Kim and Reggie Harris & Rabbi Jonathan Kligler | Let My People Go!

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Folk: Traditional Folk Kids/Family: Kid Friendly Moods: Spiritual
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Let My People Go!

by Kim and Reggie Harris & Rabbi Jonathan Kligler

A Jewish and African American celebration of freedom in song and story, featuring Pete Seeger and many other guests.
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. B'chol Dor Va'Dor (In Every Generation) / I'm On My Way
4:11 album only
2. Ha Lachma Anya (This is the Bread of Oppression)
2:13 album only
3. Avodim Hayinu (Slaves We Were)
1:31 album only
4. In the Mississippi River
4:03 album only
5. Remembering Phil Ochs (spoken)
1:06 album only
6. What's That I Hear
5:02 album only
7. The New Colossus / Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor / Motherless Ch
4:05 album only
8. Democratic National Convention 1964
7:07 album only
9. Mah Lecha Ha'yam (Sea, Why Do You Flee?)
3:11 album only
10. Man Come into Egypt
3:24 album only
11. Ilu Finu (Were Our Mouths Oceans of Song)
4:46 album only
12. Let My People Go: Story of an Activist's Life (spoken)
6:09 album only
13. Freedom Road
4:24 album only
14. I Have a Million Nightingales
5:06 album only
15. Venomar Lefanav (Let Us Sing a New Song)
2:18 album only
16. We Shall Overcome: Evolution of a Song
3:13 album only
17. Ani Ma'amin (I Believe) / We Shall Overcome
5:35 album only
18. I Won't Turn Back
4:42 album only


Album Notes
Living in our fragmented world, veteran African American folksinging couple Kim and Reggie Harris have always conveyed a central message in their hundreds of yearly musical performances and educational workshops - we are one! While celebrating our many differences, such as race, religion and nationality, we are all part of humankind and must work toward peace, freedom and understanding through activism, solidarity and faith in the human capacity for goodness.

"Let My People Go!" presents a memorable analogy in song and spoken word between the story of the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt in the 13th Century B.C.E., as retold at the annual Passover Seder meal, and the African American struggle toward equality in America as exemplified by the mid-Sixties Civil Rights Movement, in which many Jewish activists were involved. No preaching, no heavy-handed didactics - this is an uplifting and enlightening celebration of accomplishment through action.

The CD's rich tapestry of music and history is the outgrowth of a friendship forged at a late '80s Phil Jackson-led basketball camp between musician/activist Reggie Harris and Jonathan Kligler, then a rabbinical student and now the spiritual leader of Kehillat Lev Shalem, the Woodstock Jewish Congregation in upstate New York. Their relationship grew to include their families, the Harrises' attendance at the annual Kligler Seders, and the concept for this collaboration: that oppression, struggle and hope are a common ground between the Jewish and African American communities.

"Let My People Go!" seamlessly interweaves songs in Hebrew from the Passover Haggadah, the book chronicling the Jews' exodus from Egypt, with traditional Black Spirituals carrying the ideals of equality and freedom, and songs from the Civil Rights era by Phil Ochs ("What's That I Hear") and Freedom Singers Marshall and Matt Jones (who perform their respective compositions "In the Mississippi River," a gospel-blues about the three Civil Rights activists slain in 1964, and the CD-closing statement of faith and purpose, "I Won't Turn Back"). There is also a moving poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, "I Have a Million Nightingales, set to music by Jewish cantor Linda Hirschhorn, and a new composition by Kim and Reggie - "Freedom Road" - that summarizes the unquenchable desire for and journey toward equality and self-determination.

Interspersed with the songs are spoken firsthand accounts of watershed events in the modern civil rights movement: African American activist Juanita Nelson, describes her desegregation battles in Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati; Rabbi Arthur Waskow tells of his lifechanging encounters with Fannie Lou Hamer and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1964 Democratic National Convention; musical and humanitarian activist icon Pete Seeger recounts the evolution of "We Shall Overcome" from a Spiritual to a late 19th Century union rallying cry to its eventual use as a civil rights anthem and statement of determination; WRPI folk radio program host Sonny Ochs recalls her late brother Phil's commitment to justice and equality in many of his songs.

An appropriately diverse musical cast was assembled for the CD: augmenting Kim and Reggie's exuberant lead vocals and glorious trademark harmonies, Rabbi Kligler's rich baritone, and Reggie's exemplary acoustic guitarwork is a melting pot of co-celebrants that includes folk musicians/educators Bill and Livia Vanaver, keyboardist David Sancious (formerly of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band), bassist Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel) and lead guitarist John Platania (Van Morrison, Don McLean), among others. Clarinetist Peter Davis adds a high-spirited Klezmer sound to several tracks, and Rabbi Kligler's congregation adds vocals to the celebratory "Ilu Finu" and traditional Spiritual "I'm on My Way." In keeping with the family-oriented spirit of the project, Rabbi Kligler's wife, Ellen Jahoda, recites the sonnet at the base of the Statue of Liberty on a medley of "The New Colossus" (the poem), Irving Berlin's melody "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor," and the African American Spiritual "Motherless Child"; his 11-year-old daughter Timna chants a thousand-year-old Jewish declaration of faith, "Ani Ma'amin," that leads into a gospel-flavored rendition of "We Shall Overcome" featuring a hopeful rap by Kim and Reggie's teenaged nephew, LeVonn Brown.

The Harrises and Rabbi Kligler will present music from "Let My People Go!" at select festivals, concert appearances, community gatherings, and workshops in upcoming months, and a DVD of their live presentation is in the planning stages.

