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Popular Music

Libby Holman

Torch singer Libby Holman was known as much for her scandalous personal life and revolutionary activism as for her lush voice.

Anna Held

A scandalous figure who regularly changed details of her life to suit her image, actress Anna Held was best known for her relationship with Florenz Ziegfeld.

Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn

Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn’s popular Yiddish tales not only painted a vivid portrait of the lost shtetl of her youth, but also added a dimension male authors of the time had missed: a nuanced and complex picture of the lives of Jewish women.

Nan Halperin

Nan Halpern became famous on the vaudeville stage not just for her comic performances but for the rapid costume changes that earned her the nickname “The Wonder Girl.”

Eydie Gorme

Eydie Gorme’s regular musical appearances on Steve Allen’s Tonight! Show with her husband, Steve Lawrence, launched their joint careers as the duo responsible for hits like 1963’s “Blame It on the Bossa Nova.”

Dorothy Lerner Gordon

Dorothy Lerner Gordon used radio and television to give children access to literature, music, and news of current events.

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.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Popular Music." (Viewed on September 2, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/popular-music>.

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