The little-known history of music shared by black, Hispanic and Jewish communities is featured in a new show at the Contemporary Jewish Museum called “Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations.”
Opening today, the largely audio exhibit — in which visitors may access playlists and videos in the gallery — explores black-Jewish musical encounters in 20th-century America.
Examples of Johnny Mathis singing “Kol Nidre,” Cab Calloway speaking Yiddish, Aretha Franklin doing a 1960s take on “Swanee,” Lena Horne recordings and the Temptations singing from “Fiddler on the Roof” lead to a larger picture of the connection between black artists and Jewish and Yiddish music.
“We’ve created an engaging and fun nightclub environment where visitors can experience a particular moment in musical history — a time when African-Americans and Jews came together to explore, share, borrow and create new musical understandings of their cultures,” Museum Director Connie Wolf says.
The show was created by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, a group of people from the music industry and academia focused on exploring Jewish history through music that has been “loved and lost.”
A CD with the same title that accompanies the exhibit will be released Sept. 14, and a related concert called “Yiddish Favorites in Latin Tempo” is at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on Monday.
Additional events include Idelsohn Society co-founder David Katznelson and University of Southern California professor Josh Kun lecturing on the exhibit at the museum Dec. 7 in a talk about what they call “one of the richest and least understood cultural conversations of the postwar years.”
IF YOU GO
Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations
Where: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., San Francisco
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except closed Wednesdays; exhibit closes March 22
Tickets: $8 to $10
Contact: (415) 655-7800, www.thecjm.org
Note: “Mazeltov Mis Amigos” concert is 8 p.m. Monday at Yoshi’s, 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco