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The Barry Sisters and Yiddish Swing, with Andy Muchin
The Barry Sisters and Yiddish Swing: How Clara and Minnie Bagelman personified and then outlasted Jewish music’s sunniest hybrid style, with Andy Muchin
Broadcaster and music writer Andy Muchin takes a deep dive into the career of The Barry Sisters and the musical mash-up they helped to popularize, Yiddish Swing. Claire and Merna Barry, born Clara and Minnie Bagelman in the Bronx, New York, were among the earliest and best-known Yiddish Swingsters with their lively renditions of Jewish music set to a jazzy beat. With their sweet, tight harmonies and consummate artistry, the sisters performed on radio and television, in nightclubs, and on concert stages for nearly 40 years, including as stars of a 1959 U.S. friendship tour of the Soviet Union. They recorded mostly Yiddish songs on numerous 78 rpm discs and LPs from the late 1930s to 1973, their style evolving with the times. Andy will explore the Barry Sisters’ brilliant careers during and after Yiddish Swing—and take a toe-tapping detour to listen to some of the best Yiddish Swing recordings from artists as diverse as klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras and bluesy singer/instrumentalist Slim Gaillard.
Andy Muchin has hosted the weekly “Sounds Jewish” radio show on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Radio-J.com since 2010. He has written about Jewish music for “The Forward” newspaper, “Moment” magazine, “J.-The Jewish News of Northern California,” and other publications.
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