Debbie Friedman released 20 albums between 1972 ( Sing Unto God ) and 2010 ( As You Go On Your Way: Shacharit – The Morning Prayers ), on several record labels. What follows is a chronological discography of everything that was officially released.
Includes Debbie's first five albums: SING UNTO GOD (1972) – NOT BY MIGHT, NOT BY POWER (1974) – ANI MA-AMIN (1976) – IF NOT NOW, WHEN? (1980) – AND THE YOUTH SHALL SEE VISIONS (1981)
This three-CD set brings to life the earliest works of Debbie Friedman as you've never heard them before, remixed from the original master recordings. The package includes the full verions of Debbie's first five recordings, originally available only on vinyl. The three discs contain sixty songs, nearly three hours of music, and an extensive insert booklet that includes the complete lyrics, transliterations, translations, and liner notes from the original records. A must-have for any Debbie Friedman fan or collector of Jewish music, and a wonderful gift idea, this outstanding collection accurately captures the legendary Debbie Friedman as she was, In The Beginning.
FROM THE ORIGINAL LINER NOTES of SING UNTO GOD (1972)
SING UNTO GOD is a new experience in worship that emphasizes through song the importance of community involvement in worship. This music carries a solid message in a simple, easily understood form. It enables those who are willing, to join together as a community in contemporary songs of prayer.
One prayer - the Kaddish - has been interpreted among Reform congregations as strictly a prayer for the dead. I have chosen to interpret this prayer as it is written - as an affirmation of life and the glorification of God 's name.
The musical talents, skills and efforts of the CAMERATA have made this recording possible. They have made my music - as I dreamed it - come alive. But more important - their joy in singing is infectious and has been a source of inspiration to me. They made getting up in the morning the beginning of a new adventure!
I dedicate this music and this recording to all those people who have touched my life, who have helped me come closer to my Judaism, who have deepened my appreciation of life and increased my love and awareness of people...to those who stand for peace...to my entire family...to Joyce Kraulik and the members of the CAMERATA...and to Ruth Aswegan who has not only helped with the technical production of this recording but has given moral support and has come to help at any hour of the day. I wish for them all the joy and happiness they share with me and you who hear this recording...SlNG UNTO GOD.
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Dark hair flying...eyes crinkled in laughter...she bounds in with a new story and her guitar. Hovering over her guitar...fingers coaxing out chords... reworking rhythms...she is completely absorbed in her music.
Searching eyes thoughtful...forehead knit in concentration...she shares with another her feelings and convictions about God and every day living.
SING UNTO GOD is the culmination of her boundless energy, her musical gift, her sensitivity toward others, her concern for young people and her deep religious commitment together with her yearning to share with those who will hear - her feelings about God.
Eyes alight...bodies tense...eager to begin...one, two, three, four...oops...groans...false start...once again...one, two...may we hear that one please?...smiles...it’s a good one!
FROM THE ORIGINAL LINER NOTES of NOT BY MIGHT, NOT BY POWER (1974)
A few years ago, I came to Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute. It was a time when my own experiences and the spirit of the Institute came together to allow me to create in the finest educational and spiritual moment of my life. That is when I knew that SING UNTO GOD was only a beginning.In every age there are times of despair; there are dreams shattered, hearts broken, tears shed, and ideals lost. The theme of Chanukah is one of renewal, a time of rededication; a time to go back and pick up the pieces with your people and take another step forward in pursuit of those precious dreams once forgotten.
To my family and those special people who have been an inspiration to me, I dedicate this music with my love - for in your spirit and in your song - "Another Song Will Rise.”
• • • • • • •
Debbie Friedman is a young woman with boundless energy directed toward the goal of providing the young and the old with a means of coming closer to their Judaism through music. As a composer, youth leader, teacher, camp counselor, and director of a city wide Youth Choir, she has brought to many a sense of belonging as well as an awareness of the need to express love and hope and joy through song.
NOT BY MIGHT - NOT BY POWER is the second in a series of recordings presented in the praise of God. SlNG UNTO GOD, a Sabbath Liturgy, was the first.
Debbie’s creativity, her sensitivity toward others, her concern for people and her deep religious commitment are well expressed in Debbie’s musical compositions.
The music of this recording was originally commissioned as a Chanukah Cantata by Chicago Sinai Congregation, through a grant from its endowment fund. It was premiered before the congregation by Debbie Friedman and the Sinai City Wide Choir on Sunday, December 16, 1973.
