be blessed with Heavenly joy and Divine love.



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