What a delight it was to be an Artist-in-Residence for the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival this month and to be able to work with so many different communities! I had the chance to participate in an International Night at famed Eddie's Attic, celebrate Shabbat and Purim with beautiful Congregation Or Hadash, and share family Purim fun at the Marcus JCC. But surely one of the highlights was working with kids at the Epstein School and with Be'chol Lashon! It is always such a joy for me to bring Ladino music and culture to school kids, and to see them dancing with glee when they learn how exciting this part of Jewish culture is!
What a humbling and inspiring experience it was to be with over 300 song-leaders from across North America sharing music and prayer over President's Weekend in St. Louis, MO. I had the pleasure of attending Songleader Bootcamp, which was an unforgettable few days of singing with friends and colleagues, and a true reminder of how song can bring us all together.
As an artist, I know I have a responsibility to use my platform for positive action in the world. I'm very proud to lend my Sephardic voice in this terrific free resource guide on how to discuss race and diversity in the Jewish community. Thanks to Be'chol Lashon and Repair the World for putting this out in the world...
An amazing week I just had performing and sharing Ladino music and culture with Limmud UK in Birmingham!! From lighting communal hanukah candles and singing Sephardic songs of redemption with Sudanese refugee Mutasim Ali, to teaching hundreds of kids and families new Ladino songs, giving Ladino music workshops to such eager listeners, meeting with representatives of Reconectar and learning about efforts to reach out to thousands of lost Sephardic Jews from hundreds years past to present, singing at the gala with the fab Limmud UK House Band and amazing violinist Lior Kaminetsky, and sharing music with Shir and so many other terrific musicians from across the globe. Thank you to all my Limmud friends old and new for sharing in such an inspiring experience with me!
Check me out in my DJing debut!
What fun I had Guest DJing this program on kids music in languages across the globe! I spun music in Yup'ik, Swahili, of course Ladino, and much more. If you thought listening to kids music in Ladino was cool, want to hear a children's song in Quechua? In Amharic? Come listen!
I had the pleasure of dining with the Ambassador of Spain to the United States, Gil-Casares, in his home this evening (that's me 3rd from the left)! We discussed relations with the Jewish community and the recent law allowing Sephardic Jews to acquire Spanish citizenship. A lovely dinner and conversation!
What an amazing time we just had performing for the finale of the Internationales Klezmer Festival of Fürth! We felt so honored to bring our Ladino music and stories to this wonderful international festival in Germany.
And for those of you who read German, click below to read a great write-up of our performance!
As all musicians know, putting out a new album is like having a baby. In honor of both those things happening in my life right now I’m having a giveaway contest! Know anyone who loves Ladino, and is expecting? Follow us on our Instagram page, and write in the comments of this post why you think Ladino rocks. One lucky chika will win this signature Ladino Rocks maternity tee. Winner announced Nov 1st!
We were honored to have made it all the way finals (one of 6 acts), and we are even happier to report that we walked away with the Sephardic Music Prize! We were thrilled to be recognized for our work, and we look forward to planning a tour in Spain (starting in Cordoba) next June as part of our prize!
We are thrilled to announce that we've been selected to represent the USA in the International Jewish Music Festival taking place in Amsterdam this September. We will be one of 24 Jewish music groups from around the globe - wish us luck! Follow us on FB and Twitter if you want to track our progress!
Wishing everyone a Pesach Alegre, or a happy Passover! To help you prepare for the holiday, enjoy this mixtape of songs inspired by the seder, curated by some of your favorite Jewish musicians. I was honored to participate in the project from WhobyAudio. Just click the image below to take a listen!
I just returned from a trip to LA to shoot some new music videos! What an experience. I had a great team working with me, and I can't wait to share the videos when they're ready. In the meantime, here's a sneak peak of what I was up to! This is what a Ladino rockstar looks like at 6 months pregnant...
Since my latest album release last year, I've been asked many times about the meaning behind some of the songs (beyond just the translations). Well now i've got answers for anyone who's looking to learn more about my inspirations for the lyrics and arrangements!
