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September 1: Adrienne Cooper

September 1, 2013

Adrienne CooperAdrienne Cooper, co-founder with Henry Sapoznik of Klezkamp, the annual week-long celebration of Yiddish music and culture, and an international diva of the klezmer revival, was born in Oakland on this date in 1946. Cooper was a scholar as well as a highly original interpreter of the music and always enhanced her performances with rich historical and political, contextual material. A former assistant director of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York, a student of Yiddish composer Lazar Weiner and lyricist Wolf Younin, she was the long-time cultural director of the Workmen’s CIrcle/Arbeter Ring, and she played a special role in unearthing the role of women in the creation of Jewish culture. She herself co-created several groundbreaking modern works of Yiddish and English musical theater, including “The Memoir of Gluckl of Hameln (with Jenny Romaine and Frank London)”, “Ghetto Tango” (with Zalmen Mlotek), “Esn: Songs from the Kitchen” (with Lorin Sklamberg and Frank London), and “Shake My Heart Like a Copper Bell: On the Poetry of Anna Margolin” (with Cooper’s partner, Marilyn Lerner). Adrienne Cooper died of adrenal cancer at 65 in 2011. To see her singing in 2003, look below. To read some excerpts from her memorial service, click here.

“Vocalist Adrienne Cooper ranges deftly from quiet meditation to wide-eyed wonder, trilling and growling tales that link heaven to the tenement stoop with astonishing ease.” — Rolling Stone magazine