All that we crave and need is love and support in its many manifestations. My mom always gave me that, every song I made, every poem I wrote, every show I played. Her and my Savta and my entire Yemenite family were the inspiration for both Shemspeed (the label I started back in the day and toured the world with (Moscow, Sidney, Paris, London, Israel, Berlin, Ukraine and literally all over the states…) and the big inspiration behind my Sephardic Music Festival which ran for 12 years in NY and LA over the 8 days of Chanukah every year. Both The NY Times and The Wall Street Journal covered the fest with 2 pages spreads and photos, it was incredible and the tens of thousands of people that would come to the sold out events (shows, symposiums, parties, family events) over the years, had gotten a little bit of a taste of the music and history of the Jews indigenous to the Middle East. And hopefully saw how much shared culture and history we have with all the peoples in that area. So much of division and hate is based on lack of knowledge and history and a focus on the “Other”. My purpose in putting these festivals on year after year was to not focus on people as Others, but as Oneness.
My mom would come up every year for opening or closing night of the festival and get to see sold out crowds enjoying the sort of music she had me grow up listening to. The two compilations I put out which you could hear on Spotify… have Matisyahu with Yehuda Solomon singing a Yemenite chorus from the diwan, the legendary songstress Yasmin Levy, Watcha Clan, Yair Dallal, Sarah Aroeste in ladino being remixed by Tamir of Balkan Beat Box and so many more Incredible artists, just all the sorts of music my mom and I love so much.
I’m on a flight on the way back East again to see her scared I might not arrive in time, so I called my friend Idan Raichel to sing and let her know I’m on my way, he did just that and it just shows how much love there is around her. I really just want to thank all the hundreds of musicians that believed in all these projects because the truth is, it was all born of a dream my mom had. Love y’all!
** my mom is the big sister on the left.