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An artist’s job is to continually escape the constraints of how others label their art and to redefine what they do, both for themselves and their audience. Gershon Veroba is an artist doing precisely that - expanding and building upon his role as the “musician’s musician” in the Jewish music world while bridging the divide between Jewish and secular music. On his latest album, Reach Out, Veroba takes his music to a new level of passion, spirituality and soulfulness, while retaining the elements that have made him a favorite of the Jewish community for years.Read More...
Born into a musical family, with his father a well-known cantor and his mother an opera singer, Gershon grew up with music everywhere in his home, a daily fact of life. And like millions in his generation, his musical epiphany came from the Beatles. He recounts, “I went to see A Hard Day’s Night and Help and then I just became hooked on music.” Gershon’s music sensibility was additionally formed by pop singers/crooners like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin as well singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor; artists whose influence allowed Gershon to flourish in a multitude of styles.
To break into music, Gershon first became a wedding musician. Even then, Gershon could feel something setting him apart from his peers. “I quickly recognized that my flavor was different, and my (secular) influences made my music come out differently than everyone else,” he remembers. After performing and recording as a featured artist for over a decade,Gershon got into parodies – mainstream popular songs with lyrics redone to incorporate Jewish themes - a staple of the Orthodox Jewish community.
It was with parodies that Gershon established himself as the consummate entertainer, winning a broad audience in process, first featured in the “Variations” album series, which reached 4 volumes, then with his own production, “Impressions,” selling even farther beyond the others. He explains, “I did over five albums in that style. It was a great exercise in learningwhat makes a hit song.. If I liked the song and the artist, thought it had a positive message and if I thought I could do it justice, then I’d cover it. I would shift their message to a more relevent purpose for the Jewish community.” These albums were wildly popular and, while he never encountered the artists whose music he covered, he later heard that legends like Paul Simon and Ringo Starr had heard and appreciated his versions of their music.
But even with the success he enjoyed, for Gershon, there was something missing. Even while working in parodies, Gershon’s dream was to return to writing and recording original material he could call his own – this time, to create music to bridgehis life and his loves; Judaism. and secular music. It was a style he pioneered years before and that people were now paying more attention to. And from that dream, Reach Out has been born.
As Gershon explains, “The album's not meant to represent any particular strand of Judaism; it is human and universal. It touches on our relationship to G-d, but it emphasizes our relationship to our fellow man. My concern is about how we as human beings treat each other and, ironically, that’s something that is not addressed in Jewish music as frequently as is our relationship with G-d, even though the former is recognized as more important by rabbinical authorities of all kinds.” Song selections include “Speechless” (co-written with superstar Avraham Fried), which addresses the very true emotional issue of G-d’s silence,and “Reach Out” speaks to the universal desire for purpose, connection and direction, while challenged with a seemingly uncaring world.
Self-produced by Gershon, and featuring him on keyboards, guitar and vocals, Reach Out is also the first to feature his band Takana (meaning “edict”) which, for Gershon, is a true joy. He explains, “These are guys that I’ve worked with over the years; I handpicked each and every one of them. They’re ace players, good collaboratorsand they pack a real wallop. They’re a big part of why the album is such a delight for me.” He continues, “I made my own choices of music and lyrics with composers I respect, plus I featured good friends as guests (including Yosi Piamenta, Sam Glaser and Israel's Reva L'Sheva) - what could be better?"
For Gershon Veroba, Reach Out is his time to deliver upon his goals; to expand his own sense of what is possible for both himself and his music. “I’m showing myself as a serious artist. No matter how religious anyone is, they honor mainstream musicians. They’re going to honor a guy who is of mainstream quality but serves his faith. I’m being serious, original and open with the fact that I am a Jewish American and at the same time, I’m communicating American life and global messages to all people, including Jewish purists.” With the obvious quality and dedication of Reach Out, Gershon Veroba can no longer be pigeonholed for anything other than what he is; an artist and musician of the first order.