Yasmin Levy, the acclaimed Ladino singer was born in Jerusalem, Israel, in 1975.
Her first album Romance And Yasmin focused on Ladino music and Turkish influences and was greatly influenced by the work of her late father Yitzhak Levy who devoted himself to the collection and preservation of the songs of Sephardic Jews. In Yasmin’s moving interpretation of this musical tradition, his legacy is preserved and revived.
For her second album, the highly acclaimed La Juderia, Yasmin continued her work within the Ladino tradition but began to experiment more with the flamenco influences that she had explored while living in Seville in 2002. Yasmin found a way to integrate seamlessly the flamenco singing style with her own Ladino tradition.
With her third album Mano Suave released in October 2007, Yasmin returned to her Ladino roots. Recorded in London’s Livingston Studios in February 2007, the album was co-produced by Lucy Duran and Jerry Boys. The album featured extraordinary musicians from Iran, Armenia, Greece, Paraguay, Israel, Turkey and Spain. Mano Suave also featured a very moving duet with guest vocalist Natacha Atlas on the title track, a Bedouin song in which Natacha’s Arabic interwove stunningly with Yasmin’s Spanish vocals.
Yasmin’s fourth and most recent album Sentir was released in October 2009. With it Yasmin honed a musical vision that integrates effortlessly all of her previous musical preoccupations with fresh, new directions. With Sentir, Yasmin’s music truly became ’of the world’, in the best sense of that phrase. Sentir draws songs not only from Ladino and flamenco traditions but also contemporary material by Javier Limon – the album’s acclaimed producer, as well as Yasmin and Leonard Cohen. Sentir was voted one of the top 100 albums of 2009 by The Sunday Times and was one of only 10 world music albums included.
With the same passion and intuition with which Yasmin mixes musical traditions, she advocates for cross-cultural communication in her role as Goodwill Ambassador to the charity Children of Peace a UK-based charity fighting to alleviate the plight of all children caught up in the decades-old Middle East crisis. In March 2006, Yasmin was presented with the Anna Lindh Award for promoting cross-cultural dialogue, for her work with musicians covering three cultures and her connection with the history of Spain. In 2008, she won the USA Songwriting Competition in the category Best Song (World) for her composition “Me Voy” (“I’m Leaving”).
Yasmin has toured all over the world, bringing a stunning voice, beautiful songs and her wonderful sense of humor, to countries as diverse as Turkey, Australia, USA, Sweden, Holland, Israel, Spain, Canada, Korea, France, Germany, Mexico, and many more. She has thrice been nominated for BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards and was nominated in 2008 for Holland’s prestigious Edison Award, the Dutch equivalent of the Grammys, in the category Best World Music Album.
For those new to the music and its language and history, Ladino is the collective term for the Judeo-Spanish languages spoken by the Jews of Spain: these languages infuse the original ancient Spanish with other languages including Arabic, Turkish, Greek, Slavic languages, Portuguese, French, Italian and Hebrew. The geographical spread of communities in North Africa, Turkey, Greece and the Balkans, each with distinct dialects and religious customs, is reflected in the musical variety of Judeo-Spanish folk songs carried down to the present day. UNESCO has recognised Ladino as one of the world’s endangered languages as they estimate there are fewer than 200,000 Ladino speakers world-wide.
Romance And Yasmin, 2002
La Juderia, 2004
Mano Suave, 2007
Yasmin’s discs are released through Harmonia Mundi/World Village throughout Europe, on 4Q Entertainment in North America, and on Adama Music through Hatav Hashmini in Israel.
Yasmin Levy Music Book – Piano/Vocal/Guitar, 2011