The historical, political, spiritual, economic, and cultural connections between African- Americans and Jewish-Americans have long been a subject of rigorous attention. Books and articles focusing on the musical landscapes shared by African-Americans and Jews have been equally numerous; indeed, most general histories of American Popular Music even turn on the synergies of African-American & Jewish creativity, influence, and exchange, be it Tin Pan Alley, Klezmer, the Yiddish Theater, jazz, or R&B.
Yet, for all this attention, there has yet to be a one-stop musical source of evidence and exploration, a single CD release that succinctly and selectively gathers together the key songs that speak to the vibrant and often dazzling musical back-and-forth between the two communities. This collection explores the myriad ways Jews and African-Americans have coalesced, clashed, mobilized, and struggled with each other through a century s worth of extraordinary and fascinating musical performance that finds Jews performing African- American music and African-Americans performing Jewish music, and appealing to Jewish audiences. It moves from early performers like Slim Galliard singing about bagels and matzoh balls and Cab Calloway mixing Yiddish into his hepcat dictionary of jive, to Sonny Berman making 40s bebop he called Beautiful Jewish Music, Johnny Mathis singing Kol Nidre, and Aretha Franklin doing a 60s take on Swanee. Indeed, while much scholarly and media ink has been devoted to the Jewish attraction to African-American music, this anthology while surely demonstrating that will also focus on demonstrating the long history of African-American interest in Jewish musical practice, performance, and composition.