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The Lost World of African-American Cantors 1915-1953
April 13 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pmDonation
The history of Black-Jewish cultural interaction primarily focuses on how Jews adopted and adapted Black vernacular music — ragtime, jazz, swing, R&B and blues, etc. — as performers, promoters, managers, club owners and record labels. However, what has never before been explored were the African-Americans who performed Yiddish and cantorial music in and for the Jewish community, in theaters on record, radio and in concert between the World Wars. The talk with Henry Sapoznik will honor the memory of now forgotten Black cantors – Mendele der Shvartzer Khazn, Reb Dovid Kalistrita HaCohen der Falash, Abraham Ben Benjamin Franklin, Thomas LaRue Jones and Goldye di Shvartze Khaznte the first – and only — Black woman cantor. The talk will feature dozens of historic graphics and translations of period Yiddish newspaper previews, ads and reviews and the playing of the one known 1923 Yiddish and Hebrew recording of Thomas Jones LaRue.
Henry Sapoznik is an award-winning producer, musicologist and performer, and writer in the fields of traditional and popular Yiddish and American music and culture. Sapoznik, a native Yiddish speaker and child of Holocaust survivors, grew up in an Orthodox home and attended Lubavitch Yeshiva and Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin.
In his teens, Sapoznik was introduced to traditional American music and took up the banjo with lessons from Marc Horowitz and Bill Garbus. He studied with North Carolina masters Fred Cockerham and Tommy Jarrell during numerous trips to North Carolina with the late Ray Alden. In 1972, Sapoznik co-founded the New York-area group The Delaware Water Gap String Band, and confirmed his reputation as a noted player in both southern playing styles and classic ragtime banjo. Sapoznik was the founding director of the sound archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York from 1982 to 1995. While there, Sapoznik founded and directed the internationally acclaimed KlezKamp: The Yiddish Folk Arts Program beginning in 1985 for the next 30 years. A five-time Grammy-nominated producer/performer, Sapoznik has been on over fifty records including having reissued over 30 anthologies of Yiddish, jazz, old-time, cantorial, ragtime, blues, Italian, swing, blackface minstrelsy and bluegrass recordings.