Frankel, Judy

American. Singer. Sang primarily Ladino folk songs, preserving the music of Jews descended from the expulsion from Spain in 1492. Ladino is a language that’s a mixture of Hebrew and Spanish, which the Sephardic community has preserved over 500 years. Born Judith Bradbury on Aug. 12, 1942, Judy Frankel grew up in Boston and graduated Boston University in 1969. She worked for a while as an elementary school teacher, but moved to San Francisco and refocused her life work on music. Ms. Frankel lived on the West Coast, and performed in elderly housing settings and other Jewish venues. She sang with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus for 10 years. She was a soloist in the San Francisco Consort, an early music group she helped to form around 1980. She learned many of her Ladino songs from residents and from research traveling to Europe, which she dubbed “harvesting” songs. She always credited her musical informants when performing songs. She sang the songs in the style the Sephardi women who taught her, which was mostly Western tempered intervals, rarely if ever in the old maqam (Middle Eastern scales) style. While Frankel was of Ashkenazi heritage, she adopted a committment to Separdic culture. She released four CDs of Ladino music, She also published a songbook, Sephardic Songs in Judeo-Spanish and her music is heard in the documentary Trees Cry for Rain: A Sephardic Journey. She gave numerous concert in the US and abroad. “I sing what I love,” she was quoted in The Los Angeles Times in 1998, “and I happen to love this.” Judy Frankel’s webpage includes a brief biography, discography, reviews and a catalog of her recordings. Real Audio samples are available. She died March 20, 2008 in San Francisco. She had no children. The Jewish Women’s Archive has a nice tribute piece to Judy Frankel written by musicologist Dr. Judith R. Cohen