Orlando, FL (PressExposure) October 24, 2007 -- If people are lonely, ââ¦because they build walls instead of bridges,â singer-songwriter Beth Schafer must have friends on every street in America. Sheâs been steadily building bridges with her guitar and voice over the course of six albums, leading to her most accomplished work to date, the appropriately titled âBuild That Bridge.â
Beth is not your typical pop star. She plays lead guitar with her own band, writes her own songs, and has a voice somewhere between Bonnie Raitt and Sarah McLachlan. One of Schaferâs songs, âStill Small Voiceâ won on American Idol Underground. Oh, and she happens to be a groundbreaker in contemporary Jewish pop music.
What is âJewish pop musicâ? Some of Schaferâs early albums were sung entirely in Hebrew, but the minor-chord, âFiddler on the Roofâ sound wasnât what she was aiming for. âI started playing classical guitar when I was six,â Beth says, âI had exhausted my âfolk musicâ phase pretty early; by the time I was eleven I had my first Les Paul knockoff and got into jazz.â
What Schafer writes today is Jewish, message-oriented lyrics set to pop music. âIâm interested in letting Jewish music sound American, but still be Jewish music. I didnât expect that to be a problem, but some people come up and say, âThatâs Jewish? It sounds like rock.â
Over time, Schaferâs songs have grown simpler, more direct. She says, âIâve often tackled difficult subjects. Iâve tried to write in poetic ways about the not-so-nice things Iâve experienced. Through it all, Iâve become certain that what people are in need of is joy. Unapologetic, uncomplicated joy.â
Will audiences see âsimplicityâ as trite? Schafer says, âLove and joy should be simple. The first line of âLove Your Neighborâ explains it. âIt seems so perfectly simple, we make it so complex. What should come naturally to us leaves us unnaturally vexed.â Loving your neighbor seems really simple, but apparently we havenât gotten it right yet.â
The title âBuild That Bridgeâ is not just a song, but also an interfaith message. Schafer explains: âTo convince the world that religion is not the downfall of humanity, but is in fact the light of humanity, we need to examine what we believe and recognize the same principles in other religions. Dialogue becomes the bridge.â
What should be talked about? âBirth, death, marriage, family. These are the real issues we have in common. They expose the real humanity in religion.â
The closing song on âBuild That Bridge,â entitled âUnsung,â is really a rallying cry: âDonât let songs of praise go unsaid; Donât let bells of freedom go unrung; Donât let hearts of gold go unlead; Donât let songs of hope go unsung.â
Beth Schaferâs entire catalog is available on Amazon.com, iTunes and all major download services. For more about her work and career, visit her web site at http://www.bethschafer.com.