I wrote a Tumblr to give the inside scoop on Gracia. Read, share, and enjoy!
I just got back from an amazing trip to Seattle, Washington, where the community gave me such a warm welcome. Not only did I get to share my music and family stories to a packed house, but I also got to guest teach a class at the University of Washington!
And I love this article** below that was written about my appearance:
Click HERE to read the full review
Thanks Seattle for being such a great audience!
**This piece was originally published on stroumjewishstudies.org, the web site of the University of Washington's Stroum Jewish Studies Program, and is reposted here with permission
Very excited to have two selections featured on this new great Sephardic Music Sampler (Tracks 8 and 14), alongside some of my favorite artists. I won't be around to participate in the festival this year in NY, so I'm proud to be represented here!
Want to own a copy? You can order/download it here: sephardicmusicfestival.com/store
And thanks to the Jewniverse blog for singling out our La Comida La Manana track as their favorite track on the whole CD!
For the next 2 weeks-- until Dec 5th-- we're giving away a free signed copy of our newest CD, Gracia!
Just in time for the holidays.
To enter, simply follow us on Twitter, and tweet the following message:
Follow @saraharoeste and RT this for a chance to win a Free Ladino CD for the Holidays! http://tweetsw.in/1923/ #FreeSwag #LadinoRocks
Tweet this @SarahAroeste and you'll be automatically entered to win!
UPDATE (12/6/12): Guy Wilson is the lucky winner. Congratulations!
We're in a video game!
One of our songs, Scalerica de Oro, is featured in the Music Monsters video game, available now - FOR FREE-- through the iTunes Store. As far as we know, it's the first video game to feature Ladino music! Check it out and try your hand at it now:
Available for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.1 or later. Coming to Android soon.
We're flattered that SoundRoots just named Gracia one of the Top 10 global music CD's this fall! We join the ranks of some of our favorites, Rita and Fanga-- check it out:
SoundRoots / Spin The Globe
Top 10 World Music Albums – October 2012
1. World Kora Trio: Korazon
2. Gordon Grdina's Haram: Her Eyes Illuminate
3. Yannick Noah: Hommage
4. Fanga & Maalem Abdallah Guinea: Fangnawa Experience
5. Samuel Yirga: Guzo
6. Sarah Aroeste: Gracia
7. La Caravan Passe: Gypsy for One Day
8. Geomungo Factory: Metamorphosis
9. Very Be Careful: Remember Me from the Party?
10. Rita: My Joys
Today we launched our mobile app! Can't get enough of our music? Take us along with you!
Just type in www.bandapp.com/saraharoeste in your smart phone's browser, and you'll be able to download the app from there.
We'll post exclusive material there, where you can be updated on the go with new music, gigs, videos and more.
Download and enjoy!
I am honored to have two of my songs off my newest album, Gracia, on a 3-month rotation (starting today!) on Women of Substance Radio. This is great internet radio station that features female performers, both label and indie. It's a real step forward for Ladino music that we've been included!
You can catch me on the playlists for 'Women Who Rock' (Friday 6pm Eastern) and 'Eclectic' (Saturday 1pm Eastern) either through iTunes Radio (Look for Women of Substance in the Adult Contemporary section), Live365, or via streaming through the Women of Substance website. Your listening in helps support diverse women rocking in music!
UPDATE January 2013: The response to our music was so great that our songs have been included for another 3-month rotation!
I had the pleasure last evening to perform for a special ceremony honoring Mexican Ambassador to the US, H.E. Arturo Sarukhan. Ambassador Sarukhan received the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Gesher Award for his remarkable work bridging Latino-Jewish relations, and I was honored to bring Ladino music into the celebration!
Need something fun to add to your party playlist this weekend? Are you a DJ, or know someone who is? We love this remix done by Israeli DJ, Avi Elman, off our new album, Gracia!