FROM THE ORIGINAL LINER NOTES of ANI MA-AMIN (1976)
ANI MA-AMIN is a musical montage spanning generations of Jewish liturgical and biblical vision. In the middle ages, Maimonides penned the phrase Ani Ma-amin, “l believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and though the Messiah may tarry, I believe.” It was an affirmation of humankind’s hope for brighter tomorrows. That which stands out most vividly in our minds are the millions in Europe who chanted these words on their way to oblivion; a nameless, sacred memory.
Whether expressed as a statement or a question, “l believe” becomes a vital part of one’s search for a deeper and more meaningful understanding of life. Our heritage is to make these dreams and visions come alive. We dare not give in to the inhumanities which surround us. We must hope and continue to dream... For when our hope is lost, we as a people will be lost. Messianism... perhaps a question, maybe a life long struggle... a challenge to achieve an ideal, once lost, recaptured in special moments with those who are most beloved to us. This music is dedicated to those I love... for “I still believe in you”... Ani ma-amin. Debbie
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Liner notes:Oconomowoc, Wisconsin...Saratoga, California...Utica, Mississippi...Warwick, New York...Kresgeville, Pennsylvania, and dozens of communities in between - these are Debbie Friedman’s “stages”. Most of all, her real stage is any place where Jews will congregate to share the music, ideas, and love of this young woman; who has exploded Jewish liturgy, poetry, and Bible into a new musical idiom. Her work at Camp Swig and Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute have provided a base of development for Jewish music and learning in an intertwined knot fastening SING UNTO GOD and NOT BY MIGHT - NOT BY POWER into progressive Jewish worship everywhere.
Debbie has found a special home in the Ma-ayan program at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute where she spent the winter of 1976 with a small community of first semester high school graduates in a semester of Jewish study. This new recording is the capstone of Debbie’s work. Here we find the kind of sensitivity and faith so rare in today’s world.
FROM THE ORIGINAL LINER NOTES of IF NOT NOW, WHEN? (1980)
Four years have past since my last recording. In that time, my eyes and my heart have been opened in ways I never knew possible. I realize now that the idealism expressed in my other recordings, SING UNTO GOD, NOT BY MIGHT - NOT BY POWER, and ANI MA-AMIN, is still very much a part of me. But at this point in life, that idealism has taken on a dimension of reality: the awareness of limitations.
Growing up in the 60’s, I was a product of a culture in which the values of “peace and love” were all that mattered. Our mission in life was to help bring peace to the world in any way possible. We all had our own way. I turned to our tradition which validated all of my idealism and which gave me permission to dream of the day when all human beings would sing together in peace. I believed that if we all would sing songs and prayers together, there would be a chance that in some small way we might bring some sense of peace to this world.
There is a huge part of me that still hopes for that; but at age 29, I now understand that nothing in life is perfect, that we get nothing for free, and that to achieve happiness in these times is a challenge. Ultimately, until we learn self-love and self-respect, our capacity for a meaningful life experience is limited and therefore diminished.
This recording is a statement by me, about me. It incorporates the expression of my strong Jewish values, the desire to continue to share spiritual moments and to present tradition in a progressive and dignified way. It has no one particular theme. It is a collection of prayers and songs, all of which are Jewish in content. I have taken the liberty to exercise poetic license by singing the words of “SHIR HAMA-ALOT” the way in which I learned them, neither Ashkenazic nor Sephardic. I guess this seeming inconsistency is my way of holding on to sentiments as well as to tradition. As for the two English songs, perhaps they seem to be a point of departure, but thematically, their source is Ecclesiastes. These songs represent an attempt to bring the mood of Ecclesiastes into a contemporary and universal statement which I hope to incorporate into a musical.
.....to all my friends past and present...to my family, who in their own unique way has contributed to my personhood...to Barry and Alison who have been a special kind of support and happiness...to Bubby who dances in her heart even when she cannot dance on her feet, and who lights the Shabbat candles in the most beautiful way...l love you all and in part this recording is because of you.
I dedicate this recording to Gay Block who will hear this music, and know that because she has touched my life, I have learned lo ask: “lf I am not for myself who will be for me? If l am only for myself, what am I?" And, for all who love life but hesitate to know and embrace if, ask yourself: “If not now, when?”Debbie
FROM THE ORIGINAL LINER NOTES of AND THE YOUTH SHALL SEE VISIONS (1981)
When I was young, my father told me. “You need to get your head out of the clouds and your feet on the ground; you're a dreamer.”
lt took me along time to accept my father’s saying that without feeling that he was wrong or that he was criticizing me. I know now that, in these times, to be a “dreamer” and to have feet firmly planted in reality is an ideal and monumental challenge.
