On the new album Songs of Wonder, singer/oud player Basya Schechter works with ten poems by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972)–the revolutionary thinker who wrote God in Search of Man and marched with Martin Luther King. Schechter sets Heschel’s words to music and turns them into songs.
Schechter is the woman behind the band Pharaoh’s Daughter, a Sephardic-influenced world music ensemble. Rather than trying to write Ashkenazic tunes to match Heschel’s background, Schechter wisely allows her Judeo-Spanish musical roots to take center stage. The more lyrical parts of each song (Heschel’s contribution) trade off with more symphonic musical sections and choruses (Schechter’s)–almost as if the two are jamming across time.
By using her musical vision, Schechter has matched the rabbi’s passion with her own, creating something that’s both deeply personal and universally stirring.