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Popular Music

Amy Winehouse dead at 27

Today British singer Amy Winehouse passed away at the age of 27. She was found dead in her home in London. The cause of death is yet unknown, but considering Amy Winehouse's very public struggle with substance abuse and mental illness, there is an almost universal assumption that her death was somehow substance-related.

Carolyn Leigh inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame

January 1, 1985

Songwriter Carolyn Leigh, who wrote hundreds of tunes for Broadway, TV and film and was nominated for two Tony awards, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Hannah Block, 1913 - 2009

Little can be said about Hannah Block that hasn't already been said many times over. She was a grand dame whose influence radiated far beyond her petite frame.

It wasn't so much what the lady did – although she did much in her 96 years. It is what she meant to Wilmington.

Ruby Blue, 1918 - 2008

Ruby Blue, 89, the inspirational yoga teacher regarded by many in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere around the world as their guru died after a short illness on June 8, 2008.

At the age of 86, Ruby finally agreed to be anointed a swami, a Hindu honorary title meaning teacher or master. Given the Indian name of Neeladevi by her guru in the late l960s, she became Swami Neeladevananda at her investiture in Orleans, France in 2005. Neeladevi or Neeladevananda, Ruby Blue always remained a Jew and lit sabbath candles every Friday night.

Behind "Chagaga" by the Tichel Cuties

My friend Becca, along with some of her Orthodox Jewish Day School friends/co-tichel cuties created a pretty intense fusion of Lady Gaga and traditional Orthodox concepts (the wearing of the tichel – garb for married women, preparing for Shabbat, and the waiting for the Messiah). This is not a likely combination so that’s probably why it has been getting so much attention in the blogosphere, both positive and negative.

Taking the "Rihanna" approach to Jewish Orthodox sexuality

I was a little surprised to see how much frank talk about sex was featured in The Sisterhood this week. As a teenager, I am used to people around me talking about sex a lot--in real life, in movies, in songs, in basically every medium except in Jewish blogs. But that is no longer!

"Some of These Days"

Ninety-nine years ago today, Sophie Tucker, the "last of the red hot mamas," recorded "Some of These Days," which would become one of her signature songs. Sophie Tucker, the iconic Jewish American vaudeville and cinema star, is one of the women featured in Making Trouble, JWA's film about funny Jewish women. 

"Girls in Trouble": Indie rock as midrash

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. 

The "fury of the kooky, odd-looking girl"

On Saturday, 67 year-old Barbra Streisand will return to the Vanguard - the venue that made her a star. According to this piece in the New York Times Magazine, the concert will feature 13 songs (whose "average year of composition is 1963") to promote her album Love Is the Answer.

The Hip Hop Violinist

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.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Popular Music." (Viewed on October 1, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/popular-music>.

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