Tag Archives: Jewish Musicians

Jew of the Week: Pink

P!nk

Alecia Beth Moore, aka. Pink (Credit: Evan Agostini)

Alecia Beth Moore (b. 1979) was born in Pennsylvania to a Jewish mother and an Irish-American father. She enjoyed singing from early childhood and started performing at age 14, taking on the stage name “Pink” based on the character Mr. Pink in the film Reservoir Dogs. That same year, she was asked to join the band Basic Instinct. The band broke apart before releasing any songs. Two years later, Pink formed a new R&B group called Choice. After finding little success, one music executive told her to “go solo, or go home”, so she did. Her first single came out in 2000 and quickly went to the top of the Billboard charts. The album was certified double-platinum, and Pink won Female New Artist of the Year. The following year, “Lady Marmalade” (with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, and Mya) became her first #1 single, and won her a Grammy. For her second album, Pink took things into her own hands to show her real talents, as opposed to fulfilling the boring wishes of the music industry. Pink was right, and the album was a huge international success (it remains her most successful to date). All in all, Pink has produced seven albums (so far), selling over 40 million copies to make her one of the bestselling musicians of all time. She has also appeared in a dozen films, is a vocal social activist and philanthropist, and is raising two kids along the way. Pink has been credited with inventing “the modern wave of Pop Diva Domination”, and inspired countless others, including Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna. Earlier this year, People Magazine called her “a performer, mother and role model whose honesty, humour, confidence and sheer star power make her one of the most beloved and fascinating entertainers on the planet.”

Words of the Week

The Jews gave us the Outside and the Inside – our outlook and our inner life. We can hardly get up in the morning or cross the street without being Jewish. We dream Jewish dreams and hope Jewish hopes. Most of our best words, in fact – new, adventure, surprise; unique, individual, person, vocation; time, history, future; freedom, progress, spirit; faith, hope, justice – are the gifts of the Jews.
– Thomas Cahill

Pink posted this to her Instagram page after a show in Berlin in 2017, right around the time of the Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville.

Jews of the Week: Idelsohn and Nathanson

Hava Nagila

Abraham Tzvi Idelsohn (1882-1938) was born in Latvia to a religious Jewish family. He studied to be a synagogue cantor. At 27, he made aliyah to Israel and worked as a musician and composer. In 1919, he opened a Jewish music school. A few years later, he left for Ohio where he served as professor of Jewish music at Hebrew Union College, the major seminary of Reform Judaism. Between 1914 and 1932 he published his ten-volume magnum opus, Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies. Many consider him “the father of Jewish musicology”. His most famous melody is undoubtedly ‘Hava Nagila’. In December of 1917, British army general Edmund Allenby defeated the Ottomans and conquered the Holy Land for Great Britain. The Jews of Israel were elated, and celebrated the general’s arrival in Jerusalem. They asked Idelsohn to compose a song for the special occasion. Idelsohn remembered an old happy tune he had adapted from a Hasidic niggun. The song was a hit. A few years later, he asked his music class to write words for the song.

A young Moshe Nathanson (1899-1981) was in that class, and wrote a couple of simple lines based on Scriptural verses from Psalm 118. The rest is history. Nathanson was born in Jerusalem, the son of a rabbi. In 1922 he moved to Canada and double-majored in law and music at McGill University. He ended up studying at what is now the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York. From there, he was hired to be the cantor of the first Reconstructionist Synagogue, and served in that role for the next 48 years. He wrote an important four-volume tome of liturgical songs. Nathanson also spent 10 years broadcasting Jewish music on American airwaves (“Voice of Jerusalem”) and dedicated much of his life to promoting Jewish folk music. Today, Nathanson’s and Idelsohn’s ‘Hava Nagila’ is the most recognizable Jewish/Hebrew song in the world, and a staple of every bar mitzvah and wedding. There is even a full-length documentary about it, called Hava Nagila (The Movie). This past year marked the song’s centennial anniversary.

Three Reasons to be Religious

Words of the Week

One who cannot survive bad times cannot see good times.
– Hasidic proverb

General Allenby’s December 1917 proclamation to the people of Jerusalem.