January 18, 2019

Voices of Hope

Chances are, there are not many singer-songwriters whose oeuvre contains subjects as disparate as the “Shecheyanu” and a visit to the dentist. But such is the nature of Craig Taubman’s career.

As founding director of Yad B’Yad, the Jewish Federation Council’s teen performing arts program, and after two decades of performing his brand of Jewish-themed pop across the country, he’s one of the community’s better-known balladeers. With his buoyant, accessible children’s music, Taubman also occupies a niche in the broader market of family entertainment, including Walt Disney Records and national concert tours with his Craig ‘n Co. band.

The two sides of his career coexist easily enough. The themes that dominate his more Jewishly oriented material — community, spirituality, bonds of love and responsibility — work their way naturally into his upbeat kids’ music. And, besides, how many other musicians who have done gigs for Menachem Begin and Bill Clinton can claim a televised jam session with Mickey Mouse?

Taubman’s next performance will be a family affair. He and his sister, Caren Glasser, the cantor at Kol Tikvah, a reform congregation in Woodland Hills, will be at the Skirball Museum on Saturday evening, June 21, to perform “A Night Under the Jewish Stars.” The concert will mark the release of their new CD, “Voices of Hope,” and will feature songs from that joint project. The two, who live at opposite ends of the San Fernando Valley, got together with The Spectator at Taubman’s house recently to talk about music’s role in the life of the Jewish community.

“The songs on ‘Voices of Hope’ are loosely based on psalms,” Taubman said. “I guess you could say they’re songs centered around the theme of hope and prayer.”

“A lot of these songs have been road-tested at Kol Tikvah,” Glasser said. “People have really responded well to them.”

It has been 11 years since the siblings last worked together — a recording of Taubman’s first children’s album. That eventually led to his live concerts for the Disney Channel. In the meantime, Glasser, a student of classical music, recorded children’s songs for Rhino Records.

“Then, three years ago, I decided to study to be a cantor,” she said. “At Kol Tikvah, music happens to really be central to the life of the synagogue, and I love it. I officiate at weddings and sing at bar mitzvahs. Now, I wonder what took me so long.”

“You know, part of the challenge has always been creating an atmosphere that encourages participation,” Taubman said. “A good chunk of the material on this CD is written so that people could sing along with it. It’s congregation-friendly,”

A Night Under the Jewish Stars” is Saturday, June 21, at 8 p.m., at the Skirball Cultural Center. For ticket prices and information, call (310) 440-4647. The CD “Voices of Hope” will be available for purchase at the concert.

Go to The Jewish Journal’s 7 DAYS IN THE ARTS