Product Review: Music for the Soul
January 26, 2016
Jewish Soul by Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray

Jewish Soul by Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray

Turn on a little music and you’ll change your day – guaranteed. There’s something about the sound of a lilting voice and strumming instruments that moves the soul. Music can uplift the listener, bringing him or her to smile, sway and dance – or it can touch the deepest parts of one’s emotions, stirring memories of long ago. Of course, the greatest success of music can be found when it spiritually arouses a person, bringing him or her closer to G-d.

The music of the Jewish prayer service has long succeeded in doing just that for generation upon generation of Jews. The Levites played music in the Holy Temple, which had an orchestra consisting of twelve instruments, as well as a choir of twelve singers. Some of the Jewish liturgical songs date back hundreds of years, with several of the Sabbath songs, like “Dror Yikra,” dating as far back as the 10th century. Sephardic Jewry has a rich history of traditional choruses and songs of request going back at least to the expulsion from Spain, and improvised tunes  have become closely associated with the Hassidic movement.


Long-time music lovers and real aficionados, as well as those who just enjoy a good tune, will find something to sing along with, hum to and be inspired by on this Jewish Soul album by Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray. A fourth-generation cantor, Mrs. Katchko-Gray is the founder of the Women Cantors Network and her work is featured in the National Museum of American Jewish History. She has authored a songbook, teaches chazzanut (cantorial skills), plays cello for the Danbury, Connecticut Community Orchestra, and is active in numerous Jewish women’s organizations, among many other professional pursuits. Her multifaceted career and abundant talent have led her to craft individualized musical programs and performances, as well as create ten audio CDs.

What makes her music so unique is her ability to sing across the spectrum, as if she’s encompassing the entire Jewish experience in song. Her voice carries us through the beautiful and traditional synagogue tunes, takes us along to the tents of Yemen, brings us through the Yiddish-speaking European shtetl and conveys us right back to modern America with folksy songs reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and Bonnie Raitt. Her music is both worldly and homey. It’s spiritual and artsy. It’s klezmer and Arabic. It’s inspirational and funny. Come along, join me in listening — and maybe break into song yourself.   

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