When I was in second grade, my mother told me, “Someday you’re going to sing in auditoriums in front of lots of people.” She doesn’t remember that conversation, but somewhere in the back of my mind those words were never forgotten. Mom is still cheering everybody on, especially my dad, my brother, my sisters, and me.
Sometimes this world is not a very easy one in which to live. I feel lucky in that, being a Jew, I am afforded the luxury and the responsibility of being both the “realist” and the “dreamer ” As Jews we are obligated to bring light where there is darkness and to live in pursuit of “tikun oIam,” the reparation of the world. We have been taught through Torah and our history that we must never give up. When faced with death, we look to life. Where there is despair we hope. When we feel pain and sadness, we recognize that we also have the capacity to feel joy.
In this spirit, I create music. This music is about my refusal to be beaten by life’s unpleasant challenges. It is my ammunition against pain, loneliness, confusion and inhuman acts. It is my affirmation of life and of the desire and need to renew spiritual commitment to Torah and to life.
We must remember that there is room up in the clouds. There is room to create our dreams and our visions. Acting upon this realization is our greatest challenge.
Dad had a stroke in September. He will never say those words to me again, nor will he be able to read or even comprehend the words on this recording. Once again, as on all my recordings, I dedicate the sentiment of these words to any who wish to share them, but especially to my family and friends. I wish us all the strength to dream dreams and see visions.Debbie
And You Shall Be a Blessing... (1989)
This popular recording attests to Debbie's musical skill and sensitivity, and is often given as a gift to those in need of healing. Captivating melodies evoke the spiritual yearnings we all share. The listener is inspired by liturgical and biblical words in contemporary settings.
FROM THE LINER NOTES • • • •
Every Friday night Bubby puts a paper napkin on her head. After she lights candles she waves her hands around and around. And then she whispers something.
I was always curious as to what she was whispering One day I asked. She said. "Oh, I make blessings for all of the ones who are in Gan Eden (paradise). Did you take the chicken out of the pan?"
At 89 she misses a word here and there while reciting the blessings over the candles. I realized that it does not matter. For her, blessings are not separate from life.
"And You Shall Be a Blessing..." is a collection of songs and prayers. It is my belief that blessings are not those nebulous, distant, magical intangibles, rather, they are the recognition of all that is, the affirmation of faith in the Source of All Life and the enactment of the potential goodness with which each soul has been endowed.
I'm not certain that my awareness of "blessings" had been awakened until 9 months ago when, after lying down with a headache, I awoke incapable of walking. A week later no part of me would move. I was terrified.
From that experience my concept of blessings changed radically. My thinking was not impaired, my ability to laugh and experience joy was not impaired, and more than anything I realized in the deepest and most profound sense how my friends and family were a blessing to me and to my recovery.
To mom, my aunts, Cheryl, Bubby, Wilma, Peaches, Randee, Malka, Batya, Nili, Sheila T., Gay, Shelley, Sheila, Alice, Kathy, Savina, Marty, Carol, Dr Shane, Lady, Baby, Waldo & Stella, I give my love and thanks. And to Pris whose knowledge, sensitivity, and sensibility infused me with life and helped me believe that every breath was not my last, I dedicate this music, this album with love, respect, and a commitment to life, health and blessings.
And You Shall Be A Blessing
A special thanks to Randee & Dick Friedman for producing this album.
Live At the Del (1990)
This outstanding extended play concert performance recorded live at the Hotel del Coronado, San Diego on June 3, 1990, has received rave reviews! The recording captures Debbie at her best - performing, teaching and interacting with a dynamic audience. Included are 21 of Debbie's original songs, eight of which are recorded here for the first time.
FROM THE LINER NOTES • • • •
The hall was filled with people and song. There were moments of prayer and laughter and great fun. LlVE AT THE DEL, June 3, 1990, was the celebration of the completion of Temple Emanu-El's new building. To Randee and Dick Friedman, Marty Lawson and for all of you who worked so hard to make it happen – who chose to invest your time and energy to help build this community, l dedicate this recording to you.
To my family – mom. Cheryl, Bubby, Pris, Carolyn Conger, Lady, Baby, Shayna, Waldo and Stella, there is no way to thank you in words for all that you have done to help me. My songs, my love for you, my every step towards strength and healing are for you and because of you. l love you very much. LIVE AT THE DEL is for you.
