Calling someone her country's greatest singer would be a huge compliment to most performers. In the case of Khave Alberstein, however, it only tells a small part of the story. Alberstein is undoubtedly Israel's most accomplished singer
Alberstein is Israel; her development as an artist mirrors Israel's development as a country; her growing pains are Israel's growing pains. Alberstein and Israel are even the same age - both turn 50 - and they both share a tiny but powerful stature. But Khave Alberstein sees herself as much as a singer of the world as just a singer of her beloved Israel. "Even though I have lived in Israel nearly my entire life, I am constantly questioning my place in the world," said Alberstein. "Maybe this searching comes from being an artist, maybe it comes from being a Jew. I'm not really sure." This bittersweet tension between the national and the universal is most evident in all of her recordings. From tender love songs to defiant songs about peace and oppression. There are prayerful songs celebrating the beauty of the human form and more melancholy songs about loss, poverty, and solitude.
Alberstein released "The Well" , an album of Yiddish poems she has transformed into folk songs, with the renowned klezmer group the Klezmatics. "In Israel, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone today composing and singing in Yiddish," said Klezmatics lead singer Lorin Sklamberg. "Some people still see Yiddish as the language of soft Jews who can't protect themselves.
But Khave understands the joy and depth of the language." Yiddish was the mother-tongue of Alberstein's family in the small town in Szczecin, Poland, where Khave was born. Her family moved to Israel when Alberstein was only 4-years-old, but Khave says she has never totally lost the feeling of being a stranger. "No matter where I am, even if it's in my own country, I feel like a bit of a guest," she said. "People can appreciate this today, because they move around so much. Every country you go to in the world is filled with so -called foreigners." Since the very first time she ever sang in public - a four-song set, which included songs in French, Spanish, Yiddish, and a gospel standard in English - Khave Alberstein has been a performer of "World Music."
* Aviv Productions Inc.