‘Sonia / Disappear Fear’ at the Gordon Center
International performing artist and Pikesville-native Sonia Rutstein of Sonia Disappear Fear will perform on Thursday, November 7th at 7:30 pm at the Gordon Center in Owings Mills, Maryland. Having just released her 19th CD, By My Silence, in January 2019, Rutstein is very excited about her upcoming performance.
“I’ll be featuring songs from By My Silence,” began Rutstein, “and I’ll also be performing songs from as many past CDs as I can fit in. I have a full band plus a piano player, a violinist, and an oud player from Palestine. So, I have those guests and a mystery guest, as well.”
Rutstein’s latest CD was inspired by a recent 2018 trip. “A year ago, I was travelling from Germany into Poland. We were delayed by some serious Nazi rallies in Germany that day. September 1st was the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s march into Poland and that was an opportunity for supremacists to show their hatred. I thought it was important to show that I’m a wandering Jew in Germany, and I’ve been very loved and successful there. Germany totally welcomed me, and I think it’s important for me to speak out. Not only am I welcomed there to play but also two weeks later there was a rally against the supremacists. The supremacist rally had about 12,000 people but the rally against them had two million people in Germany. Overwhelmingly, there is a compassion for freedom and equality more so than for white-supremacy and hatred.”
Rutstein’s songs are a vivid celebration of the human spirit in all its infinite manifestations. Her music has a singular sound that makes labeling and categorizing a waste of time. A world-class composer and artist who writes in multiple genres and languages, Rutstein often addresses humanitarian causes. Her multiple awards include six GLAMAs including “Female Artist of the Year,” GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian American Anti-Defamation) Award for Best Album (previous recipient Elton John), and the Coin of Honor from a joint coalition of the US military for her humanitarian efforts.
“I am so grateful to my fans in the Baltimore area and the LGBT community, specifically for always supporting me and letting me be the voice they needed to hear.” Rutstein dropped some hints on her next upcoming works. “I’m always working on new songs. The main thing that I’m working on daily is my first novel. It’s an autobiography! The story of ‘disappear fear.’ So, I’m going through that 30-year history but as well as some of my own history and what was happening in the world. It’s the story of how far, and long, we’ve come.”
Queer As Folk
by Chris Wilson
A prolific folk performer SONiA has recorded multiple albums and frequently tours both in the U.S. and internationally. Earlier this year she toured through Germany to celebrate the release of her 19th CD entitled By My Silence.
She first began performing with her sister CiNDY (Cindy Frank) as “disappear fear,” releasing their first album in 1988. Other members later joined the band but eventually CiNDY gave up touring in favor of family life with her children. SONiA continues to use the recognizable name, and concept, “disappear fear.”
SONiA has always been concerned with social justice and has received numerous awards for her work in this area. Growing up in Baltimore, she became acutely aware of the disparity between the wealthy, powerful Washington elite and the disadvantaged citizens in their midst. Here she is, describing this eloquently in song.
While so much of her music work deals with calling out injustice, her latest release focuses upon her Jewish heritage and the rise of anti-Semitism. While I usually like to post videos of actual performances, this video of the song By My Silence (written by Ellen Bukstel and Nick Annis and inspired by the well know poem written by pastor Martin Niemöller) is particularly powerful and moving so I share it with you here:
Excerpt from Queer As Folk © by Folkworks
Small woman real great!
Sonia Rutsteins Album „By My Silence“
by Thomas Waldherr
At the big Pete Seeger tribute at "Americana im Pädagog," she showed what defines her, and why she is gaining more and more friends in this country [Germany], too. Sonia Rutstein is a great musician and a humble and unpretentious person. She is a team player and quite naturally blended into the big band of musicians. People like her are needed to successfully stage concerts like this.
Sonia sang on "Where Have All The Flowers Gone," "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and "We Shall Overcome," and performed solo on "Rainbow Race," with support from Cuppatea on "Wimoweh" and, accompanied by the whole ensemble, "Guantanamera." Naturally, she wanted to be there when the man with whom she sang together at Clearwater Festival, and who is a great role model to her as well, was being honored. Her dedication made you sense this. She naturally combines music with political commitment. And the human being is always at the center of it, not party politics.
Her current album "By My Silence" is an expression of that. The very first song shows how crazy this world is when political systems want to break people who have done something supposedly unrighteous. For example, the young Sunni Muslim Nudem Durak was sentenced to 19 1/2 years' imprisonment in Turkey for singing in Kurdish. "A Voice For Nudem Durak" doesn't need a lot of lyrics to denounce this madness and to call out to Nudem: "We will sing for you, your voice will be heard. We are one family, we are one world. "
Part of Sonia Rutstein's repertoire for quite a while now and finally on record is "By My Silence," a song inspired by the famous words of Martin Niemöller: "When the Nazis came for the Communists, I kept quiet; I was not a communist. When they imprisoned the Social Democrats, I kept quiet; I was not a social democrat. When they got the unionists, I kept quiet; I was not a trade unionist. When they came for me, there was no one left to protest." In her liner notes, she says about the song, which was written by Nick Annis and Ellen Bukstel, that it is an alarm clock: "It's time to wake up and resist!"
In addition to the protest songs on this album, she also deals intensively with her Jewish background. For example, she wrote “Light In You" as a Hanukkah song for the neighbor boy, sings the two Israeli folk songs "Eleh Chamda Libi" and "Oseh Shalom," and even "Hatikva," the Israeli national anthem.
And then there is the happy song "Wandering Jew." The song is the expression of a connection with Germany that has grown deep. A connection with the Germany, or those people in Germany, who know about the dark parts of the country's past and want to offer a home to both her as a Jewess, and to refugees in need. Her tours in Germany are getting longer and longer. That's no surprise, as she sings, "Welcome to the new land of the free, I'm a little Jew wandering in Germany, welcome to the new land of the free, I'm a little Jew wondering in Germany". Also herein is a tribute to Pete Seeger: "Seeger said this was a rainbow race, nobody here is out of place." For Sonia Rutstein, there is only one world and all people are one family. And so she sings with verve against "Othering".
That leaves two slow songs still to mention. One, “Hallelujah,” is a tribute by Sonia, cousin of songwriter pope Bob Dylan, to another great songwriter – Leonard Cohen. And at the very end of this beautiful album, she asks herself questions. Old questions, but ones that always return. Why am I a lesbian? Why why why? Even years after coming out, she's moved by that. And she lets us share in her worries and her doubts, goes out of cover, is unprotected. Just to then declare with great certainty, "It's okay that I am who I am." And that too makes this little, petite woman the great artist, singer-songwriter and the great human Sonia Rutstein!
Thursday, April 11, 2019
SONiA disappear fear - By My Silence
SONiA disappear fear
By My Silence
(A version of this review was published in the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.)
Sisters Sonia Rutstein and Cindy Frank founded disappear fear as a folk-rock band whose material included a focus on social justice issues. Now working as a solo artist, Rutstein tours and records as SONiA disappear fear.
By My Silence, Sonia’s latest album, was inspired by the growing waves of anti-Semitism that she has observed and encountered in recent years.
Perhaps the most powerful of Sonia’s original songs on the album is “Wandering Jew,” a joyous, anthemic song in which she asserts her Jewish identity, recalls that her own ancestors were refugees and finds common cause with contemporary refugees. Another is “A Voice for Nudem Durak,” a song of solidarity, sung in both Kurdish and English, with a Sunni Muslim woman who was sentenced to 19.5 years in prison because she sang publicly in Kurdish in Turkey.
A couple of songs mark Jewish holidays. She wrote “Light in You” for a young neighbour disappointed that there were no Chanukah songs included in his school’s holiday concert while “Ahavnu (We Have Loved)” is her setting of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook’s words for a Yom Kippur prayer.
