A Season of Singing

Creating Feminist Jewish Music in the United States

Sarah M. Ross

A Season of Singing

Sarah M. Ross

Distributed for Brandeis University Press

296 pages | 6 x 9
Paper $40.00 ISBN: 9781611689600 Published August 2016
Cloth $85.00 ISBN: 9781611689594 Published August 2016
In the 1960s, Jewish music in America began to evolve. Traditional liturgical tunes developed into a blend of secular and sacred sound that became known in the 1980s as “American Nusach.” Chief among these developments was the growth of feminist Jewish songwriting. In this lively study, Sarah M. Ross brings together scholarship on Jewish liturgy, U.S. history, and musical ethnology to describe the multiple roots and development of feminist Jewish music in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Focusing on the work of prolific songwriters such as Debbie Friedman, Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael, Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel, and Linda Hirschhorn, this volume illuminates the biographies and oeuvres of innovators in the field, and shows how this new musical form arose from the rich contexts of feminism, identity politics, folk music, and Judaism. In addition to providing deep content analysis of individual songs, Ross examines the feminist Jewish music scene across the United States, the reception of this music, challenges to disseminating the music beyond informal settings, and the state of Jewish music publishing. Rounding out the picture of the transformation of Jewish music, the volume contains appendixes of songs and songwriters a selection of musical transcriptions of feminist Jewish songs, and a comprehensive discography. This book will interest scholars and students in the fields of American Jewish history, women’s studies, feminism, ethnomusicology, and contemporary popular and folk music.
Contents
Foreword • Preface • Acknowledgments • Introduction • PART 1 • Who Sings unto God? Pioneer Feminist Jewish Singer-Songwriters in the United States • The Feminist Jewish Music Scene • PART 2 • Feminist Voices in the Lyricists’ Choice: A Content Analysis • The Musical Conception of Feminist Jewish Songwriting • Conclusion: Feminist Jewish Music: Balancing between Jewish Tradition and Feminist Innovation • Appendix A: A Note on Fieldwork • Appendix B: The Source Materials • Appendix C: A List of Selected Feminist Jewish Songs • Notes • Glossary of Hebrew Terms • References • Index
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