LIVE AT THE DEL is also dedicated to the memory of Bertie Hammack, Ruby Hickerson and Steve Lawson. May their memory be for a blessing, This recording is about life, about the realization of dreams and about "doing" life with passion and dedication.
The World of Your Dreams (1993)
Debbie's inspiring adult recording of 11 beautiful songs. A winning combination of soft spiritual melodies and uplifting energized tunes that express all of our dreams.
FROM THE LINER NOTES • • • •
Bubby would have been 93 this April. I have tried to write this message and all that would come to the forefront was the thought of her. She was an enormous influence in my life. It was strange to watch her and hold her as she made her exit so very gently and thoughtfully.
It was a difficult feeling to experience. The life of this being, whom I loved so very much, slipping away through my hands. I had no way to stop the process. This confrontation with her death was the catalyst for a conscious decision that I made. I knew that my Bubby's legacy to me was her fervor for life. Just as Bubby put the band away at every party, I knew that I, too, must dance my way through life. I knew that this would be the most meaningful way to keep her unbeatable spirit alive inside of me.
I have learned that life is filled with miracles and blessings. We praise life for the good. And in spite of whatever setbacks and discomforts we may encounter, we acknowledge and bless all that is in our experience. We have the power to transform. All that we see has the potential to take on depth and move us into new directions of healing and understanding the world. I believe that dreams are realities that have been infused with a dimension of holiness. Dreams are thoughts which move from the self into the realm of awareness in which one chooses to take part in replacing complacency and negativity with healing and goodness.
Bubby is gone now. Her memory is for a blessing. I keep her with me all of the time because she reminds me that life is hard work, but that we are all entitled to live in a world of our dreams.
Special love and thanks to my friends and producers Randee, Dick, Andy and Barry Friedman. Much of the music on this recording was inspired by my association with Rabbi Stuart Kelman, Gail Dorph, Deborah Newbrun, and Michael Poznick through our work on the Melton Institute Retreats. Thanks too to Lynda Roth, Linda Robbins, Ron Compton, and George Fogelman for all their support and artistic input. Thank you all for helping me reach this point - and may we long work together.
I also dedicate this recording to my family and friends, to my loyal friend Shayna, to the CAJE Conference, and to all of those who will share in the partnership of humanity to create THE WORLD OF YOUR DREAMS.
Renewal of Spirit (1995)
Renewal of Spirit is a healing service, a soothing collection of Debbie Friedman's most powerful and moving songs of faith and inspiration. Both contemporary settings of traditional prayers and Debbie's original compositions are meant to aid in dealing with pain, loss, and spiritual renewal. Perhaps the most touching and personal of Debbie's recordings, the 13 captivating songs appeal to young and old alike.
FROM THE LINER NOTES • • • •
The past few years Rabbi Stuart Kelman, Deborah Newbrun and I have been leading teacher retreats. Stuart and I have been collecting prayers which we felt would create a calming, thought provoking liturgy for a healing experience. It was Stuart who “nudged” me to do a healing tape. “People need it,” he would say. The truth is that I also need it. I have spent countless days attempting to write a message for this healing tape. There is much to say but it is hard to find the words. I let the music speak for me.
I have sung with you and have had the pleasure of hearing your songs and souls fill rooms, transforming what is regular into holiness. Without you, the music, the prayers, and the words have no voice, no life. With you, the silences, the spaces between the notes, those seemingly vacuous moments in time, all resonate with the presence of Shechinah and you. You, my friends and loved ones, and you who I know only from a distance or a passing conversation, have touched me. You have been the most powerful component of my healing process. I hope this music in turn helps in your healing process, when you listen by yourself or when you share in singing it with others.
Recently Tamara Cohen and I taught a session on healing. Tamara taught that Jacob wrestled with an angel. Jacob was injured, and walked away with a limp, yet he was healed. I still limp. My physical condition may be life long. But I, like Jacob, am healing. I use these prayers as a vehicle inward. Sometimes they offer me courage, sometimes challenge, and sometimes a cold, hard, uncomfortable reality. These words of prayer show me that healing has little to do with being sick and recovering and more to do with how we see ourselves and our roles in this sometimes torn and fragmented world.
Rabbi Hiyya fell ill. Rabbi Yohanan went to visit him. Rabbi Yohanan wisely asked, “Do you want to be sick? Is your suffering important to you?" When Rabbi Hiyya answered, “No,” Rabbi Yohanan placed his hands on him and healed him.
