Thursday, December 4, 2014
Jewish Traces in Unexpected Places: Sharon Brauner Gives Yiddish a Whole New Look in Berlin Nightclubs
Berlin isn't the first place that comes to mind when thinking about Yiddish cabaret. And isn't a Yiddish nightclub act an oxymoron, at least in today's world?
But Yiddish nightlife in Berlin is hopping, and Sharon Brauner deserves a lot of the credit for these Jewish traces in an unexpected place.
Born in West Berlin in 1969, she attended a musical school and took a job as a bouncer, bartender, and go-go dancer in Berlin's trendy clubs. Then she studied acting at the Lee Strasberg institute in New York while singing jazz standards at night in various clubs.
Returning to Berlin as an actress, she appeared in more than 50 films, TV movies, and TV series playing roles of street girl, princcess, drug addict, stripper, secretary, thief, commissioner, Pakistani asylum seeker, German folk musician, Turkish cleaning woman, and loving psycho godmother.
Brauner launched a singing career, and dedicated herself to popularizing Yiddish classics that she knew from her childhood. She reinterpreted the songs, some of which are centuries old, in swing, jazz and pop, Balkan polka, Arab arabesques, South American rhythms, reggae, waltz, country, and tango elements. The songs captured the joy and the soul of the music.
The two videos below show the wide range of Brauner's Yiddish renditions. The first is a medley of Love Story and My Way, and the second is a lively version of Di Grine Kuzine (The Greenhorn Cousin), a major hit in 1921 in the Yiddish music halls on Second Avenue in New York. Greenhorn was a common tag for newly arrived, un-Americanized, and unadapted immigrants.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)