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November 2: Only in America

November 2, 2011

Jay Black (David Blatt), leader singer of the all-Jewish group, Jay and the Americans, was born in an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn on this date in 1938. Along with Kenny Vance (Rosenberg), Sandy Yaguda, Sydell Sherman, Marty Sander and Howard Kane (Kirschenbaum), Jay created such hits as “Only in America,” “Cara Mia,” “Let’s Lock the Door (and Throw Away the Key),” “This Magic Moment” and “Come A Little Bit Closer,” all featuring his operatic (though not always precisely on-key) voice. Jay and the Americans toured with the Beatles in 1964. Two years later, Black recorded “Where Is The Village?” — a song about the Holocaust that he sang in both Yiddish (in which he is fluent) and English.

“Back then, record companies did not want their artists to be too ethnic sounding. . . . But I never was ever hiding my Jewish identity. I knew that many of our fans would have bought our records whether they knew we were Jews or not.” —Jay Black

Listen to Jay Black sing “Where is the Village?” (“Vi iz dus Geseleh?”) in English and Yiddish:

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