Then this same Rabbi Yohanan fell ill. Rabbi Hanina went to visit him and asked, “Is your suffering important to you?” Rabbi Yohanan said, “No,” and Rabbi Hanina placed his hands on him and healed him.
If Rabbi Yohanan could heal Rabbi Hiyya, why then, when he got sick, could he not heal himself?
A prisoner cannot release himself from confinement.
Talmud Berachot 5b: Human beings need one another. We need to know that as we go on this life long journey discovering our hearts and souls, there will be someone there when we emerge to “release us from confinement.” We need to recognize how powerful we are and that what comes out of us, for good and for bad, has the power to hurt or heal others.
I thank you for the lessons you teach me. Thank you Stuart for helping me find my way into the prayers and for being there to catch me when I ran away from them in fear and despair. Thank you Cheryl, Barbara and Werner for not only being my family but for being my friends. Thank you Mom for teaching me how to live with passion and how to enjoy the magic of every minute. Thank you for your completely unbiased and objective view of my work. We, your children, appreciate that you think everything we do is wonderful - we all think you are wonderful too!
Thank you Randee and Dick Friedman for making my work accessible to people and for encouraging me to write, sing, record and produce. Thank you Lynda Roth for gracing my music with your exquisite gifts. Thank you Kennan Keating for your great engineering skills and your warm heart. Thank you Ed Miller for your assistance in the recording and your quiet, gentle efficiency.
Last but not least, thank you, Farfel for coming to me. I wish that you could read this and understand it. You were a gift to me from my angel/friend Elaine Block. When I lost Shayna and I was so broken, you came into my life to help me learn that even though we cannot replace our losses, we can begin to build again and hopefully learn new ways to love, because each being offers new qualities to love. We need our memories to remind us of those places from which we have come, and that we are different for having had those experiences. So I thank you for inviting me to get up with you every morning to walk in the park to your dog minyan, Minerva, Belle, Lucy, Chester, Cooper, Cleo, Scout, Roosevelt, Lola and Diva. You bring me to people, to nature, and to fresh air. I have the joy of watching you jump and play and chase after the dogs and everything else that moves. This is life - and this is healing. May we learn from you, my Farfel, as we all experience our own RENEWAL OF SPIRIT.
Miracles & Wonders (1995)
Debbie's well-loved Chanukah and Purim musicals for children of all ages. The eight Chanukah songs and six Purim songs use Debbie's tremendous wit and humor to tell the holiday stories. For use in the classroom or just for fun, these plays will bring smiles to your faces and pleasure to your hearts.
Shirim Al Galgalim: Songs On Wheels (1995)
Debbie's children's recording of 12 original and fun holiday songs for people of all ages, produced by Sounds Write Productions in conjunction with Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, to beautifully enhance their "Training Wheels: Cycling Through the Jewish Year With Hadassah" curriculum.
Shanah Tovah: Songs for Jewish Holidays (1996)
Cycle through the Jewish year with Debbie in this fun loving Parents' Choice Approved children's recording of 13 original English songs. Hebrew words and symbols appropriate to the holidays are introduced in Debbie's entertaining style, with catchy, easy to learn melodies.
Live at Carnegie Hall (1996)
On January 7, 1996, historic Carnegie Hall was filled with Debbie's loyal fans who braved blizzard conditions to be part of this celebration of song, spirit & community! All 22 selections from the 25th Anniversary Concert are recorded in this 87 minute recording. A nostalgic retrospective of Debbie's beloved favorites as well as new songs recorded here for the first time.
FROM THE LINER NOTES • • • •
I don’t think I'll ever forget what it felt like to walk out on the stage of Carnegie Hall. My thoughts racing...do l have my picks...extra strings...is everything buttoned and zipped...what will l say? Then as in a dream, l looked out and saw the faces of those who have been on this 25 year journey with me, friends from every chapter of my life, family, and new faces I had not seen or known.
The ambiance was something to behold. The acoustics were phenomenal, the architecture elegant. All of that was seductive and impressive, but as l sang the Mi Shebeirach, l was reminded in that moment that no matter where people gather for prayer it is they who create the warmth, memory and the magic of any experience.
This has been true for me ever since l moved to New York City. I had been longing for a sense of community, yet l had no idea that the move would have so profound an impact on my life. l am blessed with a warm and loving home where people come and eat, celebrate, cry and laugh. As l walk down the street and meet my new friends as well as old friends l haven't seen in years, l feel like I have finally realized my fantasy of the best of shtetl life.
