Ladino Music in Pop Culture, 1975 - Present
While the Ladino language is on the verge of extinction, as classified by UNESCO, Ladino music has become more present in pop music and other genres where it hasn’t been found before.
Yasmin Levy (1975, Israel - Present), in particular, is an Israeli singer-songwriter who has dedicated her career to spreading the music that her father spent his entire life collecting. She describes how over the past 500 years, the melodies and songs of the Sephardic people have been passed down orally: mothers singing to their daughters at home, and fathers singing to their sons in the synagogue. Her father, like many other Ladino music enthusiasts, understood that these songs would need to be written down before these people passed and took the music with them. Throughout his life, he published 14 books of those songs. Yasmin Levy, then, has taken it upon herself to share with the world the works her father had collected.
In order to keep a sense of modernity to these traditional songs, Levy has combined different styles of music and languages, encompassing a wide audience. Her music has influences of flamenco, tango, Portuguese fado, and turkish ornamental instruments.
One song in particular, featured on The hidden gate Jewish music around the world, a CD in the library collection which is shown above, features her cover of "Esta Montanya d’Efrente," a Ladino song originating from the late 19th century following the classic ladino ballad theme of love, in this case lost love.
Levy, Yasmin. "Romance&Yasmin". Erhan Çalışkan. 2018-07-03, https://lib.mivideo.it.umich.edu/media/t/1_83bi0ew8.
"Esta Montanya d’Efrente" can also be found on her album Romance and Yasmin on track ten. To listen to the song, click on the Romance and Yasmin album above.
The fusion of traditional Ladino music with a variety of other styles has not only awarded her worldwide recognition, but brought new exposure to this dying language with the production of her five albums. The Sunday Times, Britain’s highest circulation broadsheet, went on to include her album Sentir as one of the Top 100 albums of 2009 including it as one of the Top 10 World Music releases of the year.
Her dedication to modernizing Ladino music comes from her desire to preserve her own personal history. “I think it’s part of me, it’s my history and I think, you know, history is kind of your – who you are and your being, and I – that’s why it’s important. I think we are losing the traditions” (Levy).
Influential Ashkenazi Singers Performing Ladino Music, 1920s - 2010s
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