As one blog wrote, "if there is any justice in the world, the remix of Scalerica will soon be a global dance floor smash." (Arte Y Vida)
Click below to listen. We think it's a dance party hit, and we hope you do to. Enjoy!
For a limited time, we're offering it as a FREE download as an end-of-summer special!
Just follow the link above, and get your Ladino dance on today!
As the summer months fly by, I wish I could say that the music biz is all about touring and glamor. But alas, I am taking a few weeks off to get down to business! In today's digital world, an artist has to keep up an online profile in dozens of places. It's all to bring you, our great fans, access to our music on multiple platforms, in multiple territories.
So I'm hard at work right now making sure our new music can find you on the web, and on all your mobile devices. If you're on any of the following sites, feel free to listen to me (many of these offer you the chance to listen on the go!) and share with your networks. Just log on and type my name...
And we've been making the rounds on some great radio stations recently as well. If you listen to a station you think would enjoy our music, feel free to request us! That still really does work...
Work for a radio station? You can download radio-ready and pod-safe songs here:
However you listen, enjoy!
Greetings from Tel Aviv! I've had a wonderful 10 days here working with amazing musicians and crew to bring Gracia to life on video! We shot a concert video in the heart of Tel Aviv yesterday, with 16 musicians participating! Here are a few pictures from our sound check:
I can't wait to share the actual video clips with you when they're ready!
The CD has arrived! The proof is below:
However, it will take some time still to get the product into your hands. Now begins the post-production!
Post-production entails a lot of logistical and legal mumbo-jumbo: copyrighting and registering, setting up distribution, and planning the PR. All this has to be set in motion before I can officially “publish” the music (the official street-date for the release will be May 22nd). But everything is on schedule and we're thrilled!
I’ve been holed up in the recording studio the last month finishing up Gracia! Below is a picture of me in the last day in the mixing studio, with our wonderful editor Eli Lishinsky:
It’s been an extraordinary couple of weeks for me, and I’m happy to report that the final mixes were just delivered to me this past Friday. This essentially means that the recording process is now complete!! The final step of mastering will happen next week. In the meantime, now that I have the final mixes in hand, it’s been a good time to reflect on the last few songs I’ve tackled. I saved some of the most meaningful songs for last...
Two weeks ago was my father’s birthday; he would have been 67. He passed away far too soon over 20 years ago, but his influence on my life, and my music, remains with me every day. My father was not Sephardic and never lived to see my passion for Ladino culture grow, but I credit him for teaching me so much of what I know about music. Below is a picture of me and my father at one of our favorite places in the world— Tanglewood Music Festival in Lenox, Massachusetts, otherwise known as the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
I really got my musical start at Tanglewood, where my family has been going since I was even younger than in this picture. My father’s love of classical music was instilled in me as a little girl, and I was inspired by one of my father’s favorite pieces of music, a Mendelssohn violin concerto (in E minor, opus 64....but who’s taking note), in the last song I saved last to finish.
This song, "Tu Portret," is an original I composed, set to a poem by one of my mentors in the Ladino field, Matilda Koen-Sarano. After my father passed away, I wore a locket with his picture in it for many years after. This song is about pleading with that picture to come back at least to say a proper good bye. Needless to say, it was a difficult song to write, but has quickly became one of my favorites. The song is filled with many other memories— both happy and sad— that make it one of the most emotional on the album. I know my father would be very proud that his musical legacy (among many other of his wonderful qualities) still lives on in me...
So with 11 tracks under our belts, this closes the “mixing” stage of Gracia’s production. Next up is mastering!! The next update you’ll hear from me will be when the CD is mastered and on its way to being manufactured. I promise to include a celebratory song clip then! I look forward to reporting back in just a short couple of weeks with great news of the CD’s release...
So sad to hear today about the passing of one of the Jewish music greats-- Adrienne Cooper. She was an inspiration to me and so many others. She helped lead the revival of Yiddish music, and by extension, helped put Jewish music on the contemporary world scene. You can learn more about her work here. May her memory be a blessing.
It’s not easy being a musician today. It’s also not easy being a Jewish woman in the music world. That’s a whole other conversation— happy to have with anyone off-line! So to be both a musician, and a female Jewish one to boot, I’ve often been told takes ‘cajones.’ But I believe so strongly in the mission to keep Ladino culture alive, and I also believe that I, as a woman, have a unique artistic perspective to be heard. I am proud of the fact that this new album is dedicated to my Sephardic heroine, Dona Gracia Naci (see blog post "Recording Gracia" to learn more about her), and I’m proud that I’ve incorporated some strong feminist inspiration in many of the songs.
When I started my career 10 years ago, Ladino “Rock” was a seeming oxymoron. It wasn’t often one would hear an oud paired with an electric guitar on a traditional Ladino song. Somehow I’d like to think I’ve made it work. Well now I present you with some “Feminist Ladino Rock!” That’s a combo you really don’t hear too often...
Before I talk about the new song I'm recording, I want to share with you a picture of one of the most remarkable women I know. This is my cousin Rachel:
She grew up in Bitola, Monastir (Northern Greece/Southern Yugoslavia— now present-day Macedonia) where much of my extended family is from (my grandfather was born there, too!). On March 11th, 1943 Rachel’s family, along with all the Jews of the town, were rounded up and taken away. Rachel survived. She hid in a neighbor’s house and when the time was ripe, and with the help of a chauffeur from the Italian consulate, she was transported to Albania in the trunk of a car. There, she changed her identity and lived in a stranger’s house until war’s end. She never saw most of her family again.
Rachel’s strength and joyful spirit in all the time I’ve known her is an inspiration. She is also the last remaining Ladino speaker in my family. She is a treasure all around. It is Rachel, along with Dona Gracia, my own mother, and many other strong, powerful women who have inspired me, that I had in mind when I put together many of the tracks on this new album, including the one I'm finishing up today.
This song includes one of my dear friends, an incredibly talented spoken-word poet and feminist I have the honor of featuring on this album: Vanessa Hidary (aka the Hebrew Mamita). I’ve taken a traditional Ladino song “La Comida la Manana”-- which for you Spanish speakers, is really not about tomorrow’s meal. It’s actually an amusing tiff between a daughter and a mother about the role of women in society (and specifically dating mores of the time). I weaved in a poem of Vanessa’s called “Wild Women” to enhance my interpretation of the song. As Vanessa writes at the end of the song (which you’ll hear in the full version on the album):
My wild, crazy, unruly, artsy, fiery, sweet, smart, talented sisters-
I am you.
You are me.
We are not for everyone.
But We Live.
THANK YOU to all my amazing supporters and fans for helping me reach my Kickstarter goal. With your pledges to buy my new album Gracia, I am able to finish up the recording now. I am truly humbled and grateful for your belief in me. I thank you. Ladino thanks you. Can't wait to share the album with you as soon as it's done! Now it's back to the studio to get to work...
In the past few updates I've shared special pictures of my ancestors with you. Now I want to share with you a picture and a song that truly symbolize why I am so committed to the work that I do.
First the picture: this is the facade of a synagogue that many of my distant relatives helped build in the 1920's in Salonika, Greece. For you Hebrew speakers, you'll notice the "Aroeste" on the sign above the entrance! As many of you may know, the Jewish community of Salonika (along with the rest of Greece) was decimated during WWII. What is less known is that Greece was the hardest hit country of any country in Europe in terms of the *percentage* of Jews killed during the war. The community was devastated, along with much of Ladino culture, and to this day it is struggling to rebuild. I am blessed that my immediate family was safely in America when the war hit. But many of my distant relatives were not as fortunate. While many of the buildings in Salonika were destroyed in the fighting, this one synagogue remarkably was left intact at war's end. The Nazi's used it as a Red Cross shelter, and so it was spared. To me, the fact that this building was left standing (and is still in use today-- albeit much less) says so much about the resilience of Sephardic and Ladino culture worldwide today. Our culture is certainly not as widespread as it was just 70 years ago, but it *is* still standing. And we are holding on fast, and we *continue* to rebuild.
