music notes

From Klezmer to Rap, Jewish Musicians Have Changed the World

The Kosher Music Scene is Hot

It’s not your Bubbie’s music

One of the biggest misconceptions about being religious is that life is boring, filled with heavy restrictions, and that we have no fun. Nothing could be farther from the truth. And, when it comes to music, you will find that the level of artistry, professionalism, charisma
and pizzazz is anything but boring.

From reform school to music sensation

Hip-hop, reggae singer, Mattisyahu, may be one of the most memorable examples of a BT (ba’al teshmusic notesuva) musician. Raised secular, Mattisyahu landed in New York after a troubled childhood, and came under the mentorship of a Chabad rabbi. Ultimately he became religious. His albums reached number 1 and he became an icon of the Hasidic music crowd, drawing huge audiences to his concerts.

From Israel to New York

Gad Elbaz, an Israeli, is quickly moving up the list of favorite musicians. His father, Benny Elbaz, also a popular singer, serves as inspiration and mentor to Gad, who began to write and perform music when he was only four years old. When Gad was seven years old, the family became religious. He and his father’s first post-teshuva song was Lo Kashe Lachzor B’Tshuva—it is not difficult to become observant. He has produced several chart-topping albums plus dozens of #1 singles, appreciated by religious and nonreligious Jews all over the world. His music spans from traditional Mizrachi to pop.

The ultimate BT

Lately, Elbaz teamed up with one of the newest artists on the orthodox music scene hip-hop/rapper Nissim Baruch Black who converted to Judaism. Nissim grew up in Seattle. When he was two, his parents separated and when he was seven his mother died from an overdose. He was taken in by his grandfather, who taught him the Koran. He began rapping at age 13, slowing building a following and making it to the top of the hip-hop charts. But in spite of his success, Nissim did not feel complete and his spiritual searching finally brought him to the neighborhood next door which happened to be mostly Jewish. One day he walked into the synagogue and knew that he had finally found his home. Living now in Israel, Nissim has turned his hip-hopping Heavenward, but he has not lost any of his special style and appeal.

This is only a glimpse into the world of orthodox Jewish music. Visit sites such as MostlyMusic or JMR (Jewish Music Report) for the latest news and releases. And get ready to dance.

By Oren Laurent

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