Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sephardi Beauty Who Sings As Well: Yasmin Levy

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                     
Yasmin Levy -Turkish Jew b: December 23, 1975

Yasmin Levy  יסמין לוי  is a superstar from Israel.  She is a singer and songwriter who is Sephardim with a father from Izmir, Turkey.  Yasmin was born in Jerusalem. 

 Her father, Yitzhak "Isaac" Levy (1919-1977) was a composer and Hazzan (Cantor) in the synagogue.  He was also a pioneer researcher into the long and rich history of the Ladino music and culture of Spanish Jewry and its diaspora, being the editor of the Ladino language magazine, Aki Yerushalyim.  Ladino is the language of the Sephardim, a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish.  They were not Yiddish speakers of the Ashkenazi which was a mixture of Hebrew and German.  
Me, the flamenco dancer in 1949 in Oregon who studied with Therese Stopper, had no idea it was connected to our Jewish roots.  It just reached my heart, and I'm Ashkenazi!  

Spanish music is my favorite.  When I was around 13 years old I took up Spanish dancing after having studied tap, ballet and toe dancing.  I did the classical and flamenco dancing.  After dancing to this music, nothing else matches its intensity and rhythm.  It's in my heart forever.  
2008 Yasmin Levy, vocalist of Judeo-Spanish music:

Ofra Haza (November 19, 1957-February 23, 2000, Israeli singer from Yemen, messo-soprano

Yasmin has a distinctive and emotive style, just as Ofra Haza did with her music reflecting Yemen.  Yasmin had a debut album called Romance & Yasmin in 2000, which earned her a nomination as "Best Newcomer" for the Roots BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards 2005.  She then followed that up in 2005 with her 2nd album called "La Juderia" (Spanish:  The Jewish Quarter).  
Yasmin singing La Alegria (Happiness)

In 2006 she was nominated again, then in the category of "Culture Crossing."  Levy's work earned her the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation Award for promoting cross-cultural dialogue between musicians from 3 cultures.  In her own words, she said, "I am proud to combine the 2 cutures of Ladino and flamaenco, while mixing in Middle Eastern influences.  I am embarking on a 500 year old musical journey, taking Ladino to Andalusia and mixing it with flamenco, the style that still bears the musical memories of the old Moorish and Jewish-Spanish world with the sound of the Arab world.  In a way, it is a "Musical reconciliation" of history.  

I have a  Pashtun friend in Pakistan about the same age as Yasmin.  I saw the picture of Yasmin and didn't know who she was.  My Pashtun friend identified her for me, so her music has reached very far.  He also has a positive feeling for Israel, maybe to her credit.  Music does jump across barriers.  La Alegria by Yasmin

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