Vocalist Noya Sol performs at the online International Blues Day event

Listening to Noya Sol, even after just a couple of bars into whichever number she is singing, conveys irrefutably that she is a roots die-hard.

Noya Sol and Moti Dror (photo credit: MOTI WAXMAN)
Noya Sol and Moti Dror
(photo credit: MOTI WAXMAN)
Opinions about what the real blues deal is tend to be divided. That applies to all sorts of aspects of the multilayered genre. Some adhere tenaciously to the roots side of the tracks, and swear that if it ain’t acoustic and reeking of the Deep South then it just isn’t blues. Then again, there is a powerful lobby for the northern electric take, which largely dates back to Chicago when some of the stalwarts of the source sounds of the south migrated to the Windy City in the early 1940s, in search of a less racist milieu in which to live and work.
Listening to Noya Sol, even after just a couple of bars into whichever number she is singing, conveys irrefutably that she is a roots die-hard. The 28-year-old Israeli vocalist is in the lineup of the forthcoming one day local edition of the International Blues Day event, an online novel coronavirus guideline-compatible version of which will take place under the steady curatorial hand of Yamit Hagar tomorrow (August 1). The roster features some of our own top bluesmen and blueswomen, such as Yaron Ben-Ami, Uri Ramirez, Avital Tamir and Ofir Ventura, and some leading lights from overseas, including American guitarist-vocalists Sean Apple, Jontavious Willis, Lucious Spiller and Meredith Axelrod.
The “what you see is what you get” tenet is definitely not applicable to Sol. Your first visual impression – should you consider her musical expression tendencies – would probably place her in the pop-rock category with, possibly, some indie leanings in there. But close your eyes and open your ears and you might find yourself cast back to the Deep South in the earlier parts of the 20th century. There appears to be an old soul in that young body.
As far as Sol is concerned it all – everything – begins from the blues.  “Sister Rosetta Tharpe – I sing songs of hers from between 1915 and 1920, before the electric guitar was invented. She sings a song called Didn’t It Rain,” Sol notes. Here, she will perform alongside guitarist Moti Dror.
Sol adds that Tharpe – one of the giants of early blues and gospel – recorded an acoustic version of the aforementioned number and thereafter recorded a second reading in the 1940s when she accompanied herself on electric guitar. “She didn’t know, at the time, she was starting off this whole thing called rock and roll. She did another version in England, that was pure rock and roll. She didn’t know she was sparking rock and roll.” The latter performance had Tharpe singing and playing on a train station platform not far from Manchester which, considering the titular precipitation, and the northwest of England’s reputation for wet weather conditions, wasn’t a bad choice.
It is the work of the likes of Tharpe, and fabled blues-jazz singer Bessie Smith, who performed and recorded across the US between 1913 and her untimely death in 1937, that tugged on Sol’s heartstrings and drew her to acoustic early blues and gospel-seasoned material. “My mother had lots of cassettes with this music, and I listened to it,” Sol recalls. “It really grabbed me.”
Before long she began putting her newfound musical love where her mouth was, and was taken under the highly experienced wing of veteran blues guitarist Shlomo Ariel. “Shlomo taught me so much,” she says. “We performed together a lot before the pandemic. I really miss him.”
Sol also honed her burgeoning musical skills during a two-year sojourn in London where she learned about record production, in addition to upgrading her vocal delivery. She also befriended a bunch of black women who drew her into the world of gospel. “They said I should go with them to church,” Sol explains. “But I told them I can’t go because I am Jewish.” Sol eventually relented and was duly introduced to the heady vibes of gospel music performed in its natural setting. “I am Jewish but I believe that god exists anywhere where people pray to him. Ever since then I have gospel in my veins.”
That should be evident in Sol’s online slot tomorrow, and she is about to put out her debut recording, A Different Prayer, with 8 cover versions – including Hebrew numbers – and a couple of originals. “I was sent to represent Israel in a blues competition in Memphis in 2018,” says Sol. “I sang there, in New Orleans, and I earned the respect of the people there for my music. That is a huge compliment.”
For tickets and more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/311165340293448/