Sonia also includes compelling versions of “By My Silence,” a song by Nick Annis and Ellen Bukstelbased on the famous Holocaust-era poem by Reverend Martin Niemoller, and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Also of note are her versions of Israeli folksongs “Elel Chamda Libi” and “Oseh Shalom,” sung in Hebrew, as is a stunningly beautiful version of “Hatikvah,” sung as a prayer-like meditation that reflects on the feelings of hope at the heart of the Israeli national anthem.
And in “Who I Am (say amen),” Sonia, a lesbian, seems to be in dialogues with her mother and with God about her sexuality. “Mom, is it OK if I am who I am,” she asks at the end of the first verse. She puts the question to God in the second verse along with a plea for God to say it’s OK. It is OK she concludes at the end of the song and says “Amen.”
Sonia and I chatted when we were both at the Folk Alliance International conference in Montreal in February. She told me that when she finished making this album on Friday, October 26, 2018, she then turned off her TV and all electronic devices for Shabbat. The next night, when she turned on the news, she learned of the massacre of 11 Jewish worshippers at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
As the songs on By My Silence show, SONiA disappear fear is a convincing and truly fearless artist.
Sonia Rutstein: Her songs touch heart and soul
Sonia Rutstein during her first concert in Bottrop - at the Kulturkirche. Photo: Joachim Kleine-Büning
American singer-songwriter Sonia Rutstein now performed in Bottrop's Kulturkirche. The cousin of Bob Dylan touched her audience.
Bottrop. American singer-songwriter Sonia Rutstein was guesting at Bottrop's cultural church. Her critical program was thought-provoking.
The American singer and guitarist Sonia Rutstein came to Bottrop for the first time on her tour of Germany - and shone at Kulturkirche Heilig Kreuz with catchy folk rhythms and lyrics that touched heart and soul.
Between accusation and irony
In her songs, she addressed topics such as working-class life or continuing injustice in the world. Discrimination against minorities or the personal relationship with God played a role in some titles, always given a twist by an ironic undertone or a questioning perspective.
Even though by the standards of Kulturkirche only relatively few guests had come to the appearance of the renowned artist, the musician managed to create a dense, sometimes even tense atmosphere and to play herself into her own musical world.
The cousin of Bob Dylan convinced mainly with her voice, which she used in different pitches. Rutstein herself set the pace with her feet, while she beat the guitar strings with her fingers and occasionally played a harmonica, making use of almost her whole body. But everything seemed harmonious and mature, even if some of the melodies sometimes recalled those of her famous cousin.
Songs like "Won't Let Go" she announced with the addition, "this is a song that I wrote for my father." The star, who often advocates for political minorities, introduced other songs by giving some personal history. Of course, major covers weren't missing either. Rutstein chose "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen and "Imagine" by John Lennon.
A special moment of the concert occured when the musician performed a song for the Kurdish artist Nudem Durak, who is currently in prison in Turkey for nineteen and a half years for singing Kurdish songs. "I hope many other groups will pick up this song and transport it to other languages."
Maybe there will be a reunion
The striking final line of the song "we are one family, we are one world" created a thoughtful mood with the audience. Enthusiastic applause was followed by an encore including blues elements, and the announcement that she was returning to Germany next year - and maybe even to play at Kulturkirche again.
(Translation of review in WAZ Bottrop, Tuesday, 5/9/19)
Sonia Rutstein on Friday at the PiPaPo
April 11, 2019 Author: red / Image: Lea Morales
Bensheim. Sonia Rutstein is once again a guest at the PiPaPo-Kellertheater during her tour of Germany. Her concert on Friday (12th) starts at 8 pm, doors open at 7 pm.
Sonia Rutstein, who according to the promoters is a cousin of Bob Dylan, is a singer-songwriter from Baltimore (USA) who has been thrilling audiences worldwide with her songs for more than 30 years. Of her songs in Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and English, Rutstein has sold over a million units.
