Cleveland Performance on May 21
On May 21, Pey Dalid high-end Jewish musicians together with Nelson will put on a musical performance. It will be for the B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Cleveland.
Cantor Aaron Shifman of B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike likes to present a diversified program. He does this for the synagogue’s annual spring concert.
With that objective in mind, Shifman has selected two very different acts… Joshua Nelson and Pey Dalid – as the featured performers in “Joyful Noise” at 7 p.m. May 21 at B’nai Jeshurun.
Nelson, of Newark, N.J., is a black Jew who calls himself “The Prince of Kosher Gospel.” Pey Dalid, a New York-based band that features three brothers, performs a blend of musical styles called world music.
“(The two acts) will complement each other very nicely,” Shifman said. “Music is very subjective. One size does not fit all; everyone likes their own genre. So we try to do a very well-rounded program.”
Shifman, who will join Nelson and Pey Dalid for the finale after each does their own set, said he’s confident this year’s show will be a real crowd pleaser.
A Great Jewish Muscians Performance
“I’ve always prided myself and this synagogue on bringing high-end musicians and performers who really bring something unique to the community,” said Shifman, who has presented at least one concert each year at B’nai Jeshurun since 1999. “While the genres are different, the commonality (of the two acts) is the sincerity in what they are singing about and how it flows from their hearts.”
Nelson’s kosher gospel music combines Jewish religious lyrics and meanings with the soulful sounds of American gospel music, according to his website.
“I believe the crowd will really enjoy his music because it is so different and because he has taken his niche and made it Jewish,” Shifman said. “He’s got a beautiful voice, and he really puts his heart and soul into everything he does.”
In a telephone interview from his home in Newark, Nelson said his music is “totally Jewish” as expressed “through the soul of a black Jew.”
“There’s nothing Christian about it,” he said. “It’s more or less an African expression, really shouting out the prayers of Jewish life and being proud about it. It will sound like Mahalia Jackson davening in Hebrew.”
Nelson was raised Jewish in his grandparents’ home in East Orange, N.J. He said his grandmother was a fan of Jackson, a popular recording artist in the 1950s and 1960s known as “The Queen of Gospel,” and he listened to her music and became interested in it.
Also, Nelson got influence from the music at a black synagogue he was at with his family in Brooklyn, N.Y. He later joined a Reform temple in South Orange, N.J.
“I was a Hebrew school teacher for 16 years in New Jersey, and this music helped with teaching the kids, preparing them for their bar and bat mitzvahs,” he said. “The rabbi asked me, ‘How are you getting the kids to learn so quickly?’ I said, ‘I’m teaching them kosher gospel music, and they’re enjoying it.’”
Nelson, who sings in Hebrew and English and plays piano, said he has performed in Cleveland before but not at B’nai Jeshurun. He’ll come with three male singers called the Kosher Gospel Singers.
“Most songs we do are songs Jews recognize with our own arrangement, like ‘Hinei Ma Tov’ and ‘Mi Chamocha,’” he said. “We tend to start out the songs in the traditional way and branch off into our style.
“I’m very much looking forward to bringing some energy and having a great time with the congregation.”
Pey Dalid’s Part
Pey Dalid is led by brothers Mordechai, Pesach and Shlomo Walker, who share the vocals and compose most of the band’s music, as high-end Jewish musicians.
“They do a wide range of electric fusion, and it captures a wide array of music, very high energy,” Shifman said. They are very good Jewish musicians as well as harmonizing together, and their voices blend exceptionally well.
These top notch Jewish musicians have it all down pat; Shlomo Walker plays lead guitar, while Mordechai is the rhythm guitarist and Pesach plays the drums. Joining them on stage will be David Backer on bass guitar, Andrew Friedman on keyboard and Cody Rowlands on trumpet.
“What we bring to our music is a different variety of sounds and styles we grew up with. We have been listening to them for most of our lives,” Mordechai Walker said in a telephone interview from Pesach’s home in Riverdale, in the Bronx, N.Y. “It’s a very eclectic kind of music with different influences from across the world.”
Pey Dalid’s Origins
Pey Dalid’s Jewish musician band began in 1999. It derives its name from the Hebrew letters pey and dalet, which combine for a numeric value of 84.
“When you bring the two together, it allows harmony for those dualities,” Mordechai Walker said. “Pey Dalid is ultimately a fusion between the infinite and the finite and the physical and the spiritual.”
Also a trio of singing brothers, the Bee Gees, was a major influence on the Walker brothers. This is not only musically but in terms of their beautiful harmonies, Mordechai said.
Being a Family
“The power of family projected through music can be so beyond description. This is because the bonding that comes through family is an element that can’t be bought or found,” he said. “You’re born with it. It’s nothing we control, but it’s something we’re very proud of, particularly through the vocals.”
Pey Dalid, which sings in Hebrew and English, will perform some songs from its new album, “Ashem Melech…” When it makes its Cleveland debut May 21.
“We want everyone to have a smile on their face and to be ready to have a great new experience!” Pesach Walker said. “We’re also big fans of Joshua Nelson. I think the two of us coming together is a unique opportunity. I hope the people will find inspiration from the musicians who will share the stage.”
What to Expect
The concert should run less than two hours. It will then close with a tribute to Jerusalem in honor of Jerusalem Reunification Day. It is underwritten by the Daniel and Ethel Hamburger Music Fund, of which Harold and Sandra Levine are the trustees.
View this article on Cleveland Jewish News.