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Yasmin Levy

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What you might call 'pan-mediterranean' music is often soaked in nostalgia. Its delicate weave of Arabic, Jewish and Christian influences seems to lament that golden age when the cultural arteries of the region were open and vibrant, and music flowed alongside science, religion and ideas like the tides and currents of the sea itself. Nowhere was the charm of that era felt more keenly than in the southern Spain of medieval times. It was there that the roots of Jewish Sephardic culture and the Ladino language were established.

After the explulsion of 1492, Jewish refugees took their language and their songs to the far corners of the Europe, and their music continued to evolve in ports and cities from Tlemcen to Thessaloniki and beyond. The eminient ethnomusicologist Yitzhak Levy was the internationally recognised authority on Ladino songs, which he collected avidly all his life, but it is his 28 year old daughter Yasmin who has managed to bring them alive.

For twelve years the classically trained Yasmin was the accompanist to her mother Kochava Levy, an accomplished singer in her own right. Mother and daughter left their home in Jerusalem to tour the world on a regular basis. Then one day, with the encouragement of her flamenco teacher, Yasmin began to sing. She has a voice that does strange things to audiences and critics alike. Normally phlegmatic hacks find themselves melting into rivulets of tears and effusive praise.

Sephardis the world over experience the electric pull of history and a renewed fascination with their Mediterranean and Ladino pasts. Some say that Yasmin Levy has saved the language itself from what might otherwise have been academic mummification or even outright extinction. Charlie Gillett wrote with characteristic eloquence that when Yasmin Levy stops singing, "I unwillingly open my eyes and face reality."

Levy has also provoked a minor revolution in the international Ladino song scene by ditching the folksified accompaniment of Spanish guitars and returning to 'original' instruments like the Arabic oud, violin, cello, percussion and piano. She also spices up her interpretation of the songs with oriental trills and slides, thus 'Arabicising' what was once stubbornly 'Europeanised'. This has stirred the blinkered ire of purists, but fans have found that their appetite for her music continues to grow exponentially. In short, they just can't get enough of her. Her two albums "La Juderia" and "Romance and Yasmin" encapsulate that magical mix of memory, nostalgia, tender beauty and hope, to perfection.

Ivan Chrysler (courtesy of fRoots)
Listen to the Yasmin Levy's concert from World Music Day 2004
Your Comments
Raymond Carroll Belfast
The words that come to my mind when I think of Her concert in Belfast are; enthralled, captivated, mesmerized and entranced. Her music is beautiful and romantic and her stage presence is something to behold.

Riga girl
even if her albums influence less, Yasmin's voice creates another world...when heard live, she opens up your soul

I have never felt so alive! listening to yasmin her voice sends me into middle earth. An you can say what you what about were the music comes from but no one can sing with that much soul with that much life and that passion an energy is rear to see. I can’t wait to see her live. Thank you yasmin

Miguel & nania ( Spain)
i heard something about this singer for nania, she opened my eyes, and of course my ears to listen this girl. in one word she is unbelievable!!!!

ali somali
what a voice she is awesome

Katrin Germany
simply unbearable...

Michael London
Her singing- contrary to what she claims- has no what so ever reference to traditional music of the Mediterranean... Nor Turkish, nor Moroccan, nor Greek nor Spanish... Yes, she has a GREAT voice but WHAT kind of a voice? The only reference i can understand is a kind of Opera-Pop... Shall we name her a Mediterranean singer only because she sings Sepharad songs?

Emily, London
Sexual healing. Hel-lo Yasmin!

Agata, Milano, Italia
This is wonderful. I have found this CD (La Juderia) here in Milan and I love every single piece on it. Thank you!

Alex, London
Just heard her on Later with Jools Holland. Will buy both albums as soon as possible. Incredible voice, charismatic performer, hypnotic and moving.

I was amazed on the emotions that flow out of her voice. It's really incredible. Dian

Rick Mallin Tampa, Fl.
Would love to hear the music of Yasmin Levy

wow... what a singer

Linda, USA
I think Yasmin Levy is a fresh, new talent who deserves to win the Newcomer category; what a beautiful voice!

Michael Songbird Seattle
listening to your music on KEXP, I was deeply swallowed by the purity and expression of your voice. The brilliant mix of musical instruments coupled with your voice took my breath away.

Hannah Smith
Saw Yasmin at WOMAD this year. To say that I was blown away would be to belittle the experience. Transfixed. Absorbed and gone...... beautiful....

Enrique , Uruguay
Very nice voice and melody. Now, listen, guys, that's plain modern Spanish!! I was hoping to listen to true Ladino, which is similar to Medieval Spanish.