On Yom Kippur l was unable to attend services because l was ill. My dog Farfel and l sat by the window under the piano and listened to Kol Nidre from my synagogue next door, Ansche Chesed. I shared this experience with my landlady, Mrs. Zauderer, and shortly thereafter she offered me a long-term lease. l have also been given much of my active life back thanks to Dr Jeanine Albu, a gifted medical researcher. I have been nourished and supported by many friends in the community, particularly the women of Ma'yan: The Jewish Women's Project - Barbara, Eve, Ruth, Sue, Susan and Tamara (l love you all!). Collaborating with Tamara has added a dimension of excitement, passion and meaning to my life's work. Moishe Rosenfeld, my agent/manager, shares in my visions and dreams and above all else, he is a "mensch." It was his vision that made Beth Carnegie possible.
Over seventeen hundred people came to Carnegie that January 7th, the day of the biggest blizzard in 50 years. When I left Carnegie I watched the flakes of snow falling, wisping (sic) their way down. They made a pure white blanket of snow over which we trampled. l thought to myself "it is over, I can't believe it's over." I caught myself and realized quickly that nothing was over. I know now that the dream of community and spirituality can live anywhere. It need not be politicized, it need not be competitive, it need not be separate from one's work life. It is as pure as the newly fallen snow.
I want to thank my friends, new and old, who were with me on the stage of Carnegie Hall. To E.J., Bentsi, Shlomo, Alicia, Sandra, Margret and Tish, l want to thank you for bringing a special dimension to my music that made it come to life in a way that it had not done before. To Ellen, I thank you for your gentle heart and soul, and the graciousness with which you shared in friendship and in song. Finally to Lynda, more than accompanist, more than musical director, you are my friend of 28 years. Your gift is enormous and "uniquely" you. You listen, interpret and add your voice to make the music soar to heaven. Thank you for the magic that you have added to my music.
I dedicate this album to Farfel, Tamara, Mom, Cheryl and my Tantas, Robin, Dr Albu, Moishe, Lynda, Randee, Dick, and Kennan, and to those of you who are in my life and bigger than life to me, I love you and thank you. You are as those delicate exquisite snowflakes, each of you unique, each of you gathering as one to bring light and beauty to all of us who are graced by your presence in our lives. “Welcome to Beth Carnegie.”
The Journey Continues: Ma'yan Passover Haggadah In Song (1997)
23 beautifully arranged Hebrew and English songs that parallels the MA'YAN PASSOVER HAGGADAH of the same name. Debbie introduces new original songs, shares some seder-appropriate renditions of other favorites, plus sings traditional Pesach songs like you've never heard them before! Perfect for use at home or communal seders as well as for pure enjoyment!
It's You (1998)
Debbie reaches a new and exciting dimension on It's You as a composer, vocalist and performing artist. This captivating adult recording, brilliantly produced and arranged by Yaron Gershovsky, Musical Director of "The Manhattan Transfer", dramatically enhances Debbie's familiar style. New songs join Debbie's ever-expanding repertoire of memorable hits.
FROM THE LINER NOTES • • • •
It's You is a collection of work written with and for those I love. Some are living and some are not living. These songs were born out of great despair as well as great joy. They are about the love between God and humanity and about the potential love and caring that exists between and amongst people. They are about the love that one must learn to have for oneself in order to be in the world fully. This, I believe, is one of the greatest challenges with which we are faced as human beings.
We spend endless amounts of time looking outside of ourselves and away from ourselves in an effort to fill the vacancies that we feel in our lives and often we deprive others of the pleasure of our essential selves.
This album is a reminder that when we look to the heavens, to the One whose presence nourishes all of creation, we say, "It's You." When we want to give our love away and open our hearts to friends and family, or to special people in our lives, to touch and be touched by love, we say "It's you."
When we look inside ourselves and encounter the ways in which we undermine our ability to live as whole and integrated human beings, when we fail to take responsibility for our lives and place blame on the external factors that inhibit us and fortify the walls that keep us locked in and everyone else locked out, we must look in the mirror and learn to say "It's you."
Ultimately the world is what it is because of all of the many colors of self that each of us brings to it. The world is a very different place because of you and what you bring lo it. And without you, neither this world, nor its beauty would be the same.
I dedicate this album to those I love, to you, the listener: You have been my inspiration.. and you may not know this, but "It's you!"
