The Ordway is a classically beautiful place to see a show and Yasmin Levy is a passionate beauty with a classically trained voice: the two are a perfect fit. Levy is an Israeli singer who enchants the audience with songs in Spanish, Arabic, and the dying language Ladino. Her mission is to spread this language through her songs to aid in its survival. The artist explained at the concert that fewer than 150,000 people speak Ladino worldwide. With the help of Levy’s poignant singing, this language may be around a lot longer.
As Levy and her band took the stage, the vast theatre came alive with notes of yearning, desperation, hope, and love. Sadness and longing dominated most of the set, but resonated with an undeniable richness. Levy did a fusion of Judeo-Spanish and flamenco, calling it “Yasmin flamenco.” I was surprised when she took time to address those, primarily people who practice traditional flamenco, who do not like her fusion concept and have openly criticized it. She seemed intent on justifying her decision philosophically, instead of letting the music speak for itself.
Excluding that odd moment, the concert was amazing. Some of my favorite songs were “Mi Suegra,” “La Alegria,” “Una Ora,” and her new album’s title song “Mano Suave.” Levy’s voice shone during “Mano Suave,” a song she recorded with Egyptian sensation Natacha Atlas. No doubt the recording is doubly powerful, with a strong message of peace.
Levy is a vocal force with an undeniable stage presence. The audience loved her and a single note could bring tears to your eyes. Between songs, she talked about her life and her music. Levy’s concert was a musical experience I was glad to get swept up in.