In that spirit, I am asking you-- my fans-- to help me make sure this music gets heard. I have made a commitment to my ancestors to not forgot their stories, and I'm doing so by creating new ones in the language and culture that they fought so hard to keep alive. Today I'm recording one of my favorite songs on the new album. It's another original song called "Chika Morena"-- and it's based on an old Sephardic theme of the wandering gypsy girl. In this song (which includes French and Moroccan influences--and an amazing orchestral score that kicks in half way), I imagined a young Sephardic girl kicked out from her homeland wandering for years and searching for a way back home. In this globalized world today, in the end I believe we are all just searching for that way home and to feel connected with our roots. This song symbolizes that deep-rooted desire, which for me has been exemplified by my exploration of my Ladino heritage. I have learned so much about myself along the way "home," and I hope this song inspires the same for you...
In my last update I shared a picture of my grandfather. Now I want to share a picture of my great-great grandfather, “Papoo!” From what I’ve been told, Papoo had two main goals near the end of his life: to marry a young bride, and to be buried in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. He achieved both goals (notice said young bride in the photo below).
Like Papoo-- I have set my goals and I plan on reaching them. And our goals are strangely similar! I recently got married this year, and, while not on the Mount of Olives, I do hope to spend a lot of time in Israel over the next few years performing my music live. So Papoo and I are not so different, and I am constantly amused and affected by the similar path I seem to take from my ancestors. They truly lead me on my way.
In honor of Papoo (and my own recent nuptials), I've put together a new track on the upcoming album that actually combines two songs: the first is a very beloved traditional Sephardic wedding song, “Scalerica de Oro,” and the second song (in Hebrew) is a little known wedding psalm from a Sephardic prayer book for the holiday of Sukkot called “Dodi Yarad” (based on the Song of Solomon). I mixed the two songs in my version of a Ladino wedding ‘mash-up’! Stay tuned for a clip coming soon...
After being in the Ladino music biz for the last 10 years, some of you have asked me how I have the energy and will to record, promote, and distribute all on my own in today's music world-- the answer is below! This is my grandfather (the younger of the lads) all spiffed up to watch the "Pasha" come into town. My grandfather and his relatives were so proud of their heritage, and I feel it is my duty to honor them and make sure my beautiful history of Sephardic culture does not get lost. This is why I do what I do.
Today i'm recording a another original Ladino song of which I am especially proud. It's called "El Leon Ferido" and is inspired by a poem by the great 11th century Judeo-Spanish poet, Samuel Ha-Nagid. It's about maintaining hope and drive-- even when you think you've reached your end. I hope my grandfather would be proud!
Today I'm recording the title-track to my new album, Gracia! This is an original song I wrote-- an homage to Dona Gracia, my medieval Sephardic heroine!
Dona Gracia saved hundreds from the Spanish Inquisition through her courage, commitment to culture, and her feminine wisdom. The song I wrote for her is my foray into Ladino feminist rock! The end of the song even includes a special cameo by the iconic Gloria Steinem...
(As a side note, for any of you who speak Hebrew, there was a wonderful article recently in one of the major Israeli newspapers, Ma'ariv, about Dona Gracia and why it's a travesty that more people don't know about her... The article can be found here .)
Can't wait to share a clip with you soon!
We're hard at work bringing Gracia to life-- wanted to share a couple pics of what we've been up to in the studio! Check out the 16-piece string orchestra we've recorded on half the album, as well as Shai taking the lead in Pluto Studios in Tel Aviv. More fun pics coming soon!
Today marks the kick-off day to my Kickstarter campaign! Along with the campaign, I'm launching my new website and Gracia project! It's a big day in my career. I couldn't have gotten this far without my supporters and fans, and I can't wait to update you on the recording process of my new album, Gracia, and the Kickstarter campaign as it all unfolds. To watch my campaign video and learn all about the Gracia project, click below!