Award-winning singer-songwriter Amy Sky is set to release her debut Hebrew-language album, Twilight Rose, this May.
A prolific and multi-talented artist, Sky has written songs for herself and for dozens of other international recording stars, including Olivia Newton-John, Anne Murray, Reba McEntire, Diana Ross, Belinda Carlisle, and the rock band Heart.
Sky’s powerful lyrics resonate globally, celebrating life’s victories and challenges.
She will perform material from Twilight Rose, sing her beloved hits and share insights and stories from her own spiritual journey at Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto on May 19 at 8 p.m.
The concert, “Sky in the City: An Urban Jewish Concert Experience,” is free and open to the public.
“When you hear my English-language music, percolating in the background are my Jewish roots and the community that I grew up in. When you grow up in a Jewish family, ideas of justice, brotherhood, sisterhood, community and unconditional love are part of a cultural context, so these kinds of themes came out in my music,” Sky said.
Sky was inspired to create Twilight Rose in memory of her late mother, Sandy Shiner, who lived and breathed music.
“In addition to being a great mother, my mother was a hugely creative woman. She was a professor of creativity and a writer. I grew up steeped in the love of music and was never, ever, told to stop making noise. In her wisdom as a teacher of creativity, my mother knew that the secret to creativity was to let people make noise and a mess, and that’s the environment I grew up in,” Sky recalled.
Sky studied classical music from the age of four, and discovered her own singing voice when she was preparing for her bat mitzvah. She began writing songs around that time.
For a confirmation project at Holy Blossom Temple when she was 16, influenced by the compositions of Debbie Friedman, a singer-songwriter of Jewish religious music, Sky set a number of Hebrew prayers to music, with the intention to one day return to her roots and create more original melodies for the spiritual texts.
“Twilight Rose was my way of honouring my Jewish tradition, and also staying connected to my mom, because her Jewish life was so very important to her,” Sky said.
The CD’s songs include: Mi Shebeirach, Shalom Aleichem, Shalom Om, V’Shamru, Y’Did Nefesh and Sh’Ma/Barchu. Sky sings, plays the piano and harmonium, and composed or co-wrote eight of the 11 songs, drawing inspiration for the Hebrew text largely from the prayers of Kabbalat Shabbat.
“Prayers serve a lot of different purposes, and I just pulled the ones that felt good coming out of my mouth, that felt like they were expressing something I wanted to sing about,” she said.
Sky’s rendition of the Kaddish is the emotional centrepiece of the record. Lecha Dodi is about the Sabbath bride.
“Mi Shebeirach holds a lot of meaning for me: it was about asking God to send healing energy down to earth when my mother was dying. That kind of prayer, asking God for healing, exists in every wisdom tradition, so it’s very universal,” Sky added.
The title of the album, Twilight Rose, derives from the song Erev Shel Shoshanim, which means Evening of Roses.
“It’s a very well-known love song. It works on the musical level and has a beautiful text,” Sky said.
Twilight Rose is “a fusion of east-meets-west influences, infused with rock and gospel. Sitar, dilruba, pennywhistle and harmonium, blend with a soft rock rhythm section and shimmering stacks of vocals to create an evocative soundscape,” a promotional website for the album says.
Some 600 people are expected to attend the Sky in the City concert, sponsored by the Strom family, who are members of the congregation.
“We are excited to have Amy perform. She is a creative artist exploring different musical directions with regard to spiritual life. Her music is extremely beautiful and moving, and it’s also thought-provoking. It will be a splendid event!” said Temple Sinai Cantor Charles Osborne.
Twilight Rose will be available for purchase at the concert and on iTunes in early May.
For more information about the concert, call 416-487-4161 or email [email protected].