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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Passing of Adrienne Cooper...long live badass Yiddish music

Adrienne Cooper, one of the great singers, teachers, and activists for Yiddish language and music passed this weekend. Obituaries are running in media outlets around the Jewish world including Haaretz, The Jewish Week, the JTA, and the Forward. There is little I can add to all of the great and deep thoughts about her that have been put forth, except this one thing. In a moment of apparent synchronicity, the following tweet circulated yesterday (from @neville_park in Toronto)
Hey, Hey, Down with the Police", "Working Women", "Ballad of the Triangle Fire"—Yiddish music is pretty badass: http://j.mp/rzPZLo

In Love And Struggle album coverThe badass recording @neville_park is referring to is "In Love And In Struggle: The Musical Legacy Of The Jewish Labor Bund" (YIVO) which includes performances by Zalmen Mlotek, Adrienne Cooper, Dan Rous with The New Yiddish Chorale & The Workmen's Circle Chorus. You see, Cooper's involvement in Yiddish music was not limited to the nice songs. The happy songs. The nostalgic songs. To singing yet another chorus of Oyfn Pripetchik or Rozhinkes mit Mandln. Cooper also sang Arbeter-froyen (Working Woman) and the musical Queer Wedding Sweet, and wrote articles for Lilth and The Forward titled "He Beat Me Black and Blue: Yiddish Songs of Family Violence" Cooper, more than any of her peers, helped transmit the wide spectrum of Yiddish song .... including the gritty, raw, anger, anguish, humor and joy that was Yiddish life and song. And in doing this, Cooper has helped inspire a new generation of musicians, including my fav Yiddish anarchist troubadour Daniel Kahn, cut through the schmaltz.

So, yeah. Yiddish music is pretty badass and Cooper will be very missed.

Here's Cooper (center), along with Sharon Bernstein & Jeanette Lewicki, singing a trio of Women's Working songs.

Yiddish Trio - Women's Worker Songs (Yiddish Song)


And, just because I love it and it's badass, here's Daniel Kahn, Psoy Korolenko, Oy Division performing "Rakhmones afn Tayvl / Sympathy for Whom?"

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