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Popular Music

Mama Cass Elliot

A folk singer with a gift for turning formerly up-tempo tunes like “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” into unforgettable torch songs, Cass Elliot helped define the sound of her generation as a member of the Mamas and the Papas.

A Night With My Tween Icons: Salt-n-Pepa

I remember buying Salt-n- Pepa’s album Very Necessary in 1993. I must have been nine, and along with River of Dreams by Billy Joel, it was the soundtrack of my tween life (we can discuss my eclectic music taste in another blog post). I never could have imagined that eleven years later I would be in Boston’s City Hall Plaza listening to the epic Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella spout messages of female empowerment, the value of friendships, and staying true to you. 

It was a magical evening at the Phantom Gourmet Beach BBQ Party, and thanks to one of my highly connected friends, I ended up with two tickets. I grabbed a friend who enjoys meat, beer, and 90’s hip-hop as much as I did, and we ventured to the plaza.

Shoshana Damari

Shoshana Damari’s lush voice and her fusion of Eastern and Western musical aesthetics made her the voice of a generation in Israeli music.

Nora Bayes

A talented and popular vaudeville star, Nora Bayes became an example of the limits of women’s power and independence in the early twentieth century when her attempts to command respect from producers backfired.

Belle Barthe

A bawdy comedian who inspired Bette Midler, Belle Barthe narrowly avoided trouble with the law by delivering some of her most wicked punch lines in Yiddish.

Belle Baker

Torch singer Belle Baker’s resonant voice made her the first choice of many composers to debut their songs, introducing 163 songs to the public over the course of her career on stage and in recordings.

Sophie Tucker

“The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas,” Sophie Tucker defied conventions about gender, age, weight, and ethnicity with her saucy comic banter and music.

Sylvia Blagman Syms

A jazz saloon singer with a gift for connecting with her audiences, Sylvia Blagman Syms continued performing despite ill health and was praised as one of the greats by performers that included Billie Holliday, Frank Sinatra, and Duke Ellington.

Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand’s outsized personality, combined with her voice and acting talents, made her one of the most successful performers of the twentieth century.

Dinah Shore

Dinah Shore was one of the top recording artists of the 1940s, with hits like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” before starting a new career in the 1970s as a talk show host who prized conversation over confrontation.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Popular Music." (Viewed on July 30, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/popular-music>.

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