New Songs for Old Prayers
Epichorus, led by a rabbinical student and with a Sudanese Muslim singer, redefines devotional music
Zach Fredman is a musician, composer, and rabbi-in-training now in his fifth year at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Over the past several years, he has worked to combine his spiritual and musical passions by composing devotional songs that draw on his favorite musical traditions. Those include Indian raga, North African rhythms and forms of chanting, as well as the Grateful Dead and Aretha Franklin.
For lyrics, he turned to Torah and other religious texts. For collaborators, he turned to musicians whose work, like his, isn’t easily categorized. Perhaps most surprising is his singer Alsarah, a Muslim woman who grew up in Sudan and Yemen, went to Wesleyan University, and now leads the band Alsarah and the Nubatones from her base in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Together, the 10-person band, which is called the Epichorus, is releasing their first album, One Bead, available here at the end of this week.
Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry talks with Zach Fredman and Alsarah in Fredman’s Harlem apartment about their musical influences, what they’re trying to accomplish with this project, and how they owe their collaboration, at least in part, to a late night YouTube bender. [Running time: 21:54.]
What a character named Adolf Critler means for the future of video games and the First Amendment
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.