A singer explores identity in blend of African-American and Yiddish music – OMG



Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell has performed Yiddish music around the world. He is part of a musical duo that creates new interpretations of classic Yiddish songs. In 2017, he even won the Yiddish version of “American Idol.”

Still, the singer gets one request consistently that has nothing to do with Yiddish or klezmer music: to perform traditionally African-American music.

“I always got a little defensive about that because if I’m going to literally perform my blackness for an audience, I want it to be on my terms. I don’t want the terms dictated to me,” the 37-year-old former opera singer, who is black and Jewish, told JTA.

In “Convergence,” Russell aims to do just that, melding Jewish songs, mostly in Yiddish, with traditional African-American ones. The…

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