It doesn’t feel right to me to start my story with “I was born in New York City……….” because I feel that my story started long before that, even if I am unable to recall it. My parents were holocaust survivors. My mother was from Poland. She spent four years in ghettos and concentration camps and her entire family was killed. My father came from Germany. He was sixteen when the war started and he spent the following years fleeing from the Nazis. He escaped to the USA, stayed there for one year, then returned to Europe as an American soldier for the last year of the war. My parents met in New York City, after the war.
By the time I was nine we had moved six times. I lived in four different states in the USA and spent a year in Europe. We finally settled down in Phoenix, Arizona.
At seventeen I picked up the guitar and began to ask people to teach me songs. I never took a guitar lesson. I had learned a bit of piano as a child, but I wanted to be able to accompany myself as a singer. I was influenced by the folk singers of my time – mainly Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. A vivid memory remains with me of buying Joni Mitchell’ s “Blue” album, putting it on the record player and not leaving my room (except for dire emergencies) until I had had it completely memorized.
I left home for university in Northern Arizona, in a college town called Flagstaff, where I studied Biology because I loved nature. I also took as many art classes as I could. It never occurred to me to study music, as the two years of piano lessons as a child were about as much “formal training” as I could stand. I certainly didn’t want to be a classically trained singer and I trusted my ear and stayed in the realm of the folk music I loved. During my four years in Flagstaff I performed in bars and restaurants, alone and with others, and generally had a great time. During my last year of college my direction changed--Or maybe I just hadn’t had one yet.
I met some people who had spent time in Israel and they told me all about it. It seemed to me that some time spent there might answer some of the burning questions that I was dealing with as a Jewish child of holocaust survivors. So after graduation, off I went for a year in Israel.
I never came “home”.
Re-reading what I wrote in my diary during the summer of 1979, it seems I have answered most of the questions I had at that time and achieved most of my goals. It took about 30 years. (link to page: In Germany)
At first I lived in Arad, in the Negev desert for six months, attending the WUJS program. Then up to the green(er) north, where I accepted the only job offer that came to me, as a laboratory assistant at Haifa University. During my six years in Haifa I met my husband, Desmond. There Naomi, the first of our three children was born.
A friend from work invited me to the “Jacob’s Ladder Folk Festival”
At the time “Jacob’s Ladder” was held in Kibbutz Machanayim. Although the festival has changed location several times over the last 35 years, it has never lost its wonderful character and I have performed there every year since.
At one of the music nights there, in 1983, in an old stone building serving as a folk club, I met Danny Sherban and David Ring, who joined me in the creation of the “White and Bluegrass” band, which lasted over 13 years and eventually brought our growing family to Moshav Yodfat, in Western Galilee. Edan and Mya were born there.
“White and Bluegrass” 1984
When Naomi reached school-age I decided to send her to the Waldorf School in Kibbutz Harduf. This led to my involvement in Waldorf Education and the completion of the Waldorf Teacher Training Seminar. Since 1992, I have been teaching English and Handcrafts in Waldorf Schools. When the first Arab Waldorf School was opened in the city of Shfaram in 2007, I joined them as the English teacher. Of course music plays a significant role in my English teaching as well.
Shfaram Waldorf School - musical accompaniment to Class 3 play
Along side my Waldorf Teaching, I became a student of the Anthroposophic-based singing method “Uncovering the Voice” which I studied with Giora Rafaeli from Harduf (giluyhakol.org )
In these lessons, for the first time, I experienced the connection between music – especially the human voice- and the spirit. I have carried these experiences with me ever since.
“Diane and Ada” were a dynamic duo, performing all over the country for ten years and producing three CDs.
“Mainly Dylan” was my band with Shay Tochner (guitar, banjo and harmonica) and Adam Mader (violin and mandolin); and as the name suggests, we did mostly Dylan covers.
One of the biggest joys in my life is playing music with my children.
My son, Edan, accompanies me with his warm tenor voice, on my Psalms CDs, And one never knows where I will spontaneously burst into song:
My dear mother, Ella Adler, passed from this world in October 2007. A few days before her death, I flew from Israel to Phoenix, carrying with me two very important items that were to change the direction of my music completely. One was my guitar.
I spent hours singing and playing to my mother before her death. It just seemed to be the only way to communicate with her as she was in a coma. I am sure that my singing reached her very deeply. She felt my presence and I felt her reacting to my music.
The second thing I brought with me was a book someone gave me called “The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning” by Maurice Lamm, which contained many of the Psalms that are traditionally recited for the sick and the dying. They had a profound influence on me and gave me great comfort during that time. I decided then, to put some of these verses to music. This was the beginning of my new musical path. I felt how strongly the music worked in places of grieving and pain, to open one’s heart and one’s connection with something higher; to move from the pain of the physical, to the spiritual realm.
From that time on, I have been writing vocal music to the verses of Psalms. I write in two, three or four part vocal harmonies or in rounds, so that these short verses can be sung over and over. The harmonies create a feeling of togetherness and “give wings” to the words, so that the deeper meaning of these verses can be revealed to each person individually.
In August 2009 I began a year-long project of recording my music. I produced “Like an Olive Tree” in cooperation with Eyal Luman, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and sound technician, in his studio in Yodfat (link to Studio Eyal Luman). In 2015
I recorded my second Psalms album "Kol Ma'ayani/Songs from the Source".
Today I lead choirs and workshops, teaching my songs, as well as performing them. I bring my music to groups of Arabs and Jews who are looking to communicate together in a new way and build trust and openness towards each other. I also sing for people in their last days of life. (link to activities page)