Singers, songwriters, storytellers, educators - for the past 25 years, Kim and Reggie Harris have been taking their mixture of contemporary and historically-oriented folk music and positive social messages to festivals, clubs, colleges, schools, teaching workshops, and even to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The Harrises' best-known recording, "Steal Away: Songs of the Underground Railroad" (Appleseed, 1997), is a much-used teaching tool during the annual Black History Month, serves as the backbone of their popular "Music and the Underground Railroad" workshops, and is a staple educational aid in many American historical museums.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, both Kim and Reggie were exposed to a wide range of music throughout their childhoods. They met at a summer camp in 1974 and continued their friendship that fall as fellow students at Temple University. As their personal relationship deepened, they combined their vibrant voices and Reggie's guitar skills and began performing at local Philadelphia clubs and coffeehouses. They were married in 1976, and by 1980 had begun a tour schedule that still averages 300 performances a year. In their travels across the US and Canada, they have opened for and performed with such artists as Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Eric Andersen and Don McLean..

Writing songs together, alone, or with other musicians, the Harrises' compositions have addressed politics, domestic violence, the human family, the joys and sorrows of love, and a constant underlying theme of social activism. Their lighthearted paean to automobile seatbelts, "Passive Restraint," has been featured on National Public Radio's syndicated "Car Talk" program. With an additional repertoire of Spirituals and freedom songs drawn from their cultural background, Kim and Reggie's music carries on the folk tradition of preserving important songs from the past and adding meaningful new songs from the world around them.

The Harrises have long held a special affinity for the songs of the late Phil Ochs, the Sixties folksinger-songwriter who exemplified the social conscience of the era's musical protest movement. Kim and Reggie are mainstays of a group of musicians who have toured the country for the past 15 years, keeping Ochs' music alive in a series of Phil Ochs Song Nights.

"Let My People Go!" is the Harrises' ninth recording to date; their five most recent releases have appeared on Appleseed. They have also contributed tracks to all three of Appleseed's acclaimed trio of tributes to the music of Pete Seeger: "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "If I Had a Song," and Grammy-finalist "Seeds."

The Harrises have also composed and arranged music for television, radio, video, and multi-media presentations. As part of their ongoing work in education, they are presenters in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts touring workshop program, providing teacher training that encourages use of the arts in the classroom. In their "spare time," Kim is continuing her studies toward a Master of Divinity degree at New York's Union Theological Seminary and Reggie volunteers as a basketball coach and youth mentor in their upstate New York community.


Born in White Plains, NY, Rabbi Jonathan Kligler has been bringing people together through song, dance and joy for more than 30 years since his days as a teenage songleader at summer camp. Kligler's eclectic resume includes professional mime, children's performer and teacher of improvisational dance. Ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside Philadelphia, Pa., Rabbi Kligler has been the spiritual leader of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, Kehillat Lev Shalem (which means "the Congregation of the Full Heart"), in Woodstock, NY, since 1988.

Rabbi Kligler has two previous CDs to his credit: a live concert recording of American and Israeli folk songs called "Songs of Love, Hope and Courage," and "Come My Friend: Songs and Blessings for Shabbat" (with Zoe. B. Zak).



to write a review

Carolyn Cirnitski, member WJC

Great music - keep it comin'!
I loved this CD, and also like some of your earlier work, too, like "In the Heat of Summer". You two have a wonderful harmony going, which is such a pleasure to listen to, either on CD, or in live performance. Kim - you have a beatiful voice, and tremendous range, and Reggie has this very joyous quality which is .... contagious!! Hope you return to our area (Hudson Valley) before too long. I'll tell everyone to come!! Thanks, Carolyn. (I sent this CD to my uncle, a stalwart supporter of the Hebrew College in Boston)

Monique Mayer

This is a fantastic CD. After listening to an excerpt from "Ilu Finu" on the website, I decided I had to buy this CD, and I fully expected to be underwhelmed by the other tracks (as often happens with CDs). To my surprise, this CD far surpassed my expectations. I love the bringing together of African American and Jewish struggles and melodies--the music and stories are so uplifting and powerful. Thank you!

Leah Oppenheim

A rich cultural experience
This CD beautifully represents the individual and mutual histories of the African-American and Jewish struggles. Several tracks literally moved me to tears as simple, haunting melodies evoke slavery in the U.S., the Holocaust, the struggle for civil rights, and today's conflicts in the Middle East. There's a lot of work to be done, but music brings us together. Thank you, Kim and Reggie and Jonathan.

Elaine Ricklin

The music on this CD is heard with the ears and felt with the heart.
If it is possible to wear out a CD this will be the one. I play it over and over and love the music so much that I bought one as a gift for a musician friend in PA and had it sent to her. She loves it so much, that no only did she call to thank me but she BLESSED ME for sending it to her. WOW!

Wayne Goldman

Great CD. Lovely melodies. Wonderful voices
A great CD, KIM AND REGGIE HARRIS & RABBI JONATHAN KLIGLER: Let My People Go mixes great traditional Jewish music, with great African American freedom songs, with great Civil Rights music with great modern music about freedom. A wonderful collection.

Phil Kane

Stellar musical performance, love, spirit & more love.
What an incredible concept this album presents. It is a beautiful celebration of shared cultural and life experiences. The harmonies, energy, love, and spirit that Kim, Reggie, Jonathan, et al give to us on this album will whisk you away on an amazing musical journey. And while there is so much history on this album, really that history is so much about right now. More than once a joyful tear fell from my eyes. Oh, I almost forgot, the quality of the CD is excellent; clean, clear and very well mixed. I'd love to hear this in surround sound on SACD or DVD-Audio.