THEY WILL BE FREE (2017) is an experimental song cycle/album about humanity’s search for life in the Universe, as told by two astronauts and the worlds they visit. Using traditional composition, electroacoustics with both vintage and modern space exploration audio, nods to Indian classical music, and poetic storytelling, TWBF illustrates an epic tale of hope, desperation, and liberation.

The EARTHLING (EARTH search for Life IN the universe Grand tour) 1 mission was a series of probes of astrobiological targets as a “grand tour,” in homage to the Voyager mission. Due to the expected duration of the mission, a single astronaut was chosen to pilot the system, deploy its probes, and perform the required experiments or initiate automated laboratory instrument functions as necessary. This astronaut was understood to not return to Earth after arrival at TRAPPIST-1e.

This project is particularly special because it incorporates the many talents of precious friends and peers on piano, strings, guitar, and voice (credited below), and was completely self-produced and mastered.

Where to listen:

  • THEY WILL BE FREE (2017) – you can stream the entire album and buy the digital version, CD + bonus tracks, or Mission Control Package (with bonus tracks, mission patch sticker, and mission log booklet) on Bandcamp! You can also stream on Soundcloud.
  • Bonus Tracks – Bandcamp, Soundcloud
  • Select Instrumentals – Soundcloud


Composition, poetry, editing, and production by D.M. Persaud
“Pluto” composition by Najia Khaled 

Song Credits:

Enterlude: NASA/Voyager; The Planetary Society/Also Sprach Zarathustra (Strauss) in simulated Mars air pressure
Earthling 1: Najia Khaled (voice), Jackson Alexander (guitar)
Venus: Najia Khaled (voice), Malik Chaney (violin), D.M. Persaud (cello), Benny Cheung (piano)
Earth: Najia Khaled (voice), Benny Cheung (piano)
Mars: Rajiv Mohabir, D.M. Persaud (voice); P.S. Mukherjee (violin, 1931); NASA/Apollo
Europa: Rowan Lyons (voice); United States Air Force Heritage of America Band; bicycle and church bells (Wikimedia)
Titan: Cassandra Litten (voice)
Pluto: Najia Khaled (voice)
Trappist-1E: Diana Wu (voice), D.M. Persaud (cello); NASA/Kepler
Earthling 2: D.M. Persaud, Najia Khaled (voice); Benny Cheung (piano)

Voice Transcriptions #1-3: Sanji Dewan, Lonika Singh (voice)
Voice Transcription #4: D.M. Persaud (voice)

Bonus Track credits:

HE 1523-0901 (Earthling 1 Remix): Najia Khaled, D. M. Persaud (voice); Benny Cheung (piano)
Enceladus: Divya M. Persaud (voice & prepared piano)
Godspeed, John Glenn: Divya M. Persaud (cello); NASA/John Glenn; NASA/STS-94
Describe the Appearance of a Fallen Star: NASA, NASA/Kepler; Vera Rubin commencement address to American University (2011)

Image credits:

NASA public archives
NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI
NASA / JPL / University of Arizona
NASA / JPL / University of Arizona / Arizona State University
NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

Album Cover Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI