Sunday, December 17, 2017

Hanukkah Spirit From Female Artists: Sarah Aroeste, Rivky, Rachel Kann

At the end of a recent Forward article on this year's Hanukkah parody videos, writer Jenny Singer points out, "Why is the Jewish parody game such a boys' club? Next Hanukkah, we expect to see equal representation. You're on notice, ladies." She's not wrong, which is why we're going to look at some of this year's overlooked Hanukkah tunes from some unique female artists.

First up is Ladino songstress Sarah Aroeste with "Bimuelo". Featuring Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz, the track has Aroeste singing the praises of bimuelo, a little-known fried Chanukkah treat popular among Sephardim. The song can be found on Aroeste's recent bilingual holiday album, Together/Endjuntos.

Next is Broolkyn-based singer-songwriter Rivky, with her Hanukkah-themed cover of Joni Mitchell's folk classic "River". Transferring the song's original Christmas setting to the Festival of Lights but retaining the sarcastic melancholy of Mitchell's lyrics, Rivky's version more than lives up with strong, soulful vocals and a piano backing that skillfully incorporates the familiar Maoz Tzur melody. You can watch her bedroom session of the song below or hear the studio version on Soundcloud.

And last but far from least is spoken-word poet Rachel Kann with her composition "Hanukkah: Illumined Nation/The Rededication of Space". Accompanied by upright bassist Brock Pollock, Kann performs the piece, which invokes the story of the oil and calls on listeners to "flip the script" "when the world is upside down" with her signature passion and warmth.

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