The Bashevis Singers are the children of generations of people who lived their lives in Yiddish. Husky Gawenda and his cousin Gideon Preiss are renowned Australian musicians and award winning song-writers. They are the core members of the critically acclaimed band HUSKY. Husky’s sister (and Gideon’s cousin) Evie is a playwright and theatre director who is known and loved for the beauty and warmth of her voice.
When they sing in Yiddish, the past, the present and the future are rendered timeless. In Yiddish, the thousand year old language of the Jews who lived in the shtetls and towns and cities of Eastern Europe. They sing songs of hope and of fear, songs like prayers and songs like arguments with God. Eternal songs. In Yiddish, which the Nobel prize winning Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer described as the language of a frightened and hopeful humanity.
The album they have recorded is a unique labor of love. The songs span almost a century. Some are classic Yiddish folk songs written by legends, at a time and in a place long gone. Some are poems set to music, written by the great poets of Eastern Europe and America. Some are songs of the Yiddish musical theatre, songs of celebration and joy. There are songs that were written in America and in Israel as well as in Poland and Russia, songs of love and sadness and life’s disappointments, without ever giving in to cynicism and hopelessness.
Some of the best Australian musicians play on the album. The multiple award winning Polish composer Cezary Skubiszewski has arranged the strings. The Sholem Aleichem School choir sing on the album. The singing of the children from this school, the only Yiddish day school in the world, is hauntingly beautiful. The much-loved Melbourne singing Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn sings a duet with Husky in one of the greatest songs of longing, for the coming of the Messiah, ever written.
For one of the most beloved Yiddish lullabies, three generations of mothers sing together. Evie and Husky’s grandmother, their mother Anne and her daughter Evie sound as if they are singing for every child ever born.
There are two very special songs on this album. They are songs by the well-known journalist and writer Michael Gawenda, and his son Husky Gawenda. Performed on the album by The Bashevis Singers, these songs are a sort of gift to their past and a proclamation of faith in their future.
This album is proof that dreams can be fulfilled and that music and song transcend time and place and feed our hunger for a deeper meaning.
The album has been supported by charitable foundations and by individuals who love Yiddish but it is not an album for Yiddish lovers alone. It is for everyone, for everyone who loves great songs.
In The Bashevis Singers, the chain of Yiddish is unbroken.