The Jerusalem Post weighs in on "Lipa"
Sent to the Jewish-Music mailing list by Michael Makiri:
The first haredi pop star, by Michal Lando, on July 3, 2008
The wisdom of crowds being what it is, the following comment came from Sam Weiss:
Great article, though it misses the mark in one key paragraph: "… in the past few years, Schmeltzer's albums have gained tremendous popularity within the Orthodox world—due in part to his innovations in fusing traditional hassidic music with contemporary music styles."
No: "fusing traditional hassidic music with contemporary music styles" is the least of it (every hassidic musician and his father have been doing that for a long long time.) Lipa's tremendous popularity rests on his tremendous talent and artistry, his rootedness in both traditional hassidic music and contemporary music styles, his bravado, his consummate showmanship, and his endless and shameless self-promotion. (Yeah, I like Lipa.) Of course, all of the above makes him very dangerous to the status quo, so opposition from the Haredi establishment is perfectly understandable. What I don't understand is why they've been asleep at the wheel until now and allowed him to progress as much as he has. I guess the answer lies in this very JPost article: As the man says, he's an inevitable force.
This paragraph is incorrect too.
"The ban on "The Big Event" was signed by 33 rabbis, haredi and non-haredi alike. It was the most significant ban of its kind and brought together rabbis who otherwise wouldn't be caught at the same table."
All of the Rabbis who signed that ban are haredi. Some are chassidic and some are not, and I suspect that that's what the reporter meant to convey.
Rachel Eisenberg then cuts to the actual performances:
What a great article about Lipa Shmeltzer! I have heard him perform live, several times, at a hotel in the Catskills. I find him to be very uplifting, and he injects spirituality into every performance. I believe his performances come from a higher level than just music for music's sake, and I am very disturbed by the critics who are trying to undermine him. I do believe, though, that for all his insistence that he will continue to do what he does regardless, that he was indeed scared off at least a little by the critics. In the last performance of his that I saw, this past Pesach, despite the crowd's continual yelling for him to peform "Abi Meleibt" (which puts Yiddish words to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"), he did not perform this song. It is a shame that he caved under the pressure.