Celebrate women in Jewish and Yiddish music with Di Shvester: The Sisters. Two of New York’s finest vocalists, Eleanor Reissa and Cilla Owens, will harmonize, swing, and groove through the vast and varied world of Jewish composers, lyricists, and songstresses. Reissa and Owens have interpreted this music for decades as soloists and bring their experiences and talents together for a foot-tapping, heart-grabbing concert. This concert salutes the rich culture of Jewish women in Yiddish folk and art songs, including the Barry Sisters.
Reissa and Owens will be reunited with musical director, composer, and saxophonist Paul Shapiro whose career has traversed jazz, R&B, and Yiddishkeit. The three recently performed together at the 10th anniversary of the Yiddish Book Center’s annual Yidstock: the Festival of New Yiddish Music.
This event is part of Carnegie Hall’s season-long exploration of the many contributions that women have made to the world of music and is co-presented by the Yiddish Book Center.
Eleanor Reissa is a Tony-nominated director; Broadway, film, and television actress; a prize-winning playwright; and an international singing artist. A storyteller in English and Yiddish, she has sung in every major musical venue in New York City and in festivals around the world. Current film and television credits include The Plot Against America, Dead City, (a sequel to The Walking Dead), and The Zweiflers (a new German television series). She hosts Yale University’s podcast: “Those Who Were There: Voices from the Holocaust,” and is the audio guide narrator of “The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do,” the latest exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Her book, The Letters Project: A Daughter’s Journey was recently published by Post Hill Press.
Cilla Owens has been called “as smooth as Nancy Wilson, as authoritative as Sarah Vaughan, and as informed as Carmen McRae” by Jazztimes. She was a longtime member of The Great Day Chorale founded by the late musicologist Louvinia Pointer dedicated to the preservation of the Spiritual. Cilla was a Katowitz-Radin Artist in Residence at the Brooklyn Public Library in 2015, where she presented Lebendig in Brooklyn, a tribute to Yiddish Theater beyond Second Avenue. She has been a featured vocalist with Jacques D’Amboise’s National Dance Institute, has directed the Hunter College Jazz Vocal Workshop, and currently directs the Adelphi University Jazz Ensemble. Owens can be heard on her album, “Tis What It Is.”
Paul Shapiro is a saxophonist, bandleader, and composer. His recordings on John Zorn’s Tzadik label starting with Midnight Minyan in 2003 proved to be transformative, as he reimagined traditional synagogue melodies through a jazz lens. Soon after he formed the Ribs & Brisket Revue planting its musical heels where the Borscht Belt intersected 52nd Street. Shapiro has composed for film, most notably an original score to accompany the 1925 silent film “His People” and the award winning “Watermelon Woman” directed by Cheryl Dunye. His recording credits include Lou Reed, Queen Latifah, David Byrne, Rufus Wainwright, Jay-Z, Frankie Knuckles, Ofra Haza, Michael Jackson, The Microscopic Septet, Brooklyn Funk Essentials, and his own 80’s punk funk band Foreign Legion.