For those familiar with my work, this recording is significantly different from my previous two albums, and is also different from other contemporary Ladino albums out there. Why? Because half the album is original music I’ve written, in Ladino. Very few contemporary artists write their own albums in Ladino today. My mantra is that “Ladino Rocks.” Ladino is not a dead language at all; it is a living, breathing, beautiful language seeped in centuries of rich heritage and culture. By writing new songs in Ladino that will hopefully reach a mainstream audience, I am doing my part to ensure that Ladino does not just get preserved from days of old, but continues to develop and grow today.
To record Gracia (released May 22nd, 2012) I joined forces with the amazing composer and music producer, Shai Bachar. The songs on Gracia (both the original ones and a few radically reinterpreted classic tunes as well), are a mix of feminist, experimental, raw, rock-beat, energetic, empowering, electronic, retro-chic, Mediterranean-infused and fine-crafted, detailed sounds. The album includes some of the finest musicians in New York, Israel, Morocco, Uruguay, Spain, Colombia, Russia and more. In addition to a 16-piece string orchestra on many of the tracks, I have also featured some guest voices and artists such as the incomparable Vanessa Hidary (the Hebrew Mamita), Amos Hoffman (Avishai Cohen band), Roni Ivrin and Mark Kakon (Idan Raichel Band), Nir Graf (Noa, Rita, Shalom Hanoch), Oz Noy (Cyndi Lauper, Phoebe Snow, Bill Evans), Samuel Torres (Lila Downs, Arturo Sandoval) and even a cameo by feminist icon, Gloria Steinem.
The album’s title, “Gracia,” has several deep meanings for me, thanks being one of them. The title itself pays homage to one of my heroes, Dona Gracia Mendes, a 15-century Sephardic woman who saved hundreds from the Spanish Inquisition. She is truly the main inspiration for me for this album—I admire her courage, commitment to preserving culture, and her savvy use of feminism along the way. I hope the music on the album, including the title-track, reflects her amazing qualities.
To learn more about the songs on Gracia, and to read about the inspirations and stories behind the tracks, click here to read my special Tumblr blog (Gracia: Inside) on the inside scoop, track by track.
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Click here to download the Gracia One-Sheet
The Recording of Gracia was made possible in part due to the support of