Everyone knows about Matisyahu by now, who made a name for himself by infusing Jewish messages into the unlikely medium of reggae. Operating under the same marketing strategy, we have seen (especially in the Tri-State area) a surprising number of Jewish rappers who write about the New York City urban experience. Now, however, we have a response from the West Coast – Northridge, California, that is.
Just as the rappers, reggae artists, and hip hop groups have set themselves apart by melding their Jewish identities with unlikely backup tracks, Mare Winningham has released an album of Jewish songs with a country-and-western sound. The Jewish community continues to evolve as it incorporates more and more people from backgrounds that could be viewed as being somewhat different from our traditional notions of “who is a Jew.” As the community evolves, so does the culture, and never is that more clearly articulated than at a concert where the audience members sport as many kippahs as cowboy hats.