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Biography

  • Born

    23 February 1951

  • Died

    9 January 2011 (aged 59)

Debbie Friedman was one of the most popular and influential creators of Jewish music in North America in the past 30~35 years. Born in 1952and raised in Minneapolis, Debbie began song leading at Reform Jewish youth summer camps in the late 1960s including the National Federation of Temple Youth national leadership camp in Warwick, NY. Her style brought the traditional Jewish spiritual practice of singing Biblical verses and sacred phrases of liturgical prayer into the popular contemporary American folk-rock musical genre. Over the years, she produced a tremendous output of enormously popular pieces, many of which have been adopted into the regular prayer practice of hundreds, even thousands, of synagogues so that many in the younger generation don't recognize them as innovative at all but think of them as "the tradition". Debbie Friedman performed in thousands of concerts all over the world. She was also a teacher and cantor at the New Reform Congregation in Los Angeles, California, as well as being involved in the multi-faith center of worship that has risen out of the ruins of the World Trade Center area. She directed the music program at the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, creating an annual songleading and music workshop there entitled Hava Nashira. Friedman inspired dozens of younger proteges and influenced an entire generation or more of North American Jewish music.

While she often performed concerts both solo and with a trio at the national conventions of major Jewish organizations, in synagogues, schools, youth camps and festivals, she also appeared at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, where she recorded a live CD in 1996. "Mi Shebeirach", a song of healing, is one of the most beautiful numbers that have appeared on some 20 Friedman releases.

Sadly, Debbie passed away on January 10, 2011.

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