Friday, November 30, 2007

Joshua Nelson & Kosher Gospel

Shabbat Shalom, everyone.

I love it when my preconceptions and biases get blown away. Check this out. Joshua Nelson grows up in an African American synagogue. I didn't even know there were African American synagogues. He draws on the history of African American gospel music to compose his own versions of Jewish liturgical music and has played at Jewish events all over the world. This is wild, beautiful stuff.

I really wanted to post Nelson (and his Kosher Gospel band's) version of Adon Olam, but I'm not allowed to. You can go hear it at YouTube. Go check out Nelson's web site for a lot more information.

Kosher Gospel 1 (L'cha Dodi)

The thing about Nelson's music that is really making me think about Jewish music is that I get really grumpy when I hear Christian groups (particularly Messianic Jewish / Christian groups) using Jewish music for their own purposes. I'm primarily annoyed because I consider that appropriation to be either a) for the purpose of evangelism, can be Christian and still do Jewish stuff, or b) because somehow incorporating Jewish motifs makes Christians feel more authentic. If you want to be Christian, be Christian, but leave the Jewish stuff to Jews. (BIG EXCEPTION: A non-Jew of any type that plays or listens to Jewish music because they like the music is just fine, it's the religious uses that bug me).

Anyway, this kind of turns it around. What should I make of a Jewish musician appropriating a classic American Christian music into Jewish religions practice. Not that this hasn't happened before, mind you. It's still something that feels odd and makes me feel a bit like a hypocrite. Oh well, lots to think about.

Hat tip to ScotBloke for posting the video.


Ron said...

I play in the Ventura Klezmer Band in Southern California and our website shows that we had a zillion hits that came through your site. I'd not heard of you before, and flipping through your blog, I don't see any mention of us. Any idea what's going on?
Ron Fink

Jack said...

Hi Ron. Nice to meet you. I think I can clear this up. On October 30th, I
posted about "Los Angles Klezmer Wedding Bands" for my brother, who is getting married in LA in the spring and is considering booking a
klezmer band.

I'm glad I sent some hits your way. I hope they turn into a few bookings for you.

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