Love Is the Ground: Album Release & Queer Jewish Music Night
Thursday, Jun 29, 2023
Thursday, June 29, 2023
Live at the Weitzman Museum, Live on Zoom
7:00pm ET Doors | 7:30pm ET Concert Start
In Person Prices- Sliding Scale: $18/$36/$54 – $15 for Weitzman members
Zoom Prices- Sliding Scale: $9/$18/$36/$54
Celebrate the release of Rena Branson’s new album, Love Is the Ground, at The Weitzman’s finale event for Pride Month. Branson’s music seamlessly weaves together Hebrew liturgy, English poetry, and wordless nigunim (spiritual melodies). This 2-set concert includes featured songs from the album and original compositions by Branson’s West Philly-based queer Jewish musical collaborators, including Rachel Chang, Dr. Koach Baruch Frazier, Aly Halpert, Marques Hollie, Joni Leibovic and Marni Loffman; with additional accompaniment by Mel Hsu and Koof Ibi. The evening will be emceed by Rabbi Mónica Gomery. Attendees are welcome to move and sing along throughout the event. Come as you are!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if cost is prohibitive. Nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. Event photo by Jess Benjamin
More About the Album
Love Is the Ground is an album about cultivating a sense of home in the cosmos, in community, in our bodies; about hungrily pursuing transformation; and about resting in the present as we are, in our enoughness. It was made in collaboration with a team of Jewish/LGBTQIA+/BIPOC artists based primarily on Lenni Lenape land. The album tracks were recorded by Eric Sherman in his West Philly basement studio, by Eric Bogacz at Spice House Sound in Fishtown, and by many of the artists in their own homes. It was mixed and mastered by Don Godwin with cover art by Sol Yael Weiss. Full artist credits are on Bandcamp. Listen to the album on your favorite platform!
More About the Artists
Rena Branson (they/them) is a Jewish composer, ritual leader, and educator who uplifts personal and collective healing through song. They moved to Philadelphia to join the Rising Song Jewish Music Residency in 2019 and have served as the Cantorial Soloist at Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir for the past three years. Rena founded A Queer Nigun Project, which organizes singing events for LGBTQIA+ folks and offers spiritual support to people in the Jewish community who are incarcerated. Rena teaches and records traditional Hasidic melodies, writes music on commission, and offers powerful programming for a range of Jewish organizations. Learn more about Rena’s work by clicking here!
Rachel Chang (she/her) is a Jewish musician, songleader, and youth educator, as well as a music therapist, living in Philadelphia, PA. As a multi-instrumentalist, a deep listener, and a lover of harmony, Rachel uses music to cultivate connection and community. She has led music and prayer in a variety of communities, including at LUNAR, a collective and community of Asian Jews, and with children and families at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan, NY. She is also a co-director of A Queer Nigun Project, which uses nigunim as a collective healing practice for LGBTQIA+ people and incarcerated people in the Jewish community. As a queer and multiracial Chinese-American Jew, Rachel has spent years grappling with what it means to belong, to take up space, and to be heard in Jewish community, and she has found music to be an invaluable resource.
