Sharon Goldman | Kol Isha (A Woman's Voice)

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Folk: Singer/Songwriter World: World Traditions Moods: Mood: Intellectual
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Kol Isha (A Woman's Voice)

by Sharon Goldman

A bold, unique song journey merging Jewish imagery, myth and memories with a modern, feminist perspective, mixing middle-eastern rhythms with slide guitar grooves, hints of blues, haunting piano and soulful vocals.
Genre: Folk: Singer/Songwriter
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Tribe
4:11 $0.99
2. Song of Songs
3:09 $0.99
3. Jerusalem (Yerushalayim)
3:23 $0.99
4. Lilith
2:54 $0.99
5. Pillar of Salt
3:31 $0.99
6. Rose of Sharon
2:37 $0.99
7. The Sabbath Queen
3:27 $0.99
8. In My Bones
4:11 $0.99
9. The Bride
3:48 $0.99
10. Land of Milk and Honey
3:26 $0.99
11. I Could Have Sworn
3:21 $0.99
12. Kol Isha (A Woman's Voice)
3:30 $0.99
13. Three Stars
3:45 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Lots of musicians and songwriters explore and celebrate the “roots” of the music they love. But Sharon Goldman’s new album KOL ISHA (A Woman’s Voice) gives “roots music” a whole new meaning. Over the course of 12 years on the folk music circuit and with a half-dozen solo and collaborative albums to her credit, Goldman fixed herself firmly in the American singer-songwriter tradition that goes back to Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. But KOL ISHA brings something more personal and much more unique.

Digging deep into her Orthodox Jewish childhood, the now firmly-secular New Jersey-based singer-songwriter has emerged with a song cycle that is by turns deeply feminist, conflicted, and yearning. The songs chart her journey to find her voice as a passionate woman; a lifelong questioner; and a constant seeker. Through this journey uniquely her own, she invites us into a universal spirit of candid reflection and transformation.

“Kol Isha” literally means “a woman’s voice.” But in Orthodox Jewish tradition the phrase actually designates a prohibition against men hearing women sing, as a female voice lifted in song is considered immodest. “Silence, silence, girl,” is the harsh message Goldman recalls feeling in the title track.

What a potentially suffocating irony for a Jewish singer-songwriter delving into her roots for artistic inspiration and self-actualization. Yet the results are magical. Mining the poetry of her background, including stories of biblical and mythical women – Lilith, the Sabbath Queen, the lovers in the Song of Songs – and bringing her creative imagination to bear, Goldman finds and polishes gem after gem. KOL ISHA’s 13 songs dig into memories of prayers and rituals; of roads not taken; and, of course, of voices not heard.

Like most personal artistic explorations, KOL ISHA is shot through with more questions than answers. It highlights conflicts born of contradictions and competing loyalties. It reflects a songwriter’s hunger to know herself and her place in the world – with a deep level of honesty that comes through even in song stories that are totally imagined.

“Let me hear your voice,” sings the male lover in the biblical Song of Songs. Goldman zeroes in on that line in her song of the same name, based on the Old Testament verses, directly contradicting the prohibition ordered by later religious authorities. In “The Bride,” she gives the image an ironic twist by quoting lines from a traditional Jewish wedding song: “voice of joy, voice of gladness, voice of the groom and voice of the bride.”

Using that defiant feminine voice, she evokes female characters from history, myth and the Bible: recounting the story of Adam’s first wife in “Lilith”; rescuing Lot’s nameless wife from cautionary-tale anonymity in “Pillar of Salt”; calling on Deborah and Miriam in the title track; and, in “Sabbath Queen,” demystifying that regal symbol of divine perfection by pointing out the “blisters on her feet” and the “dark circles ‘round her eyes.”

Goldman’s journey takes her into the gritty present as well as the mythical past, casting an eye on the Israel of dreams (“Jerusalem”) and of reality “(Land of Milk and Honey)”; the paradoxes of personal identity (“The Tribe”); and the pain of losing a loved one (“I Could Have Sworn”).

KOL ISHA is a project that will speak to anyone who has ever tried to rediscover childhood rituals; struggled to tap into their own truth; drawn close to something and then pushed it away; and struggled to understand his or her own decisions and actions.

KOL ISHA mixes middle-eastern rhythms with slide guitar grooves, hints of blues, haunting piano and soulful vocals. It includes 12 original songs as well as one cover (Eliza Gilkyson's "Rose of Sharon," reinterpreted on solo piano). The album was co-produced by Goldman with Stephen Murphy (Sloan Wainwright), and engineered by Mark Dann (Richie Havens, Christine Lavin). It features Cheryl Prashker on percussion, Craig Akin on upright bass and Laura Wolfe on harmonium and violin, and includes guest appearances from Red Molly’s Abbie Gardner on dobro (on “Lilith”), Brian Prunka on oud and Amy Soucy on background vocals.

“Sharon Goldman has done something quite remarkable, merging the cadences of ancient Hebrew liturgy with a contemporary feminist perspective on modern Jewish and American life. Despite its historic roots, her work is easily accessible to anyone who appreciates intelligent, poetic, musically-compelling folk.” - Singer-songwriter and activist Si Kahn

“What’s most striking about Goldman’s new song cycle is that it’s as universal as it is rooted in centuries of tradition…a radical departure, and a genuinely brave move for her, an examination of her conflicted roots as a secular Jewish artist raised in the Modern Orthodox tradition.” - Alan Young, New York Music Daily

“Musically, emotionally and intellectually moving, all in one” - Jon Sobel, Blogcritics

Sharon Goldman is a New Jersey-based singer-songwriter whose intelligent, inventive storytelling has led to appearances in the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artists showcase; the NERFA Folk-DJ and Boston One-Day showcases; and WFUV’s John Platt’s popular On Your Radar series. Several well-received albums have been spun on folk and public radio across the country, and Sharon has performed in top coffeehouses, listening room series and house concerts around the Northeast. Folk fans might remember her as part of a “Chicks with Dip” Joni Mitchell’s Blue: a 40th Anniversary Tribute tour from 2012-2014; while songwriters also know her as founder and writer of the popular blog Songwriting Scene.



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