For two days in December, Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim (BJBE) in Deerfield will move very close to the center of the Jewish musical universe. On those two days- December 5-6- four of the most important women in the Jewish music scene will all be artists-in-residence.
Folk singer-songwriters Julie Silver, Beth Schafer, and Peri Smilow, and Internet sensation Michelle Citrin will join on stage on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 for a concert they have titled Four Telling. But that historic performance is just the culmination of a weekend of musical magic.
It begins on Dec. 5, when Beth Schafer leads Friday night services. A cantor in her native Orlando, Schafer is also a songwriter and recording artist with seven albums of original material.
She played at center court for the Orlando Magic, and for Barack Obama during his first presidential campaign; in 2006, she won the American Idol Faithbased Competition, beating out dozens of Christian-rock bands.
The following day, Peri Smilow and Julie Silver lead Shabbat services. Both are singer-songwriters in the Debbie Friedman tradition. Smilow's debut album was released in 1992; she has performed throughout the English-speaking world, as well as in Israel and even Singapore. Her album The Freedom Music Project featured a youth choir with both black and Jewish singers, performing the music of Passover and the Civil Rights movement; it received national media attention. Her current album, Blessings, was inspired by her surviving cancer. Smilow also has a Master's degree in education from Harvard, and has spent a quarter-century working with disadvantaged children.
Julie Silver just released her ninth, celebrating her, yes, silver anniversary in Jewish music. She is from Massachusetts, but lives in southern California. Like Friedman before her, Silver has found her songs being woven into the fabric of camp, services, and Jewish life altogether. Her career highlights include her Chanukah album hitting the Billboard charts, singing a duet with Helen Hunt, performing the National Anthem at Fenway Park, and acting opposite Bette Midler. (Oh, and her partner, Mary Connelly, produces the Ellen show.)
Michelle Citrin, who will join the others onstage Saturday night, is best known for her cheeky music videos like "20 Things to Do with Matzah," "Shake Your Grogger" and the "Call Me Maybe" parody "Call Your Zeyde." She is also capable of soulful poignancy, as on such tracks as "Someday" and "If I Fall." Her songwriting skills, emotional delivery, and winking sense of humor have taken her around the world, including Israel, and onto national TV and the pages of TIME magazine, with accolades from Billboard, VH-1, and Sony. After many EPs, her debut LP is on its way.
Jewish music fans- do not miss this show, as close as you might ever get to a Jewish Lilith Fair! See you there.
For more information, contact BJBE at (847) 940-7575 or visit bjbe.org; for tickets, visit eventbrite.com.