Yasmin Levy 88.
(photo credit: )
Yasmin Levy seems to have been around a long time, strutting her stuff on stages across the country and around the world to great acclaim. Indeed a full decade has passed since she first burst onto the scene with her well received debut release Romance & Yasmin. So it comes as some surprise to hear the 34-year-old Jerusalem-born Ladino singer says she feels she has only just arrived. "I was recently doing a show in Greece and suddenly, right there on the stage, in the middle of a song, I felt 'that's it, I'm a singer.' I suddenly felt I didn't have to prove anything to anyone anymore. This is who I am, take it or leave it."
In the past 10 years there have been plenty of takers, the latest being the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra (IKO) with which Levy is currently touring the country (January 9-16).
Levy maintains a punishing performance schedule. The current, and by her standards relatively pedestrian, tour is a hiatus in her globetrotting and comes off the back of three months on the road touring Europe. "We stayed at over 50 hotels. And there are the flights, the trains, the interviews." Doesn't sound like too much fun.
"You know, when you're on tour you just get on with it but, when I come home, that's when I fall to pieces."
Still, Levy says the hard work has begun to pay off, and it is getting easier to get her message across. "It's been a hard slog over the years, doing all those interviews and explaining about Ladino music. But, today, people know about it. I do the sound check, and then the show and, after the concert, you have people lining up to meet me, hug me, some have their photos taken with me and some cry with me."
If nothing else, Levy is one of the most emotive performers around. At any given moment, in any performance and, indeed, at any point in any her albums - her fourth, Sentir, came out three months ago and garnered wildly enthusiastic reviews across the globe - Levy lets it all hang out. Sometimes, in fact, it is hard to believe she can sustain such a powerful emotional maelstrom for so long.
"There are no compromises with me," the singer declares. "I only do what I believe in and I don't have any filters." Although that gloves-off ethos helps Levy captivate her audiences it also has its downside.
"I had to ask my sidemen for permission to be natural with them and to express my frustrations if I need to. I told them they shouldn't feel hurt by the way I behave with them. My instrumentalists work for me but they're also my friends. There's nothing that annoys me more than when someone misses a note. But the same goes for me, if I don't get something right on the nail."
This doesn't appear to be a problem with the current local circuit. "The Israel Kibbutz Orchestra and [conductor] Yaron Gottfried are fantastic," says Levy.
"It's a pleasure and an honor to work with them." The IKO-Levy synergy features a Spanish-Andalusian flavored program, including orchestrated versions of some of Levy's material plus a rendition of Manuel de Falla's rousing Andalusian style El Amor Brujo.
So, things are going well for Levy but apparently that too can have its pitfalls. "I've achieved so much these past ten years. You know they say it is hard to realize your dreams, but I think it is harder when you make your dreams come true. What do you do next?"
ng international trajectory, seems highly unlikely, watch out for some particularly sonorous animal sounds in your neighborhood.
Yasmin Levy and the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra will perform at Givat Brenner on January 9, the Kimaron Hall in Bet She'an on January 10, Ein Hashofet on January 14 and Givatayim Theater on January 16. For more details go to: http://www.kibbutz-orchestra.co.il or www.yasminlevy.net.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>