"It was appropriate that I be introduced to this music in the mountains of Northern New Mexico at the same time that some of the local Hispanic population were becoming aware of their Jewish heritage, as was I, having been raised Catholic in South America and Europe. My friend and then New Mexico State Historian, Stan Hordes, had started his research on the subject and later invited me to sing some of these songs at a lecture he gave in Taos.
"As Stan explained, some of the Sephardim, the Spanish Jewish families who had escaped the Inquisition and sailed to Mexico in the early 1500s had found the Inquisition again pursuing them as it reached its height in Mexico in 1596. It was natural that a number of these families should decide to journey to the north to "Nuevo Mexico" in search of safety and obscurity in this harsh, sparsely populated and isolated land where they established villages, mixed with the Catholic settlers and slowly left behind, at least outwardly, their ancient Jewish customs, although to this day evidence can be found in the form of a common toy for Northern New Mexican children, a spinning top exactly resembling the "dreidle", the uniquely Jewish spinning top, the Stars of David which adorn some tombstones, memories of Friday candle-lighting and the particular Spanish spoken in the area with its connection to Ladino, the ancient Spanish of the Sephardim.
"In the 1980s a Jewish "Havurah" had formed in Taos, New Mexico, with members from surrounding villages and Rabbi Chava Carp approached me with some ancient Jewish spiritual songs to sing at services. The songs were in a language that resembled Spanish and she knew I sang in Spanish. The language was Ladino and, as I started learning and singing these songs, something deep stirred inside me and in those who heard the songs. This was a powerful spiritual energy, hidden for centuries, yearning for expression.
"I feel honored to have been given the gift of this music and the exciting task of taking it out into the world in a contemporary form, as I learn more about the mystical traditions of the Sephardim, my ancestral people, who struggled, hidden, for centuries, to preserve their heritage. This music reflects the power of their spiritual and cultural destiny and has reawakened a part of my spirit that had been longing to express itself."