The Alef Bet (2001)
Debbie in this fun-loving, upbeat children's recording, winner of both a Parent's Guide Children's Media Award and a Children's Music Web Award! You'll learn the Alef Bet through Debbie's signature song and get a delicious taste of Hebrew grammar, vocabulary, greetings, the importance of friendship and sharing, and other value lessons that are introduced with catchy rhythms and lively melodies.
The Water In the Well (2001)
This much-anticipated adult recording contains 12 brand new Hebrew and English gems, never previously recorded, from Debbie's ever-expanding repertoire. The exquisitely recorded melodies filled with lush harmonies, in Debbie's familiar and trademark style, will profoundly touch your heart, make your soul dance, and lift your spirits to new heights.
FROM THE LINER NOTES • • • •
In the beginning when there was chaos and the world had not yet been created, G-d separated the water from the land and there was a little puddle left. That little puddle became the well. When Hagar and Ishmael were wandering in the desert and had nothing to eat or drink and were dying, the well appeared and they were revived. When Rachel and Rebekah extended their hospitality to their guests, it was with the water from the well. As the Israelites wandered through the desert to the Promised Land, the well followed them. When Miriam died, the well dried up and the Israelites had nothing to drink. G-d told Moses to touch the rock. Moses, in a rage, took his staff, hit the rock, and out came a spring of water. This, too, was the well.
No one knows what happened to the well. It is my belief that each one of us carries the well inside of us. It is a source from which we can draw when we find ourselves depleted. The well holds the history of our people, our struggles, our victories, our strengths, our hopes. It holds the tears from the Exodus, the Inquisition, the Holocaust, all that led up to the establishment of the State of Israel, and all that has happened since. It holds every tear that has ever fallen for any human being who has suffered oppression.
As I watched TV Tuesday morning, September 11th, I saw one building on fire and a plane flying into the second tower. It was incomprehensible. Later as I was walking on the street, I heard someone scream, "It's coming down." I quickly ducked into a laundromat and watched in shock as the first tower came down. I stood there until the second building collapsed. I continued on my way and said to a woman on the street, "The towers collapsed." She took my hands in hers and held them, and said, "Oh my G-d, both?" We held each other for a minute. We were both stunned and tear-filled. How many thousands?
And now? We have the opportunity to behave toward one another differently or we, like the towers, will crumble. We have the ability to know that even though there are those who destroy human life, we believe in the sanctity of human life. To us, each life is precious. We must care for each other now. So, we turn to the well, the water in the well, the reservoir of our past that nourishes us and holds both our history and our determination. The healing in the well. We must look around us and pay attention to each other. We must build our communities and strengthen them. The hope that's in the well. We must become a WE that cares and dreams, that hopes and fortifies one another. We must celebrate life as a precious gift. This is what we can do in response to terrorism and violence. We need to be brave enough to dream of the possibility of living with one another as if this were a perfect world, even in times when everything points to intolerance and hatred...these will be our greatest challenges and ultimately our victory. Spring up o' well and sing ye unto it...
My thanks to Randee Friedman, Dassi Rosenkrantz, Kennan Keating, David Bravo, and Benny Koonyevsky for their contributions on this recording. I dedicate this CD to the memory of three very important people in my life. Shira Ruskay was an incredibly strong, vibrant, honest, powerful soul. She was spiritual, compassionate, and brilliant, a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, and friend. Rabbi Alex Schindler had a passion for his family, for G-d, prayer, and spirituality. His love of Torah, his vision, and his leadership were central in transforming prayer and spirituality within the Reform Movement. To Rabbi Julie Ringold Spitzer, a loving partner to Abbe and a friend to many. She was an advocate for women and children who suffered abuse and had no voice. In addition I also wish to dedicate this CD to my family, Farfel, Randee and Dick Friedman, Stan Levy, Selwyn Gerber, Alan Smith, Jerry Kaye, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, Robin, Jeanine Albu, and Rich Weil. Thank you all for your immeasurable gifts. I also dedicate this CD to the firefighters, police officers, and EMTs who gave their lives while trying to save the many who were trapped and injured, and to all those who perished in the disasters of September 11, 2001. May their memories be for a blessing.
Light These Lights: Chanukah Songs for the Whole Family (2003)
Welcome Debbie into your home this holiday season with her recording of 14 spirited Chanukah songs that will fill your heart with light and joy. This recording by America's most beloved and acclaimed Jewish singer and songwriter, features Debbie's original favorites plus traditional Chanukah selections. Innovative contemporary arrangements make these songs sparkle like never before, and showcase Debbie's lyrical voice.
