Spiritual Sounds


If — by chance — you start flipping through Christian radio
stations and you come across some Hebrew songs, the person singing them is most
likely Sam Glaser, a Los Angeles-based Orthodox musician whose spiritual music
is traversing religious boundaries. “I have no idea how the stations heard
about me,” Glaser said. “But whenever I have concerts, I have [Christians]
coming up to me and saying things like, ‘The Lord has blessed you.'”

Glaser’s music is considered contemporary spiritual. He
started out as a rock ‘n’ roller in the ’80s, touring nightclubs in Southern
California, but, in 1991, Glaser started keeping Shabbat, and his music
changed accordingly. It didn’t lose its up-tempo rhythm or its pop
sensibilities, he said, but it started reflecting his growing religious
awareness. “The more I learn and the more I grow in my Yiddishkayt, it
naturally gets expressed in my music,” he said. “Judaism gives me endless
inspiration.”

As a Jewish musician who writes and performs his own
material, Glaser found that his talents are now in demand all over America. To
date, he has recorded 11 Jewish CDs, each a top seller in the Jewish market.
Glaser hopes his latest album, “The Bridge,”  will be a bridge between secular
and religious Jews. “The whole idea is getting along with our fellow Jews,
having interdenominational communication, having people deal with each other
with kindness and understanding,” Glaser said. “The unity is crucial to our
survival.”

Glaser regularly goes on 50-city tours, a schedule that he
finds both exhausting and wonderful. “It is a crazy way to earn a living,” he
said. “I sometimes shake my head and wonder ‘what am I doing here?’ — but the feeling
of performing for smiling, singing people, moving them toward a more spiritual
place in their lives is about as satisfying as anything that I have ever done,
and it outweighs the tsurus of security checks at airports.”

On Feb. 9, Glaser will perform a benefit concert with
the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. The proceeds
from the concert will go to The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance. For tickets
call 310-478-9311; or visit www.lajewishsymphony.com. For more information on
Sam Glaser, log on to www.samglaser.com

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