(RNS) Here’s a great idea for an album: Get an Australian-born, Jewish-raised, Hindu singer-songwriter with a penchant for banana yellow suits and essential oils and have him sing songs about Islam for kids.
And here it is — “Ben Lee Sings Songs About Islam for the Whole Family,” the newest release from guitarist and singer Ben Lee.
“As my spiritual pursuits became more central to my life, my music naturally became an extension of these interests,” Lee says on his website, where he lounges in yellow and hawks essential oils. “My music has often been both an exploration and a diary of my attempts to open my own heart and mind.”
And that exploration has taken him from his native Sydney, Australia, where he attended a Jewish day school and started singing in a teenage punk band. At the ancient age of 18, he moved to New York, where he first dabbled in Taoism. On a trip to India, he explored Hinduism, and he now follows a guru.
He is best known for his 2005 album “Awake is the New Sleep,” which had several top 40 hits in Australia.
The new album was initially part of a larger project to explore world religions on several albums. But President Trump’s travel ban and the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. prompted Lee to bring out a solo album about Islam first.
“All of this stuff started to happen with the travel ban, and I thought, you know what? Now’s the moment,” Lee told The Guardian. “And if you let these moments go past and you don’t stand up, then they slip away. This album is not a hardcore piece of activism. I’m standing up for ambiguity and poetry.”
All proceeds from the new album will benefit the American Civil Liberties Union.