Monday, February 12, 2007

The Klezmatics win the Grammy Award!

This morning my Yiddish heart soars like an odler (eagle) to hear the news: The Klezmatics have won the Grammy Award (albeit in category 73 for best contemporary World Music Recording (beating out Salif Keita and Ladysmith Black Mambazo) for their recent release Woody Guthrie's Wonder Wheel. This is probably the first time a recording of Klezmer-based anything has ever won a commercial award on this scale. (I’m pretty sure Naftule Brandwein never won a Grammy.) (Photos by Fumie Suzuki)More about the CD from the Woody Guthrie site. “Guthrie’s Jewish lyrics can be traced to the unusual collaborative relationship he had with his mother-in-law, Aliza Greenblatt, a prominent Yiddish poet who lived across from Guthrie and his family in Brooklyn in the 1940s. Guthrie – the Oklahoma troubadour – and Greenblatt – the Jewish wordsmith – often discussed their artistic projects and critiqued each other’s works, finding common ground in their shared love of culture and social justice, despite very different backgrounds… Woody Guthrie’s Jewish lyrics came as a surprise to Nora Guthrie, director of the Woody Guthrie Archives and Woody’s daughter. She became aware of his connection to Judaism only recently, in a chance encounter with the Klezmatics and Itzhak Perlman.All I can say is that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer crew of musicians than the Klezmatics, who have been slaving away for over twenty years popularizing Jewish music as a contemporary expression. They know their traditional Jewish music, they are masters of modern music, they’ve put in their sleepless nights and their road time, and they are not faking it. They deserve to come out of the shadows of the alternative scene and get the mainstream attention they really deserve. Frank London and Matt Dariau, in particular, are old buddies of mine from our days in the musical salt mines of Boston, Mass, in the 1980s. Having just read Michael Wex’sBorn To Kvetch” I would have to add - in the spirit of Yiddish paracommunication - that the Grammy Awards themselves are a bit of dumb fluff in general… just to kvetch. OK, the Dixie Chicks took Best Song... And the Native Ameerican category the Northern Cree were in the running - it is always good to see the Northern Cree beating out anybody... but… There is no category for “Jewish Music” while there are lots of different categories for Hispanic music including “Best Banda Recording” “Best Tejano recording” and “Best Norteno Recording” (what? No “Best Vallenato Recording?") But then again, Wex - who has also written Yiddish lyrics for the Klezmatics - is no longer living in his usual and accustomed state of abject heart-rending penury since “Born to Kvetch” hit the NY Times bestsellers list, so it has been a good year in general for modern Yiddish culture. Even The Rootless Cosmopolitan finds room to kvetch regarding the similarities between the Klezmatics and former Grammy Award winners Milli Vanilli…

2 comments:

DJK said...

You are so right! we deserve a category! keep up the good work...

Pink Granite said...

Hi-
Thanks for the heads up. You might be interested to know that Apple iTunes included the Klezmatics winning album in their 2007 Grammy Awards e-mail which came out yesterday. They were one of only twenty albums featured!
- Lee