The Song Diary
In addition to his success in the world of pop music, Michael is universally recognized as one of the most respected and adored creators of contemporary Jewish worship music.
Each month this space will highlight an original Jewish composition (and the occasional pop song!) and share behind the scenes interviews with the artist or cowriters, the Rabbi or Cantor who commissioned it, and get into the nitty gritty of the songwriting process. The Song Diary will focus on songs with a message, songs that have a truly unique story to tell, songs that are timely.
Feel free to scroll down...explore the behind the scenes videos, sheet music, mp3s...and if you feel like it, drop me a message!
Recorded and filmed live to my iPad. Just thought this raw version of Soloist Lisa Silver and I rehearsing, though imperfect, captures the feeling of the Holy Days.
The Music Videos
The 92Y produced 3 music videos for A New Year. Here they are...hope you enjoy! Wishing all who celebrate a healthy and happy and inspired New Year.
The Song Diary: "Silhouette" (July 13, 2021)
Honestly...there is nothing I can say to set up the latest entry of The Song Diary. Michael Leonardi is one of the most inspiring, courageous, and generous people walking on this planet. Somehow...we were able to write an uplifting song about Michael's falling in love while losing his vision to Retinitis Pigmentosa. Thank you, Michael for letting me be part of sharing your story and hopefully inspiring a few people along the way.
Here it is! The Song Diary is launching a new feature: The Composer And The Cantor.
I'm deeply honored to be joined by Cantor Yonah Kliger - a dear friend, colleague, and now, co-host of The Composer And The Cantor! Below, Yonah and I take a closer look at my latest version of Lecha Dodi - commissioned by East End Temple and Cantor Shira Ginsburg. Unlike the over 2000 other documented versions of Lecha Dodi, this one is in English...and it is not a translation of the original poem (written approximately 500 years ago by Shlomo Halevi). Instead, my research and study of the original text, and the history surrounding it, has inspired me to tell the story of Lecha Dodi. What were the Kabbalists of Safed thinking and feeling about Shabbat? What was it like to turn the fields of work and toil into a holy place to welcome the Sabbath come sunset on Friday?
Yonah and I hope you enjoy our conversation and would be happy to try to answer any questions that come up. Feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Suggestion: Try listening with your eyes closed. Then listen again and follow along with The Song Diary email as a handy reference and guide.
In this reimagining of Mi Chamochah, the song the Jewish people sang during the Exodus from Egypt, each verse focuses on modern forms of slavery...slavery to hatred, prejudice, the holding of grudges, and the walls that divide people and perpetuate stereotypes. Uptempo, with entirely original English lyrics, Freedom easily lends itself to be played by the most accomplished professionals or temple bands and musicians.
Only In Your Heart
Only In Your Heart - written one year ago today...after only 3 weeks of lockdown. I was beginning to feel a kind of isolation I had never known...and as a songwriter I'm actually used to being a bit cut off, late hours alone in my studio. The phone rang early in the morning on April 1, 2020 - a call from Berlin. My dear friend and co-writer, Martin Gallop, had been asked to write a song that spoke to the pandemic, the loneliness and the hope. We ended up writing this song, and it was chosen for a European wide campaign (the link on the right) to bring folks a sense of togetherness during these tough times. Honestly, writing this song was one of the most therapeutic and cathartic experiences of my life. Above: The version on the right was the original 45 second song written for the public service campaign. After 1.5 million views we decided to write a full length song - on the left.