I'm the sand with drifting ears
I carry the dance of Eastern winds
Fashioning melodies of peace
I'm the rose with broken tears
These words define the essence of Tony Khalife - musician, singer, songwriter, composer, yogi, artist, teacher, child-soldier, messenger of love and peace.
Tony's mission is to raise the world’s vibration through music.....
...to be the rose growing among the ruins, the smile through the tears, and the melody of peace overpowering the guns of war.
He is transcendence through music.
Tony brings the gift of transcendence through music.
Blending a lifelong search for musical truth into all forms of world music, Tony weaves a seamless vibrational flow in which the drone and ragas of Indian music and the resonance of devotional Sufi dances meet Western harmonies to flow into the different pulses, melodies and expressions of all forms of music Tony has mastered.
With his newest release “The Farther Shore Of Light – Sanskrit Songs Of Devotion”, Khalife highlights his mastery as a devotional artist and multi-instrumentalist in a soul-stirring recording of ancient Vedic Mantras and Hymns.
A Child of War
Tony was born in Beirut, Lebanon in the spring of 1964. He knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a musician but the Civil War broke out when he was eleven years old, marking the end of his childhood. The boy left his books at school and was drafted into a local militia, learning to handle a gun instead of a guitar or an education. When gunmen stormed the Khalife home and beat his mother, the family was forced to leave and they hid in an underground room. In hiding, the young boy taught himself to play the guitar.
The music stayed with him. During the lulls in the fierce battle in the streets of Beirut, he played his guitar, using a songbook to teach himself Beatles songs. In 1981, Tony joined The Marvels, a professional Lebanese band that performed American and European music and was named “Best Guitarist in Lebanon” the following year.
By the time he was nineteen, Tony had suffered multiple injuries and was ready for peace and music. He applied to the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles where English wasn’t required because “music is a universal language.”
Student and Teacher
Tony Khalife arrived in Los Angeles in 1984 with two guitars, tuition money and a handful of English words. At the Guitar Institute, his abilities as a guitarist were recognized and he had the privilege of playing with Al DiMeola. But his restless soul pushed him to grow and heal further. He became a direct disciple of Satguru Sant Keshavadas, a singing holy man, studying the life and songs of Indian saints and ancient Vedic rituals in Sanskrit, he served seven years as a Pujari at the Wishwa Shanti Ashrama in Oakland and learned the Tabla with great master drummer Ustad Zakir Hussain.
After his graduation from GIT, Tony began teaching music at the Showcase Music Institute, and the Community School of Music and Art in Palo Alto. Two years later, Tony released his first album of jazz alternative fusion Pandhari (c 1989) with the first incarnation of the Tony Khalife Group.
But the search for enlightenment nipped at his heels again and Tony took a pilgrimage to India. Upon his return to the United States, he continued to study and perform Vedic discipline at the Wishwa Shanti Ashram and played at music festivals with the second incarnation of the Tony Khalife Group. He performed with poet Elmaz Abinader—whose plays and poetry explore cultural conflicts and displacement—and several musicians across the U.S. and in other countries. Throughout the nineties, Tony taught guitar and tabla in Palo Alto, performed Shakespeare at Stanford University, and wrote more songs, soon becoming one of the most favored performers in northern California.
In 1998, Tony began recording Fish out of Sea over a two-year span, the first lyric/vocal album with the third incarnation of the Tony Khalife Group. He composed other music for plays, films and poetry readings and worked with the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA) on seminars for writers working with music. In the years since 2000, Tony has participated in workshops in Spoken Word, Poetry, Memoir and others and has worked with writers such as Willie Perdomo, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Ruth Forman, David Mura and Elmaz Abinader. He also performed in Shakespeare theater productions at Stanford University, turning down the part of Othello in a major production because it was time to move on.
In 2005, Tony settled in Ojai and devoted all his time and energies to songwriting. His album, The Music Shelter, produced by Nick Peters in 2006, tells Tony’s story with fearless honesty and, in doing so, tells the story of millions of children whose lives have been torn by war and redeemed by love and music.
No place she can hide
Beneath broken skies
No shelter, nor alibis
In his latest album, “The Farther Shore Of Light” Tony Khalife found the linear harmonies that facilitate the movements of the ragas, maneuvering these complex melodies over chords without constricting the freedom of their soulful expressions, plunging deeper into the darkness and emerging with brilliant melodies of peace, making a giant step in his mission of raising the world’s vibration through music. All the threads of his life came together—from the ravaged childhood in war-torn Lebanon to the search for spiritual enlightenment—in a lyrical flow that blends all that he has experienced and learned in his long journey.