Shakira Adds Dose of Klezmer to New CD

By Nathan Burstein

Published December 02, 2009, issue of December 11, 2009.
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South America’s biggest pop star is a fan of klezmer, if her latest CD is any indication.

Colombian singer Shakira, who has topped charts with her Spanish and English lyrics, samples the Jewish musical genre on her new album, “She Wolf,” which debuted at 15 on the Billboard album chart dated December 12 .

The 16-track CD — heavy on electro pop and dance music — dabbles in the sounds of the shtetl on “Long Time,” a seduction number that features a distinctive klezmer solo on clarinet.

Co-written by Pharrell Williams, a producer of past hits by Jay-Z, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, the track also features characteristically clunky lyrics by Shakira, a native Spanish speaker who has both charmed and annoyed critics with her occasionally choppy writing in English. “How can you do me so much good/I’m so happy I should get sued,” the song declares before the klezmer solo kicks in.

Of Lebanese-Christian descent on her father’s side, the 32-year-old singer was educated by nuns before achieving fame with songs and dance steps partly influenced by the Middle East. Known for belly dancing both onstage and in her music videos, the singer shared her signature moves with Beyonce in the 2007 hit “Beautiful Liar,” which reached the top 10 in dozens of countries. Her new CD has received mostly positive reviews, with Rolling Stone magazine praising the album as enjoyably “kooky” and “ridiculously catchy.”

Perhaps because of her background, in 2002 the singer became the victim of rumors that she had made anti-Israel statements to MTV. The network later rejected the allegations — as did the singer, in an interview with the Israeli youth magazine Ma’ariv L’Noar.


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