ATARA, an arts and Torah association, and Spotlight on Women have joined forces to create the Jewish Women’s Playlists channel on YouTube, featuring music videos exclusively from Torah-observant (Orthodox) female artists from around the world.
The creators, Esther Leah Marchette of Boston, a founder and co-director of ATARA, and Annie Orenstein of Ma’ale Adumim, Israel, the founder and director of Spotlight on Women, say the project is for the viewing and inspiration of women and girls. It includes 36 (and growing) Chanukah-related songs that cover a wide variety of modern and traditional vocal and instrumental genres, including pop, blues, classical music, soul, folk, musical theater, jazz and more.
“It is unique in that it brings together many artists under one umbrella, and it is celebratory and uplifting in its collaboration, rather than competitive,” says Orenstein.
The plan is for it to be an ongoing channel, updated monthly, including new releases and mini interviews to introduce the public to the performing artists, writers and composers. Orenstein says they also plan to create specialized playlists, for example, for dance and more, “to help Jewish women who are performing artists flourish.”
“ATARA provides Torah-observant female creative and performing artists with opportunities to express creativity, advance professionally and connect to a likeminded community,” explains Marchette, a graduate of Berklee College of Music and a singer/songwriter who plays three instruments. She also has 20 years’ experience in technical management and program management in the software industry and is currently a technical project manager for SoundExchange, a company that collects and distributes digital performance royalties for sound recordings.
Orenstein adds, about her organization, “Spotlight on Women creates platforms for artists to discover, develop and define who they are, both on stage and off.” Her past projects include open mic nights, performance contests and a radio show where she hosted scores of Orthodox female performing artists. She has met with hundreds of performers over the years in Israel, giving them a safe and supportive stage to share their voices, and says she loves being there for the birth of a new song, calling herself “a music doula.”
The behind-the-scenes international team included Dr. Miriam Leah Gamliel of Montreal, founder and co-director of ATARA, which has jump-started careers of many Orthodox female performing artists over the years through its conferences and social media presence, Henya Storch of the Storch Agency International of Woodmere, N.Y., who offers arts consulting and career advice, who, along with Penina Popack, a patron of the arts and executive music and theater producer, encouraged Orenstein to collaborate with ATARA on the project when Orenstein visited the two of them at Popack’s home in Lawrence, N.Y., last month, and other women involved in ATARA leadership.
Storch says, “This playlist channel, that will continue throughout the year, connects women and girls to our beautiful heritage and joy in Torah life.”
(Disclosure: I am an advisor to ATARA and have my own song on the playlist.)
Marchette and Orenstein ask that women let them know which songs they love in the comments beneath their introductory video or to write to them at email@example.com. That is also the address to submit one’s work. And they invite you to share it, as a Chanukah gift, with your female friends and relatives.
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