It's another talented Arad, with her own grand designs

By Nick Johnstone, August 12, 2010

When London based, British-Israeli singer-songwriter Lail Arad was a child, her father, the acclaimed designer Ron Arad, used to sing her to sleep.

"My dad plays guitar nicely," says Arad sipping mint tea in a cafe behind Oxford street. "And he used to change words to Leonard Cohen songs to be about me and my teddy bears and I was sure he wrote them all."


In Glasto's circus, we're the Animals

By Elisa Bray, July 28, 2010

Gabby Young and Other Animals are having a good summer. In June they played at Glastonbury and are now looking forward to several more festival appearances over the next couple of months.

Their single, We're All In This Together, was picked by Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis for the Storm the Charts competition, which aims to boost the profile and sales of 40 independent artists. Other Animals were the most downloaded band among all the groups chosen.


The Israeli rocker who wishes he could be more angry

By Jessica Elgot, July 15, 2010

For Israeli musicians, politics comes with the territory. Except that Asaf Avidan does not see it that way.

"I haven't ever written anything political. I write about what I feel," he insists. "It's like cheating if I sit down to write about an issue. I do listen to a lot of political artists and I wish I could feel as angry as they are so that it pours out into my music."

He adds, defensively: "If I want to go to a protest, I'll go to a protest, but I won't write a song about it."


The National: America's Radiohead

July 15, 2010

This has been a fine year for The National. The Brooklyn-based band saw their fifth album, High Violet, peak at number three in the US album charts and number five in the UK. They sold out the Royal Albert Hall, were a hit at the Glastonbury Festival last month and will be playing two nights at the Brixton Academy this autumn. Not bad for a group that spent the first five years of their existence regularly playing to crowds in single figures.


Interview: Lucinda Belle

By Paul Lester, July 1, 2010

It would probably be easier to list the things that session musician, recording artist and all-round busy bee Lucinda Belle has not done. She has toured with the Pet Shop Boys and Annie Lennox, been Robbie Williams's backing singer and harpist at the BBC Electric Proms, performed a duet with Mel Brooks and jammed with Tom Jones.


The moment when Matisyahu lost his cool

By Paul Lester, June 17, 2010

This is probably not the ideal moment to be interviewing Matisyahu, unless you enjoy the company of fired-up pop stars. Because it's the Tuesday after the Gaza aid flotilla incident and the Chasidic reggae artist and rapper - staying at the Holiday Inn in Brent Cross as he promotes his latest album, Light - is not happy.

The rangy New Yorker, 31 at the end of June, prowls around his hotel bedroom in kippah and green jogging pants. He places his tallit under his crumpled white T-shirt and sits down on the couch. In between mouthfuls of vegan curry, he assesses the events of the weekend.


The music the Nazis couldn't destroy

By Jessica Duchen, June 10, 2010

Terezin: the name inspires both horror and wonder. This Czech garrison town, also known as Theresienstadt, was home to one of the most extraordinary cultural phenomena of the Second World War. The inmates of its Jewish ghetto included swathes of the intelligentsia of Prague and Brno who were deported there. Confined within its walls, desperately overcrowded, disease-ridden and malnourished, a generation of composers, writers, artists, musicians and actors turned to their art to keep their spirits alive.


In tune with the East End

By Jessica Elgot, June 10, 2010

The Jewish Community Centre has commissioned three composers, one Jewish, one Muslim and one Christian, to write works to be performed at the Spitalfields Music Summer Festival in London's East End this weekend.

The Radio 3 presenter and world-music fanatic, Max Reinhardt, has taken on the challenge of writing a piece inspired by the area's Jewish history, which he has called Fifth Quarter.


At 17, Janis Ian was snorting cocaine with Jimi Hendrix

By Jonathan Wingate, June 3, 2010

When a shy-looking 15-year-old Janis Ian finished performing her song, Society's Child, on Leonard Bernstein's television show, Inside Pop - The Rock Revolution, in 1967, Bernstein beamed at her with palpable pride. "You're a great creature," he gushed. "I think that's quite a remarkable job for a girl of your age, and I congratulate you on what's going to be a brilliant career."


The gospel truth about the church music that's Jewish

By Jessica Elgot, May 27, 2010

No one could accuse Jewish music of not being diverse. There is Jewish reggae and hip hop, Jewish folk, even Jewish heavy metal. But despite Judaism's eclectic modern sound, Jewish gospel still feels like an oxymoron.

Not so, says black Jewish gospel singer Joshua Nelson. The impassioned choir music most commonly associated with church singing groups is actually one of the most inherently Jewish sounds around.