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Popular Music

Sophie Tucker

Sophie Tucker was an international star of vaudeville, music halls, and later film, performing in both Yiddish and English in a career that spanned over fifty years.

Sylvia Blagman Syms

Sylvia Syms’s dynamic saloon performances were characterized by an intimate storytelling style and a grainy contralto voice combined with honesty, a “been-there” aura, and a genuine love of the connection with her audience. She was touted as one of the best contributors to her genre by such noteworthy peers as Cy Coleman, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Duke Ellington.

Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand is more than another consumer-culture icon. She is a diva, a superstar, a sensation. Since the 1960s, she has won more varied awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, special Tony, Golden Globe, CableACE, Peabody) than anyone else in show business, and has sold over sixty-eight million records, more records than any other female singer.

Yaffa Yarkoni

During the 1950s Yarkoni was considered Israel’s leading singer, recording numerous records.

Teresa Sterne

While Teresa Sterne was vastly respected for her far-reaching service to music as a record company executive, few who knew her in that role were aware of her earlier career as a pianist, which was short-lived but stunning.

Naomi Shemer

Naomi Shemer’s musical skill was evident during her childhood, when she began to lead community singing on her kibbutz. In 1967 Shemer wrote “Jerusalem of Gold” for the annual song festival. Since the first time “Jerusalem of Gold” was performed at the Song Festival it has been considered the best-loved Israeli song of all time.

Music: Palestine and Israel

The story of music in Israel is inextricably intertwined with the waves of immigration that broke upon its shores from 1882 on. Music in Israel is thus a giant mosaic of cultures, styles and musical traditions which in one way or another integrated into the music made in the country prior to their arrival.

Bette Midler

Humor is an extremely effective tool with which to observe human behavior. When the comic laughs at herself as well as at the foibles of her audience, she creates a connection between people and an opportunity to examine serious subjects in a funny manner. Important and forbidden topics receive airings. Bette Midler’s knowing smile, which rarely leaves her face, reminds her audience that a humorous perspective, on any and all subjects, offers catharsis alongside illumination.

Carole King

Carole King, a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn, gave Aretha Franklin reason to croon “A Natural Woman,” inspired Little Eva to tell a generation about the latest dance craze in “The Loco-Motion,” and let James Taylor warm our hearts with “You’ve Got a Friend.”

Jewish Women and Jewish Music in America

American Jewish music has expanded vastly in variety, range, and quality of activities. Jews brought to America their secular-folk and sacred-liturgical musical heritage. There has been a renascence of age-old traditions that have become means of self-expression for Jewish women.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Popular Music." (Viewed on January 28, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/popular-music>.

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