MS, Exeter
She incredible, inspirational, soul - words fail! MS

Clive, London
I have both her albums. I particularly love "La Juderia". What a superb artiste, & a good songwriter, too. She wrote a number of the songs on La Juderia. The mix of Ladino, flamenco & mid-eastern flavours works great.

Rabbi Josef Antebi
With Gds help, Dear ma'am I'm Asfardi Man and speak Ladino And want to divelop it, do you eave some advice?

Charlie, London
How refreshing to hear so much passion and freedom in a voice alongside control and professionalism...Clem, in response to your question, La Juderia will be available in the UK from May 16th. That's one for my birthday list for sure!! Enjoy listening, guys...I can't wait to buy both the albums myself :) Go Yasmin!!

Hagit Mendrowski/ Israel
Yasmin is a rare woman singer with a divine voice! I baught her 2 CDs which are moving & touching in a unique way... Thank you!

Mazliah, Haifa
A great and authentic singer. Medieval Spanish, Ottoman style, Judaic spirit in one extraordinary voice. Turning a fascinating past into present.

Terry B Yorkshire
Just got both albums - inspirational singer!

el hombreorquesta - Barcelona
I heard her playing with her band Amanecer in "Barcelona Fòrum de les Cultures" and it was amazing. The return of a culture we refused 500 years ago.

Fadl Mahmoud
Surreal experience listening to Yasmin.I am rushing to buy her album wherever it is

gueora england
great singer.........tears joy to know her

Tzevi, NY
when is Yasimin's next concert in london? Thanks B

Peter, Yorkshire
Outstanding voice, I am glad that radio 4 has lead me to this wonderful singer and an unknown history of music.

Sean from Ireland
Like others I caught just a few seconds of Yasmin on Late Junction and spent too long trying to find out more. For me its pure emotion from the soul and very much reminds me of ancient Sean Nos singing in Ireland. I love it - its fantastic.

roni cohen
this singer comes from the heart - of the world - Jerusalem and for the heart of all souls- yasmin kol hakavod
very good singer

moonglough in the catskill mts. ny.usa

wonderful amazing

Mehdy from Germany
When I have heard her voice it seems that I hear my inner voice, which one would like, revealing it in the words and ton but cannot. Something from deep of soul.

majid from iran
she was so nice and has so lovely voice. a wonderful voice that all of her music was came places in my heart.att all she is so good singer

Ali - Toronto
It's perfect. Magical. Sound of God.

The best !!!

ile yugas washington dc
Great is not good enough or strong enough word to describe her voice and personality. When she sings she is bigger than life.

Rob, Miyazaki, Japan
Well if La Jude Ria is anything to go by, and I only listened to it on my computer speakers, then ... I dunno, I'm totally astonished! Hang on, I've gotta listen again!

GREAT singer !!!

sharon saguy
she is the best!!!!!!!!!!!!

babak Cyprus
Unbelievable, smooth voice, can take everybody far in dreams!!!

Ilan zizi
Better than Madonna !!!

she has a pure celestial voice her album is a rare spiritual experience. her tyle remind me the stuff Ofra Haza use to kake

Clem Northumberland
I love Yasmin Levy’s music. She is Amazing. I first heard her music on late junction – thanks what a great programme. I know her cd romance and yasmin is available in the UK. Does anyone know if la juderia is also out here?

one of the most thrilling singers in our era

Haya, London
heard her live two years ago and ever since waiting to her next London performance. great singer.

michal, Israel
You make me cry when you’re singing

Amoroccan, USA
Wow! Simply amazing. What a great voice, expressing so much emotion. I can't wait to see her performing here in the US.

Esther Morgenstern Israel
great singer with a great singing future

inspirational singer

1 of the best

Tamara, Israel
Sounds great. I wish you the best of luck!!!

Gil Tubul
What a singer. Thank God (and Yasmin) for sharing with us her voice and music. No matter what you like - you will love her music.

Nadja - London
I just love Yasmin's songs, remind me of my childhood!

Monica - Bucharest
Great voice! Great songs! We love you , Yasmin!

judy Silver, Oxford
One of the most inspirational singers/artists I have ever heard

eli matityahu- israel
one of the best singer in Israel ! eli mati

aviv nirgil israel
a great future

Udi, Jerusalem
Yasmin puts her pure soul into her magnificent singing! Her voice makes me grateful!!!

Great, great singer! Very emotional and yet very concenrate. That's called Professional.

Arik London

What a sight for the eyes and sound for the ears...!

Sizen Yiacoup, London
Hearing Yasmin perform live is an addictive experience. I eagerly await her next visit to London!

she's awesome

what a voice !!!! check the album "La Juderia"

simply GREAT singer !!!

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