‘Free to be me’

As the Woodstock Revival concert celebrates the past, singer Libi looks to the future as she makes aliya for the second time.

singer Libi (photo credit: Courtesy)
singer Libi
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Growing up as an Orthodox Jew with a love of singing, Libi faced controversy in her Monsey community years before becoming a rock singer. While struggling to submit to the expectations of the religious community, where women are forbidden to sing in the presence of men, she recalls standing up to an authority figure, asserting her right to express her passion for rock music.
“When I got suspended [from school for having a Beatles magazine inside my Humash], I wouldn’t go back until the teacher bought me a new magazine,” she recounts.
The singer doesn’t see herself as having changed from a young Orthodox girl to becoming a rock singer, but believes these were both embedded throughout her life. “It wasn’t a transition, it was just something that was me and that had to be.”
Returning to Israel after several years of performing in the US, Libi and her band the Flashbacks will be covering songs by Joe Cocker and Cream at the Jerusalem Woodstock Revival III concert at Kraft Stadium on July 14.
In 1980 guitar player Mariano Siguera from Buenos Aires heard Libi singing in a bar in Israel. He asked her to join his band, known as The Flash.
“There was a real need for music that wasn’t here in the 1980s,” says Libi, 60, who goes by no other name.
According to the singer, their songs were different from the usual love ballads created in the 1980s. “We wrote songs about prostitution, war and hatred,” she says. When the war in Lebanon broke out, Siguera got drafted into the army and the band broke up.
An incarnation of the band came together several years later in 2005. They regrouped as Libi and the Flashbacks, with members much younger than Libi joining the band. “Every week we bring in friends and guests to play,” she says.
Libi is excited about playing at the upcoming Woodstock concert. “The Woodstock Festival is about keeping this music alive and keeping this world where it is today,” she says. The last time Libi played in Israel was several years ago. This time, she will be performing in front of her kids and hundreds of fans. “It’s like a welcome home party for me,” she says.
Libi was influenced to make aliya through the encouragement of her Zionist father. Spending Shabbat and holidays showing his daughter pictures of Abraham and Sarah and of Israeli soldiers living on kibbutzim protecting their fellow citizens, Libi’s father stressed the importance of Israel to the Jewish people. These experiences and a family trip to Israel had a major effect on her life and, as an adult, Libi decided to go to Israel and stay for good.
Libi enjoys performing in front of audiences and feels she has a positive influence on others. “How wonderful it is to be able to make people feel rhythm and feel happy,” she says. She believes that singing is a gift meant to be utilized by all Jewish people, men and women alike. She doesn’t see the Jewish community as a hindrance to women’s right to sing but an encouragement.
“As a Jewish people, we’ve been singing forever. It’s a gift from Hashem [God] that’s meant to be used.”
The Woodstock Revival was established two years ago, 40 years after the original Woodstock concert in 1969.
This year 2,000 people are expected to show up, according to Nadia Levene, who is promoting the event.
A summer celebration featuring 1960s-style music, competitions and entertainment for all ages, the event will include performances by Israeli performers who will cover music by Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix.
“It has become an amazing success; people love it,” she says Levene.
The event has arts-and-crafts booths, juggling, facepainting, prizes for best-dressed hippie, a raffle benefiting American Football in Israel (AFI) and a Woodstock Trivia Quiz. Levene says this celebration allows people to enjoy the Jerusalem area during the summer in a calm, laid-back atmosphere. “It’s just the most amazing magical feeling,” she says.
The Woodstock Revival event was established by AFI and is sponsored by the American Center of Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Foundation and Jem’s Beer Factory.
Proceeds from the event will go to AFI organizations that provide football-related activities for youth in Israel.
Tickets: Kraft Stadium 623-6443; www.misterticket.co.il; or Bimot 623-7000. For more information and tickets, visit www.woodstockrevival.com or contact Nadia Levene at 054-533-7000 ladidah2000@gmail.com. Discount tickets are available until July 10.