I love music. I’ve been singing all my life. I belted out an elaborate rendition of “Old Macdonald” in my yellow bathing suit for the cable guy when I was 3 and sang on stage throughout adolescence and college. So much of my life has been set to music; every year a different show, a different song. It is how I built an inner confidence and poise. I have always felt that my voice was one of the things that brought me closest to God. A gift I was blessed with and never took for granted.
But marriage and careers and babies and more babies made it very hard to fit singing into my life.
I remember the first time I set foot in a temple for services. While it was a Reform congregation, the service and songs were primarily in Hebrew. Everything felt foreign to me. I knew that Judaism was calling to me but in that moment I couldn’t hear it. I felt lost, confused and disconnected. Read the rest of this entry →
Chanale Fellig is a mom of two, and a Jewish rock star. But a very specific kind of Jewish rock star. Chanale is Orthodox, and follows a law called kol isha, prohibiting men from hearing women sing. We’ll let her tell you more about that in her own words below.
But even though she only plays for 50% of the population, she has a huge following. She’s just come out with her fifth CD and her first music video, called Taking Over My Heart. We’re kind of fascinated by her and we bet you will be, too.
1. What inspired you to get into music?
Growing up with six girls, we spent a lot of time singing and dancing in our kitchen to all kinds of Jewish music. Back in the eighties, practically all the Jewish music was by male soloists or boys choirs. Then Ruti Navon, a superstar from Israel, became a Ba’alat Teshuva(converted to Orthodox Judaism) and began performing for all-female venues. The first time I saw her perform, I was absolutely amazed. I remember being mesmerized by the glamor, the passion and the confidence she had. And it was all in the realm of modesty! She wore a great big curly wig, sang with enthusiasm and made all these women so excited and happy. All of 10 years old, and I wanted in.
2. Why perform just for women and girls? Can you explain kol isha to our readers and why it’s meaningful to you?
In my opinion, singing for an audience of only women is the greatest experience a female singer can have. Women connect faster, emote deeper, and enjoy more thoroughly when they are in a room filled with only women. As a songwriter I write songs specifically with my female fans in mind so I can perform them completely focused on each and every woman and girl in the room. I don’t consider kol isha a restriction, but rather a privilege. My songs (“Perfect By Design”, “My Business”, “Her Home”) have always been custom-designed for women and I love this niche in Jewish music.
3. How did having kids change your music?
Having children has cracked my heart wide open and I am sure my fans will notice that in my latest album. My kids have taught me that life is precious and that motherhood is an all-encompassing experience that I cannot separate from my music. I sing from my heart, and my heart is filled to the brink with love for my children. So that’s what you’re gonna get from me right now.
4. Clearly you love your kids, but are there any annoying habits they’ve recently acquired that drive you nuts?
In the last few weeks, their new shtick is running out of bed, (holding hands), giggling like maniacs, like two partners in crime. I think they believe I will be less angry if they come out together, a united front, and although I can’t get enough of their cute faces, I honestly would like them to get into bed and STAY THERE!
5. On a purely superficial level, what are the advantages and disadvantages of wearing a sheitel (wig)? Are there no bad hair days?
As a girl my hair was always long and curly and had to be revived every morning or stuffed into a ponytail. My curly wig rests comfortably on a stand, and is not subjected to all the “dirty work” parenting consists of. (Really? Do I have to expand?) Most days, a wig is the answer to my prayers, instantly glamorizing my denim-skirts-and-hoodies look. As the official face of Milano wigs, I am working with them on customizing something super special for on-stage, when I need all the help I can get transforming from Mom to Star. So in my world, sheitels are a lifesaver.
6. Are you your daughters’ favorite singer? Or have they fallen to the way of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber?
My daughters are definitely fans of their mom’s music but I can’t say they haven’t been exposed to a little Taylor Swift on the side. I AM guilty of telling them she is Jewish, though…