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I just saw a notice that there will be a Hanukkah special on PBS this week, and it features some Jewish musicians whose work I really like. It’s called Lights and you can find the local listings for your PBS station on Craig Taubman’s website. The most exciting to me is the Klezmatics, who are going to sing one of the songs from Woody Guthrie Hanukkah album that they did, Happy Joyous Hanukkah. Other performers include a well-known African-American Jewish gospel artist, Joshua Nelson, the adorable Brooklyn singer-songwriter Michelle Citrin, and a famous Sephardic cantor, Alberto Mizrachi. I don’t think I’m into every single song they chose to perform for this, because it spans all the possible styles: some country with Mare Winningham and some more standard choral music, Hebrew, English, Yiddish and Judeo-Spanish. The CD might be worthwhile for Hanukkah parties to come, though.
Unfortunately, the video clips that PBS is sharing on the web for publicity are really short, so I’ve chosen instead this longer performance of the Klezmatics with Joshua Nelson. This isn’t a Hanukkah song, but that’s fine! The song is a Yiddish one about Jewish messianism called “Shnirele Perele,” (Ribbons and Pearls) and Nelson sings “Ani Ma’amin” (I Believe) in Hebrew in counterpoint mid-way through the song. It’s a great duet melding two different Jewish musical styles.
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