Home June 2012 Spirit of Reb Shlomo

Spirit of Reb Shlomo

Soft-spoken but driven, Yehudah Green has made his mark on the world of Jewish music with the style of Shlomo Carlebach and the desire to connect to everyone in the international language of music.
Green, who was born into a prominent Chassidic family in Jerusalem, received his first exposure to the music of Reb Shlomo Carlebach at the age of five when his brothers brought one of his albums home.  He was confused that someone who looked like a chazzan could be holding a guitar, but he was transfixed by the music.  He heard Carlebach in person for the first time three years later.  Despite his youth, Green immediately connected with Carlebach’s sincere soulfulness and absorbed its essence into his “musical DNA” and into his performance style.
At the age of 20, the two shared the stage for the first time and immediately connected as kindred spirits.  That night evolved into a relationship that became the musical equivalent of “the passing of the torch.” Despite his perpetually busy performance schedule, Carlebach made it a point to join Green at least three times a year in Israel for standing-room only performances that became “the hottest ticket in town” – regardless of who else happened to be in town.
Those now legendary performances led to an inevitable invitation to the famed Carlebach Shul on Manhattan’s upper West Side, where Green’s honest, earthy style immediately set him apart from the countless singers who incorporate interpretations of Carlebach into their performances. Perhaps the greatest compliment of all came about 10 years ago when Green was chosen to lead services during the High Holy Days.
Like the legend who inspires him both personally and professionally, Green’s fan base is a “living lesson” in Jewish demography.  The audiences at his sold-out concerts include religious and secular Jews.  Green believes that everybody can understand his music.  Its honesty unites Jewish people as only the almost universal Jewish love of song can.  Whether it is an intimate kumsitz or a sold out concert, Green’s style evokes an emotional response reminiscent of Carlebach’s.
Green explained, “Music is about honesty – not affectation.  Since childhood, my music and singing just naturally went in Shlomo’s direction…it’s that emes (truth; honesty) that connects with audiences and lets them respond on a much deeper level.”
He added, “My music is his spirit.  I cannot do a CD without singing his songs.  I have to compose songs in his spirit.  I also want to communicate his message when I sing – that when someone comes into the synagogue, he should be engaged in the spirituality.
According to Larry Gordon of Five Towns Jewish Times, “It’s difficult to say that Green or anyone else is the new Carlebach.  Let it suffice to say that Green’s creativity and his musical inroads are a tribute to Shlomo’s music that lives on in our hearts, our minds, and lips as we still sing along with Shlomo almost 20 years after his passing.”
Green’s third album, “Peace in My Heart,” contains a combination of his own compositions as well as tunes composed by Carlebach.  He continues to study and sing Carlebach’s music, collaborates closely with Shlomo’s daughter, Neshama, and serves as the chazzan at the Carlebach Shul in New York, where he leads the services on alternating Shabbats and travels the rest of the time.  Gordon, who described the new album as being “breezy, up-tempo, while also being soulful, moving, and inspiring,” said that “Green interprets Carlebach music like no other performer out there today. Unlike others, he’s not just singing a Shlomo Carlebach composition but is rather feeling it and sharing with his listeners and audiences.”
In the same fashion as his mentor, Green likes to compose music on the spot, sometimes without music.  The first time Green entered a recording studio with musicians, he did not have nor did he create any sheet music for the session.  The musicians were “both confused and bemused,” but Green sang and played the music for them to follow.  He believes the result was better than a mechanical rendition of following the notes would have been.
“People have a revolution in their lives because of the impact of Reb Shlomo’s music – and it’s never too late,” Green concluded.  “To be able to make a difference by keeping that spirit alive is gratifying.”  For more information, visit www.yehudagreen.com.

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