When you Google Elmore James the first hits that pop up refer to a blues singer from the 1940s. That is not the same Elmore James who stars in the National Yiddish Theatre — Folksbiene production of “Soul to Soul.” But Yiddish-singing James, 57, thinks the Southern bluesman would see similarities between what the two men do.
“Soul to Soul,” conceived and directed by Folksbiene artistic director Zalmen Mlotek, showcases Yiddish and African-American music sung by James as well as by Lisa Fishman and Tony Perry. Its next performance is April 4 at Queens College. Tickets are free, though reservations are required.
James grew up in Harlem and attended the prestigious High School of Performing Arts. He talked to The Arty Semite about getting into show business, performing in “Soul to Soul,” and learning to sing in Yiddish.
Curt Schleier: How did you become aware of Jewish music?