One of Israels most popular and enduring singers, Chava Alberstein, will perform at Meany at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. Alberstein is a gifted storyteller with a husky, soulful voice reminiscent of Edith Piaf. Over the past 30 years, she has recorded more than 50 albums, many that have gone gold, platinum, or even triple platinum.
From tender love songs to defiant laments, her music speaks volumes about relationships both political and human. For her Seattle engagement she will perform a mix of old favorites and new compositions sung in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English.
Alberstein is undoubtedly Israel’s most accomplished singer, having released over 60 recordings since the late 1960s. Her development as an artist mirrors Israel’s development as a country; her growing pains are Israel’s growing pains. Alberstein and Israel are even the same age and they both share a small but powerful stature.
But Chava Alberstein sees herself as much a singer of the world as a singer of her beloved Israel.
“Even though I have lived in Israel nearly my entire life, I am constantly questioning my place in the world,” said Alberstein. “Maybe this searching comes from being an artist, maybe it comes from being a Jew. I’m not really sure.”
In 1998, Alberstein released The Well, an album of Yiddish poems she has transformed into folk songs, with the renowned klezmer group the Klezmatics.
“In Israel, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone today composing and singing in Yiddish,” she says. “Some people still see Yiddish as the language of soft Jews who can’t protect themselves. But I believe I understand both the joy and depth of the language.”
Yiddish was the mother-tongue of Alberstein’s family in the small town in Szczecin, Poland, where Alberstein was born. Her family moved to Israel when Alberstein was only 4-years-old, but she says she has never totally lost the feeling of being a stranger.
“No matter where I am, even if it’s in my own country, I feel like a bit of a guest,” she said. “People can appreciate this today, because they move around so much. Every country you go to in the world is filled with so-called foreigners.”
Tickets for the concert are $36 ($20 for students). Tickets may be purchased by phone at 206-543-4880, online, or in person at the UW Arts Ticket Office.