Joshua Nelson, an African-American Jew known as the Prince of Gospel Music, has been praised by critics across the world for his unique voice. He was born to black Jewish father and a Jewish mother of Romanian descent who had been given up for adoption and raised by a black Baptist woman—Joshua’s adoptive grandmother—who encouraged her to practice Orthodox Judaism. “This Baptist woman renewed our faith in Judaism,” Joshua said of his adoptive grandmother, who also introduced him to the recordings of renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Joshua attended a black synagogue in New York as a child, but his family eventually found a home at the nearby Reform Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, N.J., whose rabbi had marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. Joshua taught Hebrew school there for 15 years and continued his studies of Judaism on a college and kibbutz program in Israel. While there, he started blending Hebrew texts with gospel melodies and arranging Jewish hymns in gospel style. “What makes our music kosher is it’s Jewish, but presented in a gospel style,” Joshua has explained. “The liturgy is all Jewish. It’s like taking hallelujah back.” A documentary, Keep on Walking: Joshua Nelson: The Jewish Gospel Singer (2000), won the Paul Robeson Award at the Newark Black Film Festival and aired internationally. His CDs include Hebrew Soul (2004) and Mi Chamocha (2005).
September 24 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Bringing It All Back Home to Washington Square
with The Klezmatics and Joshua Nelson
Free outdoor concert