FROM THE LINER NOTES • • • •
LIGHT THESE LIGHTS is a collection of traditional and contemporary Chanukah songs. There is something for everyone. I have chosen to record these songs using S'fardi Hebrew and inclusive language, therefore you will find that some of the lyrics will be different from the traditional.
Chanukah is a time of light and enlightenment; when what is concealed in darkness is revealed to us by the miracle of light. It takes the shamash to kindle the lights, but we must facilitate in revealing the light. Chanukah is a time of rededication and a time of promise. We have the opportunity to decide how much we want to hide from ourselves and "stay in the dark" and how much we want to allow ourselves to grow and be the bearers of light for ourselves and others.
Times are very different now but I holdfast to my "sixties" vision of a world in which people will live together peacefully, respectfully, with love and compassion. I continue to do my work, to set Jewish prayer, text and poetry to music. It is my hope that people will find the way to a more peaceful, loving world through song. Each of us must decide that we want to live fully and happily. Sometimes it means that we have to give up what is known to us and what we think is comfortable and safe in order for us to be who we are truly meant to be.
I want to thank Randee Friedman for her support during this project. I want to thank Rabbi Debbie Bravo for giving her husband to this project for the last several months and I want to thank David Bravo, who, above all else, is my friend, whom I love and respect, whose musical gift and imaginative genius has given Chanukah a voice it has never had before. I also add a special thanks to Ann Lemon for her creative gifts.
I thank those of you who have filled my life with light, Mom, Cheryl & Barbara, Aunt Ann, Lisa, Ava, Farfel, Aunt Irlene, Bessie, Cindy & Barry, Savtas Carole & Debbie, Renee & Joe, Olga, Robin, Jeanine Albu, David Slavitt, & Rich Weil, J.J., Shifra, Emma, Koby, Sharon, Michael, Annie, Michael, Joy, Sharon & Carolyn, Judy, Susannah, Alan, Amira, Avital, Selwyn & Stan, who have been like my own personal angels.
Songs of the Spirit: The Debbie Friedman Anthology (2005)
This amazing anthology collection brings together 45 songs on 2 CDs, spanning over 30 years of Debbie Friedman's trailblazing career. This compilation of re-mastered original songs in Hebrew and English contains favorites from albums Sing Unto God, Not by Might, Ani Ma-amin, If Not Now When, And the Youth Shall See Visions, And You Shall Be a Blessing, The World of Your Dreams, Renewal of Spirit, Shirim al Galgalim, Shanah Tovah, The Journey Continues, It's You, The Alef Bet, The Water In the Well and Light These Lights. Fans will love the extensive liner notes with historical and personal background about many of the songs. Debbie's music is "...at once joyful, uplifting, soul-full, modern, elegantly simple and deeply anchored in Jewish tradition. This is the singular combination of qualities that makes Debbie Friedman's songs so singularly beloved, and which have earned her a cadre of 'chasidim,' devoted fans for whom her music is a central part of their spiritual practice."
Strong, clear vocals, wise and poignant lyrics, and matchless melodies - this collection presents Debbie Friedman at her best - over an astonishing 30 years of music making.
FILMS and OTHER MEDIA
Hanukkah Tales & Tunes / Miracles & Wonders
Celebrate Hanukkah with song, story, and puppetry. This 159-minute DVD features a 30-minute video program and an audio-only program by Debbie Friedman. In the video portion, "Hanukkah Tales & Tunes," K.J. the puppet wants to learn about Hanukkah. K.J.'s human friends introduce him to the stories of Antiocus Epiphanes, the miracle of the holy oil, and the dreidel through songs like "Miracles Aren't Just Magic," an enactment of "Galya and the Goblin," and heavily choreographed dances. Dan Crow and Fred Sokolow perform "The Dreidel Song" and Caren Glasser sings a "Hanukkah Medley." Debbie Friedman's "Miracles and Wonders: A Hanukkah Musical" and "A Purim Musical" (previously released on CD) comprise the audio portion of the DVD. Friedman's pure voice is pleasing and her music and lyrics bring Hanukkah traditions to life. The "Purim Musical" consists of songs written from the points of view of five major Purim figures. This DVD is both entertaining and educational. (Ages 3 to 8) --Tami Horiuchi
A Journey of Spirit (2005)
A wonderfully vibrant and moving film that makes us laugh, cry and sing! Ann Coppel’s thought-provoking documentary explores the transformation of liberal Jewish worship over the past 30 years through the inspirational story of Debbie Friedman.