By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia cultural center is hosting its inaugural citywide Jewish Music Festival beginning this week.
Presented by the Gershman Y, the nine-day festival will showcase the musical amalgamations of artists of Jewish ancestry from around the world.
“It’s music that engages in the culture of Jews where ever they’ve lived around the world through different time periods,” said Warren Hoffman.
He is the senior director of programming for the Gershman Y.
Hoffman said, “they’ve taken in the influences of the places where they’ve lived and worked and that is reflected in the music.”
Hoffman said the event will be Philadelphia’s first citywide festival of all Jewish music.
“We wanted to find a new way to explore Jewish culture in the city,” he said, “and while there are Jewish artists here other organizations have brought people in, no one ever presented Jewish music as a number of artists all at once.”
Jewish music is extremely diverse, ranging from reggae, jazz and blues to more American Broadway music.
To showcase the span of the music, Hoffman said Saul Kaye will open the festival at the Gershman Y on May 1st a new genre of music, “Jewish Blues.”
“He’s doing delta blues style music, but just with Jewish and Hebrew style text,” said Hoffman. “It’s just this really great combination that is just really unexpected. It’s really awesome to listen to.”
Other artists include Philadelphia singer/songwriter Julie Lipson who will present a night of Jewish “chants” and Michael Feinstein who will perform from the beloved Gershwin repoitoire.
“The Gershwins are Jewish Music, but they’re also very American and Broadway and the great American songbook,” Hoffman said.
The festival runs May 1st through 9th and will be featured at a variety of venues.