Koach Baruch (KB) Frazier, Au.D. is a transformer, heartbeat of movements, healer, musician, founder of the Black Trans Torah Club and co-founder of the Tzedek Lab, a network of practitioners working at the intersection of dismantling racism, antisemitism and white supremacy. A collaborative leader, rooted in tradition, curiosity and love, Koach strives to dismantle racism, actualize liberation and transform lives both sonically and spiritually. Koach lives and gardens with their wife, LaJuana and daughter, Aasha in Philadelphia on unceded Lenni-Lenape Land where he is a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
Mónica Gomery (she/her) is a rabbi and poet living on unceded Lenni Lenape land in Philadelphia. She serves as Rabbi and Music Director at Kol Tzedek Synagogue, a vibrant, multiracial and intergenerational community that sings from the depths of its communal heart. She is the author of two published collections of poetry, and her poems have appeared in journals and publications nationally and internationally. Mónica was ordained by the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in 2017; she teaches Talmud on the faculty of SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva; and she is a co-founder and past core team member of Let My People Sing! She is deeply grateful to have worked with incredible teams of people on these projects committed to cultural, political, and spiritual transformation. Learn more at www.monicagomerywriting.com, and www.kol-tzedek.org
Aly Halpert (she/her) is a queer Jewish musician, educator, and activist living on Lenni Lenape land in Philadelphia, PA, USA. A singer, pianist, drummer, and guitar player, Aly writes songs for building community, working for collective liberation, and visioning different worlds. Aly leads music and prayer for Jewish community, including Kol Tzedek Synagogue, Eden Village Camp, Let My People Sing, and Linke Fligl. Her songs have been sung in national gatherings, song circles, and quiet moments of personal prayer, and have moved people all over the world. Her first album, Nipple Confusion, has made fans of young people and adults alike. Her first full-band album Loosen was released in April 2022 with Rising Song Records. Whether her songs are serious or seriously goofy, Aly believes deeply in the power of music to awaken us to the loss and hope we carry, expand our sense of possibility, and connect us to each other and our collective strength. For more info, go to www.alyhalpert.com. Instagram: @alhalpal Website: alyhalpert.com
Marques Hollie (they/he) is a classically trained vocalist, ritual facilitator, and theatre maker, who has been telling stories for as long he can remember. Marques began his operatic career in the late aughts, and after a particularly meaningful Passover seder, initiated an artistic and spiritual exploration of their identities as a Queer, Black, and Jewish person. This exploration has revealed original music, niggunim, prose, and an original theatre piece exploring the themes of passover through music and the narratives of enslaved people called Go Down, Moshe. It also reinforced Marques’ fundamental belief that Jewish practice and ritual is an expansive container capable of holding all of our parts. Marques received maggidic ordination from Maggidah Devorah and Rabbi David Zaslow after completing a two year course of study, and is a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. In his spare time, Marques enjoys taking circus and aerial classes, playing dodgeball with Stonewall Sports, serving on the board of SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva, and dreaming about playing the Baker in Into The Woods. For more information about Marques and what they’re up to, check out: www.marqueshollie.com.
Koof Ibi is a multi-instrumentalist in the Philadelphia area. You can find him strolling down Broad Street with brass bands like The West Philadelphia Orchestra, or sharing the stage with rockstars like Japanese Breakfast for their hometown gigs. Koof has played every genre of music Philly has to offer and incorporates all of it into his own musical style. When he’s not playing music he’s filming and editing the Random Tea Sessions, a music video series highlighting other musicians in Philadelphia, or he’s behind the lens covering live shows for the WXPN.
At his solo shows Koof combines live instruments, loops, and guitar pedals to create surprising soundscapes, re-invented covers, and sonic liberation.
Joni Sidharta Leibovic (any/all pronouns) has been variously described as “a Swiss Army Knife of a musician”, “the Yiddish Thom Yorke”, and “a reckless bamboozler”. When they’re not teaching, writing, or playing music, they are probably cooking, fixing their bicycle, staying up past their bedtime, or looking at a cool bug. If you want to hear snippets of their anti-capitalist rock opera (or their children’s songs about math and science), check out https://ashesashesweallriseup.bandcamp.com/
Marni Loffman is a community-driven musician and educator exploring how to hold complexity and contradiction compassionately. Embodying a unique Jewish voice and beyond, Marni explores emotions on personal and collective levels through their music. Marni is a performer and group facilitator who has worked in a broad range of fields: as a homelessness street outreach specialist, a doula, a Jewish experiential educator and a ritual leader. They are committed to healing Jewish practices, building social-emotional awareness, inspiring paradoxical curiosity and cultivating creative expression. With an MA in Peacebuilding, and training in restorative/transformative justice practices, dialogue/mediation, and trauma healing, Marni’s music rawly navigates the complexities of life and takes contemporary spins on traditional prayer.
Mel Hsu (she/they) is a sonic painter of impossible worlds. As a multi-instrumentalist, Mel often ventures from her classical roots as a cellist into unexpected, cross-disciplinary collaborations. Rooted in Philadelphia, Mel’s restless spirit finds adventure across time zones and oceans as musical and administrative support for others who inspire her. Mel is a spreadsheet nerd, a slow reader, and a shameless instigator of kitchen dance parties. www.melaniehsu.com
Safety / Covid 19:
*This event will occur in the DELL THEATER.
*Masking in the museum is recommended.
Live at The Weitzman
101 South Independence Mall East (Corner of 5th & Market)
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Produced by the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in partnership with the Rising Song Institute.