An Afternoon with Basya Schechter

Basya Schechter with her prized oud.

What an honor it was to have pan-ethnic musician, Basya Schechter, from Pharoah’s Daughter, come and speak to my ‘Mosaic of Jewish Music’ class last week.  In front of a packed room in Wilson Hall, Basya immediately set an intimate and casual tone by sitting cross legged on a desk, introducing and playing her beloved oud. From that moment on, we lucky souls were quick to realize that we had just embarked on a very personal journey with one of today’s most unique artists in the American Jewish music scene.

With a generosity of humor and grace, Basya shared her unique life story as she described her Hassidic origins and then her eventual embrace of the secular world. She spoke of her love of travel, (more precisely, hitch-hiking!), as a conduit for her own exploration of music from Africa, Turkey, Bulgaria, India, Israel and North America.  The songs she played for us from her CDs, sung in Yiddish, Aramaic, Ladino, Hebrew and English, were presented as tiny glimpses into her colorful vocal range, as well as her fascination for complex rhythms and lesser known non-western instruments.

– Professor Liane Alitowski

For more information on Basya, visit

To listen to an interview with Basya conducted on CKUT’s “Shtetl on the Shortwave” program, click here.


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