Tony Khalife
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Tony Khalife

Ojai, California, United States

Ojai, California, United States
Band World Acoustic


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The best kept secret in music


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1. “Transcendence”, Khalife -- Casa Barranca records 2007
2. “The Music Shelter”, Tony Khalife solo -- Toothless Monkey records 2005
3. “Desert Raga jazz”, Tony Khalife Group --independent jazz release 2003
4. “God Wears my Underwear”, Soundtrack -- independent Internet release 2000
5. “Hospital Of The Mind”, Soundtrack -- independent Internet release 1999
6. “Fish Out Of Sea”, Tony Khalife Group, world fusion -- Eberhard records 1999
7. “Abhaya” Fearlessness, Tony Khalife Group -- independent jazz release 1993
8. “Pandhari” The City Of Bliss”, Tony Khalife Group -- independent jazz release 1990


Feeling a bit camera shy


Musician, Composer, Yogi, Child-Soldier

"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. His 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, blending a lifelong search for musical truth into all forms of world music and creating a seamless flow in which the drone and ragas of Indian music meet the Western harmonies, the resonance of the devotional Sufi dances flows into the different pulses, melodies and accents of all the forms of music Tony has mastered—Indian, Middle-Eastern, flamenco and rock’ n’ roll—in a whirl of contrasting time signatures, from the needle-like 7/4 spiral and cyclical time of eastern music to the 4/4 of western rhythmic drive.
With his newest release “Transcendence”, Khalife mixes languages, rhythms and styles, inventing new forms of musical expression to release the truth within him, a truly alternative world dance Arabesque masterpiece.
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 was drafted into a local militia, learning to handle a gun instead of a guitar. 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. Wounded twice, it was the bullet to his leg that gave Khalife a brief reprieve to attend the National Conservatory of Music and take correspondence courses with the Berklee College of Music. 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 four 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 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, kept company with the hippies from the Stanford community and wrote more songs, soon becoming one of the most favored performers in northern California. At the sound of his guitar and voice people gathered to dance and smile, bringing back the spirit of the sixties.
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.

Master Per