The new CD "By My Silence" reflects the current worldwide shift towards the right and urges the listeners to raise their voices for a free world.
The announcement states, "The honesty of her songs touches the hearts and minds of people who all share the vision of a positive world. This voice, this guitar, captivating sound and wisdom in her songs, immediately capture the fans.” Red / Image: Lea Morales
Sonia Rutstein is coming to Oestrich
The American singer is in Oestrich for the fourth time, following the invitation of the Catholic Public Library and Idstein bookstore.
The singer and songwriter Sonia Rutstein is coming to Oestrich for the fourth time next week.
OESTRICH - (red). Sonia Rutstein has already been in Oestrich three times, and is stopping by the Oestrich-Winkel quarter of town again on Thursday April 4, as part of her yearly spring tour. The singer and guitarist from Baltimore, a cousin of Bob Dylan's, wants to inspire listeners once more with a mix of blues, rock and American folk. Her songs, most of which she wrote herself, aren't protest songs, they are meant to give courage to live your life. Rutstein, who also sings and plays famous cover songs, is a guest in Oestrich following the invitation of the Catholic Public Library and Idstein bookstore.
The concert starts at 8 PM in the vaulted cellar of the parish center at Rheinstraße 19 (enter via Zehnthofstraße). Doors open at 7.30 PM. Admission is free. Reservations via www.buchhandlung-idstein.de. Drinks and snacks will be available.
(translated from Wiesbadener Tagblatt)
Besigheim: Music School as Nucleus
American musician Sonia Rutstein has chosen Besigheim as her German hometown: For the sixth time, the singer and songwriter from Baltimore / Maryland will be playing in the wine village. Sonia Rutstein has a name in the American folk and blues scene. Here in Germany she loves performing in smaller clubs. On her list you will find mainly cabarets such as the Kulturgewächshaus in Birkenried or the "Eine-Welt-Haus" in Munich.
The Steinhaus too, or rather its Gewölbekeller in Besigheim for more than ten years now is among the musician's favorite places to play. She has been performing for more than 30 years, during which time she has released 20 albums. Her humanitarian way of thinking is heard. Their music is considered unique and so distinctive that the petite woman with Jewish roots is immediately recognizable by the sound of her voice and her style, whether she sings in Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic or English. She is the cousin of Bob Dylan and accompanies herself on guitar, piano and on the accordion.
John Pearse helped
Sonia Rutstein's songs send out messages of peace, tolerance and a human, social togetherness. And the American from Baltimore has power of ten giants. No wonder she was invited by British musician John Pearse, who met her in Los Angeles, to appear at the Musikmesse in Frankfurt. There, extraordinary musicians are put in the right light and have a huge audience. That was twelve years ago.
Because John Pearse, who wrote songs himself and built special instruments, was living in Besigheim back then, the American discovered the picturesque town two years later. Today she calls Besigheim her German adopted home and is familiar with many people here. Which is the way that Sonia meets people: friendly and open-minded, warm and collegial.
The music school in the Steinhaus is their nucleus in Besigheim. Here she greets young guitarists who meet her in the corridor. She has already given five concerts and wants to present her new CD live on Sunday, March 17th. Titled "By my silence", the disc is about outsiders of society and about the quuiet strength of changing social wrongs. A few love songs will be among them, she announces.
Many listeners appreciate the honesty found in her songs. With their broad spectrum, they touch people of different social and ethnic backgrounds. She reaches those who share her vision of a positive world and turns every tone and every sung word into an ambassador of her humanitarian spirit.
Info The concert of Sonia Rutstein will take place on Sunday, March 17th. It starts at 6 pm in the Gewölbekeller of the Musikschule im Steinhaus. Tickets are available at Bürger-Info in Besigheim town hall and in the music school.
(translated from SWP)