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Cantor
Temple Israel
Natick, Massachusetts
Age: 42
Nominated by: Himself
Song: “Ana B’choach,” Ken Richmond

As a cantor, I’ve been surprised at what a small percentage of my time is taken up with Jewish music. But my experiences and teachers of Jewish music are what drew me to be a cantor — moments like my synagogue choir joining with a gospel choir for a benefit concert, or playing klezmer music on the street while passersby danced.

It is a privilege to undertake all parts of being a cantor: to be able to daven — to lead a community in prayer — to teach and to learn, to be with people in good times and difficult ones. I see myself as a guardian of the great traditions of Jewish people, whether I’m passing on a Hasidic niggun, speaking Yiddish with my children or studying Torah. It is an honor, not only to be among those preserving the great music of our people, but also to be among those experimenting with new music to accompany old texts. — Ken Richmond

INFLUENCES: Hankus Netsky, the Klezmatics, Pete Seeger, Adrienne Cooper, Shlomo Carlebach, Cantors Charles Osborne, Lawrence Avery and Jackie Mendelson. Most of my music I create and perform with my lovely and talented wife, Rabbi Shira Shazeer, my partner and co-composer.

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