Rick Recht didn’t get named one of Time Magazine’s “10 Stars of the New Jewish Music” without changing the status quo of song in a significant and meaningful way.
Considered one of the founders of modern Jewish music, Recht spent years touring with mainstream bands including Vertical Horizon and the Guess Who before devoting himself exclusively to Jewish music in 1999. With 10 top-selling Jewish albums, including his latest hit album, “Halleluyah, “the St. Louis-based musician has made a name for himself by delivering hip melodies, positive Hebrew songs, rock rhythms and heightened energy at thousands of concerts and performances in the United States and abroad.
The appeal of Recht’s songs is far-reaching and can be attributed to his penchant for singable melodies and memorable hooks, as well as his determination to educate audiences about Judaism by performing music that includes elements of pop, rock, and folk with lyrics sung in English and Hebrew.
The singer-songwriter also is the founder and executive director of Jewish Rock Radio, an online station broadcasting 24 hours a day that offers music, interviews with youth about how they engage in Jewish life and profiles of Jewish music celebrities. Additionally, Recht is the founder and executive director of Songleader Boot Camp, one of the top leadership training programs in the North America.
We caught up with Recht to ask a few questions before catching him on stage at the fourth annual Desert Gathering Jewish Music Fest on Sunday, Nov. 6.
Q: What makes Jewish music “sing” to a community? A: People love music, but what they love even more, is feeling like a community. Music creates that connection point, the melodic ignition! When their voices join together in song, the community rises together to a new plane and its pretty magic.
Do you feel that Jewish music can be both entertaining and educational? One of the most exciting aspects of Jewish music is how it’s such a powerful and effective vehicle for educating while entertaining. When I’m singing, I may be wearing my ‘rock-star suit,’ but underneath it all, I know that I’m an educator and this music is my vehicle. I know I have a mission and a responsibility to strengthen Jewish identity and engagement for youth, young adults and their families … and music is the ticket!
What are the biggest influences on your musical works? My wife and my children are my biggest influences in my music. They help me to hear my true, authentic voice and see things in a more curious and honest way. When I’m writing, I think about life from their perspective.
What’s your take on music and its ability to unify? Our memories and most profound experiences are often stuck to the music in our lives. The music brings our souls right back to those pivotal moments. Music is the common denominator that everyone gets. As a community, when we hear music, our souls are triggered and we ultimately feel a connection that is only possible when underscored by a melody we are all singing together.
What are you most looking forward to when you perform at the Desert Gathering Jewish Music Fest? For years, I’ve heard such wonderful things about the Desert Gathering. I’ve had awesome experiences in the Phoenix/Scottsdale Jewish community and I know this is going to be an extraordinary gathering of folks from far and wide. My dear friend, Todd Herzog, is such a mensch with an amazing passion and love for this sweet community, and I can’t wait for the interaction, energy, volume, connection we’re all going to make together!
Deborah Muller is the publicist for several Jewish organizations around the Valley, including the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, the Desert Gathering Jewish Music Fest and Beth Ami Temple. To learn more about Desert Gathering, visit desertgatheringaz.org.