Paul Lester

Why leave people in the dark about what they are truly capable of?

By Paul Lester, November 16, 2015

You may not have heard of Stanley Milgram, but chances are you will be aware of his psychology experiment from 1961. In it, he arranged for a dour scientist in a grey lab-coat to instruct certain people ("teachers") to administer increasingly severe electric shocks to an affable stranger in an adjacent room if he gave the wrong answers to questions in a test.


Art Garfunkel: The truth about me and Paul

By Paul Lester, June 11, 2015

At a hotel in London, one half of the most popular duo in rock history is apologising for keeping me waiting. No worries, I tell him. I don't have anything else on, apart from an interview for the JC later in the day with comedian Jackie Mason. "Isn't he fabulous?" Art Garfunkel says with a smile, taking a seat in the bar. "I'm wild about that guy.


Jackie Mason: Yes, I think I helped break down barriers

By Paul Lester, May 28, 2015

Jackie Mason, the legendary Jewish comedian, might be 83 years old, but he's still much in demand. Three years after undertaking his Farewell Tour on these shores, he is about to embark on a week-long residency at London's Adelphi Theatre, under the quaint title of Ready To Rumble, with brand new material and a familiar agenda: to prick our pretensions and expose our hypocrisies.


Interview: Mark Ronson

By Paul Lester, April 25, 2015

Mark Ronson is showing me the Woody Allen poster that takes pride of place at the entrance to his recording studio in King's Cross, London. The studio is named after Zelig, the 1983 Allen mockumentary about the fictional character who changes identity according to his environment and appears at key moments in history.


Bryn Terfel on singing Tevye: 'I've always felt the character is in my blood'

By Paul Lester, February 12, 2015

It is one of the quintessential Jewish roles of musical theatre — Tevye, in Fiddler On The Roof — and, this summer, for a season at the Grange Park Opera in Hampshire, the part of the impoverished milkman in pre-revolutionary Russia is being played by Bryn Terfel, the world-renowned opera singer, who is a) manifestly Welsh and b) not remotely Jewish.


Sing the praises of a Jewish Christmas

By Paul Lester, December 18, 2014

Santa Baby. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire). Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Some of the best-known Christmas songs were written by Jews. White Christmas - the biggest-selling single of all time- was penned by a Jew, Irving Berlin, with sales estimated at over 50 million.


Interview: Nili Hadida

By Paul Lester, October 14, 2014

The biggest band you've never heard of? Try Paris-based Lilly Wood and the Prick. This summer, the remix by German electronic music DJ Robin Schulz of their single, Prayer In C, reached number one in 35 countries, including the UK. Meanwhile, the video on YouTube has garnered upwards of 48 million views. You would imagine Lilly Wood's singer, Israeli-born Nili Hadida, might be ecstatic.


Lynsey de Paul, the star who never wanted the spotlight

By Paul Lester, October 7, 2014

Lynsey De Paul, who died last week of a brain haemorrhage, aged 64, was a household name in the 1970s. But the petite performer with the blond hair and beauty spot was a reluctant star who was happier composing behind the scenes.

She was born Lynsey Monckton Rubin in 1950 and grew up in Cricklewood, north London, before the family moved to Canon's Park.


Review: Barbra Streisand Partners

By Paul Lester, September 23, 2014

At the time of writing, Barbra Streisand's latest album - her 34th LP release - is due to hit the top of the American charts. If it does, it will make her the first artist to have had a number one in each of the past six decades. As the title suggests, Partners is a duets album, the sort of thing that all the music legends - notably Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett - have done.


Jessie Ware: Things are looking up for the queen of UK soul

By Paul Lester, September 18, 2014

Back in the days when Jessie Ware was a young web reporter for the JC, she helped to compile a gig guide. "I used to do the listings for Jewish people appearing at Brixton Academy and now I'm playing there," says the acclaimed soul singer and songwriter, amazed by the transition. "It's fabulous." Has her change in fortunes exceeded her wildest expectations? "Absolutely."


Jess Glynne: The chart-topper who lives with her mum

By Paul Lester, July 24, 2014

In her description, Jess Glynne has experienced a "whirlwind" of a year. Twelve months ago, she was still working as part of the brand management team for a company dealing in the importing and exporting of alcohol. Then, last August, she handed in her notice, signed to the prestigious Atlantic label and began releasing records.


Matisyahu: He's lost his locks and wife but found a new voice

By Paul Lester, July 10, 2014

In 2011, American Chasidic reggae-rapper Matisyahu (aka Matthew Paul Miller) shaved off his beard and announced that he was "reclaiming" himself. "At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher level of religiosity… to move away from my intuition and to accept an ultimate truth," he told fans via his website.


Lana Del Ray: Ultraviolence

By Paul Lester, June 26, 2014

Lana Del Rey's previous album, 2012's Born To Die, sold seven million copies and made her one of the biggest new stars on the planet, albeit one of the most mysterious. She seemed almost too good to be true, like a '50s B-movie starlet who had stepped straight off the screen into a recording career. There were, as a result, questions raised about the authenticity of the artist born Lizzy Grant.


Interview: Howie B

By Paul Lester, June 6, 2014

There are two Howard Bernsteins who are regularly in the news. One - a Sir no less - is chief executive of Manchester City Council. Perhaps to distinguish himself from his civic namesake, the other operates as Howie B and is famous for producing U2, Björk, Tricky, Massive Attack, Goldie and Soul II Soul, and for remixing everyone from Annie Lennox to Steve Reich and Simply Red.


Interview: Mark Ronson

By Paul Lester, May 15, 2014

Amy Winehouse's producer Mark Ronson hasn't exactly been quiet since last interviewed by the JC in 2007. He released a solo album called Record Collection in 2010 and has produced, among others, Adele, Bruno Mars, Duran Duran, Beyonce's sister Solange, Kaiser Chiefs, rap legends Nas and Ghostface Killah, and Paul McCartney.


Blondie mainstay gets to focus on the negatives as 10th album comes out

By Paul Lester, April 17, 2014

When a prominent member of a legendary American pop-rock-disco-rap band inquires as to your well-being, you’d better make sure your reply is more interesting than “Fine, thanks”.


Kylie Minogue - Kiss Me Once (Parlophone)

By Paul Lester, April 7, 2014

When Madonna wore a Kylie Min-ogue T-shirt to the MTV European Music Awards in 2000, it was assumed she was being magnanimous and ironic. But the fact is that, in this country at least, Kylie is as big a deal these days.


Rothman reaps rewards for brushing up on his Grammar

By Paul Lester, February 20, 2014

London Grammar’s melancholy chill-out pop, with its blend of wan melody and gently pattering trip hop rhythms, has been one of the musical triumphs of the past year. The trio, who met at Nottingham University in 2009, saw their 2013 debut album If You Wait reach number two in the UK and go top 20 around the world.


Life in Rough Trade: How Geoff Travis became a major player for indie bands

By Paul Lester, February 17, 2014

As founder of the Rough Trade record store, distribution company and label, Geoff Travis has done as much as anyone to promote indie music as an alternative to mainstream, major record company product.


Barbara Streisand: Back To Brooklyn

By Paul Lester, January 17, 2014

Back To Brooklyn is a CD and DVD package recording Barbra Streisand's return to her roots - her concerts in October last year, which were her first in the neighbourhood where she was raised.