Music

"Girls in Trouble": Indie rock as midrash

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Photo courtesy of Tablet

I tend to be wary of educational musical acts, especially those that sound like they were written by teachers trying to be "cool."  But after a quick listen, it is obvious that "Girls in Trouble" is far, far more than a simple "101" on biblical women. 

Eve's Bible, Jews at the Fringe, and the politics of frizzy hair! Link Roundup - Aug 19, 2009

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Everyday I encounter a number of interesting websites, articles, and blog posts that are definitely worth mentioning. I hope you find these as interesting as I do!

The Hip Hop Violinist

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Reading about the Washington Jewish Music Festival (which, incidentally, sounds fabulous), I learned about Miri Ben-Ari, aka the Hip Hop Violinist. Classically trained on the violin, at age 18 she decided to explore a different way to use her music. She moved to New York City, added some bling to her instrument, and began collaborating with artists including Kanye West (with whom she earned a Grammy), Alicia Keys, Wyclef Jean, Jay-Z, and others.

Arise, Arise: A New Wave of Jewish Women Musicians

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Yesterday I attended a workshop on themes of social justice in Jewish music. I was given a music packet that included songs by Bob Dylan, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary), Pete Seeger, Jeff Klepper, the stud-of-a-Jewish-Rockstar Rick Recht, and E18hteen (the modern Jewish rock band founded by Dan Nichols). "E18hteen" sings that catchy song "Kehilah, Kedoshah" which is all the rage in Reform Jewish camps (I'm not going to lie -- I dig this song despite its cheesiness).

Emma's Revolution!

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It's unlikely that Emma Goldman predicted her legacy would inspire the name of an activist folk music duo, but perhaps she did. Over the weekend, I had the delight of seeing Emma's Revolution, a "musical uprising of truth and hope from award-winning, activist songwriters" perform with feminist folk music pioneer Holly Near.

If Wanda Landowska were alive today...

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On February 21, 1942 (sixty-six years ago yesterday) Wanda Landowska -- a Warsaw-born Jewish musician with a mastery of the harpsichord -- made history with a performance of Bach's "Goldberg Variations" at New York's Town Hall. It was the first time in the 20th century that the piece, originally written for the harpsichord, was performed publicly on that instrument. A student of Landowska's later remembered that hearing her performance was "like being in front of one of the greatest wonders of nature."

Postcards from Yiddishland: Singing Ghetto Songs

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I spent the last week of December encamped in a Catskills hotel with about 425 klezmorim, dancers, artists, students, and lovers of Yiddish from around the world. We had gathered for the 23rd annual KlezKamp, a music and culture extravaganza organized by Living Traditions, a nonprofit dedicated to Yiddish cultural continuity and community. During the day, we took classes on everything from Hasidic dance to world Jewish foodways; at night, we danced to the newest and oldest in Ashkenazi music in the hotel ballroom with its famous gold lamè curtains.

"Hava Nagila"... for a Teeny Bopper Christmas?

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Who knew that "Hava Nagila" could be "sexy" ... or "racy"...?  Lauren Rose (formerly Lauren Goldberg), a Jewess from the UK, has given this familiar (and perhaps tiresome) traditional Hebrew folk song a somewhat dirty, teeny-bopper twist. 

Free to be...

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Free To Be You And Me

Today I'm celebrating the 35th birthday of one of my favorite childhood albums, "Free to Be You and Me." I've always loved this collection of songs and stories that envision a non-sexist world. As a young adult, I was proud to learn that Jewish feminist Letty Cottin Pogrebin was the editorial consultant for the album, book, and tv special (and the author of "Stories for Free Children" which I also loved). Lately I've had the happy opportunity to appreciate "Free to Be You and Me" a second time around, now as a mom. It's fun to hear the voices of Marlo Thomas, Diana Ross, Harry Belafonte, Alan Alda, and Mel Brooks - it's like visiting with old friends.

Klezmer, Ladino, and New Music Fusion

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I always have an ear out for new music, especially music that brings together sounds and styles from different parts of the world. Two of my favorites include the music of the Afro-Celt Sound System and Rebbe Soul, both of which are quite innovative and energizing.

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