Yiddishland is a freshly released album by Karolina Cicha in which she combines the rough sounds of the thousand-year-old Yiddish language with ethno jazz melodies and the biographies of long forgotten poets from Podlasie.
Yiddishland is the continuation of the work on a previous album entitled 9 Languages / Wieloma językami (In many languages), in which Karolina Cicha along with Bartek Pałyga gathered songs in nine different national minority languages of people living in Białystok and the surrounding area. ‘The Yiddish-language poetry and fascination with Jewish culture demanded to be explored in a separate project’, the talented vocalist and multi-instrumentalist said. She collaborated with Hebraists and specialists on Yiddish, searched through the Podlasie archives and made her way through the exotic Yiddish phonetics in order to finally choose 12 poems to include on the album, many of which have been sung for the very first time thanks to her.
Yiddishland includes one utterly forgotten poem by Rabin Elilezer Szulam as well as an excerpt of a song by Rivki Riktiner – a 16th-century theologist from Tykocin. I made an attempt to juxtapose the pieces in such a way that, thanks to the music, they could reflect on each other.
– the artist explains.
The first piece on the album Yiddishland is Białystok majn hejm, a song full of hope that was created in Tashkent in 1942 by an author who most likely knows nothing of the existing ghetto there. The last piece is Ewa Demarczyk’s Rebeka, the only song in Polish on the album. Cicha also discovered Jewish authors who were not published during their lifetime and others who received recognition near the end of their lives. She admits that this album is the most literary, theatrical and challenging project of her career so far. Apart from the history of Jewish poetry from the North-East part of Poland, she also investigates musical cultures that have made an impact on her over the years.
'I take a close look at the musical roots of this land – I show the extraordinary wealth of this part of Europe', says the artist from Białystok. Her unique voice and the accordion complement the jazz arrangements by Piotr Domagalski and the ethnic instruments, such as the baglamas.
Yiddishland by Karolina Cicha & Spółka premiered this year during the Jewish culture – Singer Warsaw Festival.
Edited by: AL, September 2015, Translated by: Zuzanna Wiśniewska