Artist: David Sasso
Hometown: Hamden, Connecticut
Song: “Lecha Dodi”
Album: Sasson v’Simcha: Selections from a Bluegrass Erev Shabbat
Release Date: June 9, 2023
In Their Words: “Here’s a straight-ahead bluegrass setting of a 16th-century Hebrew poem that’s central to the Friday night Jewish liturgy. I’m a classically-trained composer who grew up in Bill Monroe’s stomping grounds of Indiana, but found bluegrass in Connecticut, where I work by day as a psychiatrist.
“Over the pandemic, I wrote original bluegrass songs to the traditional Hebrew prayers of the Friday evening Sabbath service. I recorded seven of the songs in February along with members of the Boston-based Jewish bluegrass band, Jacob’s Ladder, and premiered them live at my father’s retirement as rabbi in Indianapolis. My parents are both rabbis, and these texts have always been close to my heart. The title of the album, Sasson v’Simcha, is Hebrew for Joy and Delight.
“This song, ‘Lecha Dodi,’ (the ‘ch’ pronounced like in Bach) is the high point of the service known as Kabbalat Shabbat, a collection of Psalms and poems that get us in the spiritual mood to welcome the Sabbath. The chorus translates to ‘Come, my beloved, to greet the Bride; let us welcome the Sabbath presence.’ Bluegrass can often feel like a transformative and prayerful experience, so I think the mash-up works … no knowledge of bluegrass or Hebrew required!” – David Sasso
Photo Credit: Sean Casini