The history of Black-Jewish cultural interaction primarily focuses on how Jews adopted and adapted Black
vernacular music, ragtime, jazz, swing, R&;B and blues, etc, as performers, promoters, managers, club
owners and record labels. Join musicologist and performer Henry Sapoznik to explore the unknown African-
Americans who performed Yiddish and cantorial music in and for the Jewish community, in theaters on record,
radio and in concert including now forgotten Black cantors - Mendele der Shvartzer Khazn, Reb Dovid
Kalistrita, Abraham Ben Benjamin Franklin, Thomas LaRue Jones and Goldye di Shvartze Khaznte the first - and
only Black woman cantor. The talk will feature dozens of historic graphics and translations of period Yiddish
newspaper previews, ads, and reviews and the playing of the one known 1923 Yiddish and Hebrew recording
of Thomas Jones LaRue.
Henry Sapoznik is an award-winning producer, musicologist and performer, and writer in the fields of
traditional and popular Yiddish and American music and culture.
Sapoznik, a native Yiddish speaker and child of Holocaust survivors, grew up in an Orthodox home. In his teens,
Sapoznik was introduced to traditional American music and took up the banjo. He studied with North Carolina
masters Fred Cockerham and Tommy Jarrell during numerous trips to North Carolina with the late Ray Alden.
In 1972, Sapoznik co-founded the New York-area group The Delaware Water Gap String Band and confirmed
his reputation as a noted player in both southern playing styles and classic ragtime banjo. Sapoznik was the founding director of the sound archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York from 1982 to 1995. While there, Sapoznik founded and directed the internationally acclaimed KlezKamp: The Yiddish Folk Arts Program beginning in 1985 for the next 30 years.
A five-time Grammy-nominated producer/performer, Sapoznik has been on over fifty records including having
reissued over 30 anthologies of Yiddish, jazz, old-time, cantorial, ragtime, blues, Italian, swing, blackface
minstrelsy and bluegrass recordings. Sapoznik won a 2002 Peabody award for co-producing the 10-part NPR series “The Yiddish Radio Project.” drawn from his collection of over 10,000 items now part of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.
Sapoznik published two books: The Compleat Klezmer (1982) became the standard tune book of the klezmer
revival while his Klezmer! Jewish Music From Old World to Our World won the 2000 ASCAP Deems Taylor
Award for Excellence in Music History. Henry Sapoznik’s recent projects are his CD, Banjew (Jalopy Records, 2017) and the 3-CD reissue anthology Protobilly: The Minstrel and Tin Pan Alley DNA of Country Music 1892-2017 co-produced with Dick Spottswood and David Giovanonni (JSP 2019) which has been submitted for 2021 Grammy consideration.