A Jewish Music Hall of Fame

Rock'n'roll has one. Jazz has one. The Blues has one. Country music has one of the first. Even classical music has one: a hall of fame.

The Rock one will have its 2012 induction ceremony in April… which is why I am thinking, now, about the need for a Jewish Music Hall of Fame.

Not just a compilation of all of the great Jewish talent that is already inducted into these other halls of fame and ones like them, such as the Songwriters Hall of Fame or even the Jewish response to the Rock Hall.

And not a list of Jewish musicians collected from various local and national Jewish halls of fame, awards like the Israel Prize, or books of great Jews in various fields, including music. After all, these may be Jews, but their music isn't necessarily Jewish- "White Christmas," anyone?

No, I'm talking about a Jewish Music Hall of Fame, in which the great luminaries of Jewish music would be honored, celebrated, and immortalized. Their lyrics, instruments, and other memorabilia could be on display, and their music would be made available for all to hear.

Like some of these other halls, the Jewish Music Hall of Fame would have to be broken down into categories, as Jewish music encompasses such a great variety of sounds. So here are my nominees for the inaugural inductees to the Jewish Music Hall of Fame. Obviously, many more deserve to be inducted; I'm just saying these people might deserve to be inducted first:

Cantorial-     Yossele Rosenblatt

Israeli-          Naomi Shemer

Klezmer-       Dave Tarras

Yiddish-       Chava Alberstein

American-     Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (It speeds up at about the 1:40 mark.)

Jazz-             John Zorn (He's the sax player; it starts at the 1:00 mark.)

Sephardic-    Flory Jagoda

Mizrachi-      Ofra Haza

Classical-      Hugo Weisgall (He also wrote an opera of The Book of Esther.)

Comedy-      Mickey Katz

4 Corners-     J.J. Keki (In the fedora, with his Ugandan Jewish community.)

Children-      Debbie Friedman

The "4 Corners" category would be to honor Jewish music and lyrics influenced by those of Asia and Africa, for instance… and, say, those merging klezmer with reggae… and Jewish music that pulls from too many genresto reasonably categorize.

Also, performers and composers could be inducted in multiple categories. For instance, while Debbie Friedman was inarguably one of the pioneers of Jewish children's music, her music was also for adults. And Mickey Katz might also be recognized not just for his sense of humor but for helping keep klezmer alive.

In future years, acts like Craig Taubman, Noa, The Klezmatics (this song was written by Woody Guthrie, for Arlo and his other kids), Moishe Oysher, The Barry Sisters, The Diaspora Yeshiva Band, Julie Silver, Emile Zrihan, Matisyahu, and dozens of otherswould beinducted, of course.

But I think the idea of a Jewish Music Hall of Fame, with new inductees announced annually, would greatly help to promote Jewish music altogether. And it would finally honor those who have honored the Jewish people by singing our songs.

Who else should be in the Jewish Music Hall of Fame? Nominate your favorites in the comments below…

Paul Wieder photo 2013

Paul Wieder is putting Jewish music on your playlist! Plus updates on Jewish music festivals, reviews of Jewish music websites and blogs, and insights from Jewish music producers and promoters. Let’s make Jewish music part of your well-balanced musical diet!

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