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On the day of the autumn equinox, which fell anon amid Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur this year, Los Angeles-based musician, diva and cantor, Daniela Gesundheit, appear her newest album, “Alphabet of Wrongdoing.”
“Releasing the almanac on the day of according ablaze and black in the average of the aerial holidays… It was an befalling I aloof couldn’t canyon up,” Gesundheit said.
The 18-track record, whose appellation comes from the adoration Ashamnu, is composed of celebration from the holiest canicule on the Jewish calendar: Rosh Hashana, the lunar New Year, and Yom Kippur.
Image by Dawn Garcia/Brankica Harv…
“Alphabet of Wrongdoing” anthology cover
Just like the acceptable prayers and rituals of the aerial holidays, “Alphabet of Wrongdoing” centers about capacity of atonement, reckoning, absolution and mortality; However, the music itself has been reimagined for a added audience. It begins with “Thirteen Qualities,” or the 13 Attributes of Mercy (Selichot), and concludes with “Psalm 92 (The Aloof Will Blossom Like the Date Palm).”
“I capital to abduction the adorableness of this music,” Gesundheit said. “There isn’t a lot of recorded Jewish music that I acutely bell with. And I knew there was a way I capital to represent these songs and these prayers that I hadn’t yet heard.”
Gesundheit, 38, was built-in in Los Angeles to an Ashkenazi-Mexican Jewish family. Her father, whose parents fled from Eastern Europe aloof afore Apple War II, was built-in in Mexico, while her mother is a third-generation Angelino of Russian-Jewish descent. Her multicultural accomplishments fabricated her acquainted of the all-inclusive assortment that exists in the Jewish community.
“My ancestors adapted Mexican aliment aloof as abundant as Jewish food, and there were some adorable hybrids,” Gesundheit said. “My aunt makes gefilte angle from scratch, but adds this Mexican red sauce. It’s absolutely delicious.”
Gesundheit abounding day academy at Stephen Wise Temple, a ample Reform abbey in Los Angeles, area she was amidst by added kids who came from multicultural Jewish backgrounds.
“I had accompany who were Korean-Polish Jewish, Salvadorian-Jewish,” she said. “It accustomed me to accept that actuality a Jew is not aloof one thing. That has acutely abreast who I am and what I do.”
Gesundheit knew from an aboriginal age that she capital a career in music, but she didn’t acquisition a added affiliation to her Jewishness until college. A music above at Wesleyan University, she explored the Jewish artforms that absorbed her most: balladry and literature.
Gesundheit took courses with Jewish poets, Peter Cole and Marcia Falk, advised the works of Paul Celan, Hannah Arendt, and widely-admired Israeli poet, Zelda, and begin afflatus in the music of aboriginal twentieth aeon cantor and composer, Josef Rosenblatt, and abreast Israeli singer-songwriter, Victoria Hanna.
Although Gesundheit advised mainly South Indian classical articulation and had aspirations to be a pop artist, she ultimately wrote her apriorism on the music of Jewish afflicted rituals. As a boyhood she had faced several cogent losses of bodies abutting to her, and capital to see what Judaism had to action for those experiences.
After she graduated, she took up clandestine abstraction with cantors in San Francisco and eventually fabricated the accommodation to become one herself. These aspirations took her all the way to Toronto to serve as a cantor at Shir Libeynu—Toronto’s aboriginal queer-inclusive congregation—where she’s formed for 13 years.
“I didn’t appetite to accumulate activity to casework accepting a ambiguous abstraction of what was happening, and activity lost. I adulation singing so much, and there’s so abundant song liturgy… I aloof acquainted like I should adept it. I should apperceive it so that I can participate,” she said.
Image by Lori Waltenbury
Celebrating with song: Daniela Gesundheit officiates a bells in Toronto.
During her time as a cantor, Gesundheit accompanying pursued a career in accepted music. She toured with her Toronto-based indie pop band, Snowblink, opened for acts like Timber Timbre and Jeff Tweedy, and collaborated with artists like Brian Eno and Feist.
“These two worlds of abundance acquainted very, actual separate… singing acceptable jewish celebration and creating my own music,” she said. “I aloof never saw a way to arch them.”
Image by Adrienne Amato
Daniela Gesundheit and her band, Snowblink, accomplish at Burdock in Toronto. Pictured: Daniela Gesundheit, Phil Melanson, Dan Goldman.
But with the conception of “Alphabet of Wrongdoing,” Gesundheit did aloof that.
The almanac is heavily afflicted by Gesundheit’s indie pop sound, featuring instruments not about heard in acceptable Jewish august music — nylon cord and electric guitars, synth, piano, bass and baritone saxophones, harp, percussion, autoharp, and a 19-piece cord orchestra.
Gesundheit says she aboriginal acquainted confused to amalgamate her two passions — music and Jewish celebration — while assuming with Feist at the “Tower of Song” Leonard Cohen accolade concert in Montreal in 2017.
“[Cohen] was such a huge bulk for me — not aloof as a songwriter, but as a Jewish thinker and Jewish presence,” she said.
Another moment of assemblage happened back Gesundheit was arrive to sing Jewish prayers at an art arcade in Los Angeles. It was the aboriginal time she had articulate the celebration alfresco of a ritual context, and it fabricated her apprehend how abundant the prayers could bell in a non-religious space.
Image by Saskia Wilson-Brown
Blink, but you won’t absence it: Daniela Gesundheit and her band, Snowblink, accomplish for a blindfolded admirers at the Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles with Kevin Yokota, Dan Goldman, and Sam Gendel.
“It was the animosity of the Jewish bodies in the room, and the conversations and questions it sparked for the non-Jewish bodies encountering this music for the aboriginal time,” Gesundheit said. “I aloof knew in that moment that creating this almanac would be a abundant affair to do.”
Gesundheit was additionally aggressive by the acquaintance of watching a congregation’s concrete acknowledgment to Jewish adoration and song — how anybody in the abbey seemed to amplitude together.
“They looked like a sea of reeds, or a bracken of approach trees, as if there was one wind affective everybody.” she said. “I capital the music assembly on the almanac to feel article like that.”
Image by Spencer Gilley
Songs from the soul: Daniela Gesundheit and Alex Lukashevsky accomplish “Alphabet of Wrongdoing” at URSA art amplitude in Montreal.
Along with the record, Gesundheit appear a agenda libretto— a 55-page ebook that includes claimed balladry and essays, and serves as a “roadmap” for bodies to chase forth with as they listen.
The record’s absolution comes at a altered and arduous time for musicians and religious leaders alike: the COVID-19 communicable has acutely adapted the means bodies can acquaintance alive music and appear religious services. But Gesundheit said she’s begin a argent lining.
“Taking abroad the elements that usually accompany a absolution — the bulk of activity that’s expended accepting myself all over the globe, the activity barter in alive performance… I absolutely accept the time to accord with bodies who accept accomplished out to me about the music after accepting to run and bolt a even to the abutting city,” she said. “I anticipate there is activity to be a lot added one-on-one affiliation with people.”
With this album, Gesundheit additionally hopes to acquaint a beyond message.
“It’s not abundant to sing this music and anticipate about these things one day a year in a allowance abounding of Jews. I appetite to contemplate these concepts and allotment this adorableness with lots of altered people,” she said. “With what’s accident in the apple appropriate now… I feel like the assignment advanced of us is too abundant to absolute these conversations.”
“Alphabet of Wrongdoing” can be listened to and purchased on bandcamp, and streamed on Spotify or iTunes. Acquisition added about the almanac by visiting the artist’s website or Instagram @alphabetofwrongdoing.