About Me



Chanalesings is a blog about everything "Chanale". These days I am first a Mom, as well as a singer/songwriter navigating the Jewish music world.


My passions are music, motherhood, reading, laughing, and living an interesting and meaningful life. I'm NOT a photographer mom, my pictures are from my point and shoot and although I'd love to blow you away with stunning shots, I focus on the content more than the pictures.  My goal is to make you laugh, and share the journeys I take on this road to musical and momsical success. 
Forgive me but there will be some awful word-plays on the way... 

I am an Orthodox Jew and live in Brooklyn with my husband and 2 girls. I am always working on all kinds of random things, mostly music related. I record music for women only in our home studio and run a teenage music club during the week. It's a good life and I am truly blessed. 

Feel free to email me anytime to chanale@hotmail.com

And don't forget to check out my music! Cuz that's how you'll get straight into my heart;-)!!

The Back Story
I am not a big chatter by nature and I generally avoid starting conversations with strangers unless that stranger happens to be ticketing my car, standing on my foot on the train, or reaching for the last bag of apple cinnamon soy chips in the grocery store. In those cases I do find myself to be quite verbose and communicative (and considering my main diet staple is often not in stock, I believe rightfully so.) I do find myself however pouring my heart out to a Korean aesthetician once a week. With one enthusiastic “peek a kala” I am open like a book and sharing my deepest secrets with an 11$ an hour therapist who rewards my profound thoughts with an extra dollop of moisturizer and an extended hand massage. A few years ago while in middle of major cuticle surgery, I was taken aback when my Asian manicurist took the initiative to ask me in perfect New York English “Meess Annah, wat you like to do to be vewy heppy lady?” (For the record, they do speak English and the whole foreign language act is a ploy intended to get unsuspecting women to supply dinner table fodder for Korean families around the country.)
 “I sing.” I replied hesitantly.
“Ahhh, een shawa? Ahhh, ok, mees, I undahstand, me too seeng in shawa!” she replied enthusiastically as she motioned me to dip my fingers into a bowl of lukewarm water filled with marbles.
“Well, I sing a lot” I elaborated. “I sing with a guitar, on a stage, for many, many ladies.” I tilted my head towards the other women sitting around me. “I sing for Jewish ladies! I am going to be a superstar!” I embellished eagerly.
“Ahh, ok ok, I see. You Jewish lady supah-stah…” she said as she sprayed astringent on my fingers and wrapped them with a warm towelette.
She shook the nail polish bottle vigorously and paused before opening it. She looked at me curiously and with a glint in her eye, this goyah laughed while correcting herself.
“No no, you not supah-stah mees…”
Oh well, so much for my attempt at fame, I thought.
“You, mees, you ah Koshah-stah!”

‘I don’t need a license, I don’t need a degree, cuz I’m in the business…’

I left the salon with my nails glistening and my mind racing. What an awesome concept: Kosher-star. What is a Kosher-star? One of the definitions of Kosher in the dictionary is “proper and legitimate” while the word “star” apart from being “a celestial body of hot gases that radiates energy derived from thermonuclear reactions in the interior” also means “a performer who receives prominent billing”.  What does it mean to be a Kosher-Star? Was I “a proper and legitimate” Jewish performer? What are the criteria to be a Jewish female singer these days, I asked myself, and even more so, what are the additional responsibilities I have as a Lubavitcher singer? 

I would be nice to say that I was a born performer and spent most of my childhood performing into a hairbrush but the truth is we were 4 girls and there was rarely a hairbrush available. There is a picture of me playing piano in my grandmother’s house when I was 5 years old but the piano disappeared shortly after the grandchildren grew big enough to start ‘hacking a kup’. My mother’s family is actually quite musical and I do remember my sisters and me spending many a-Sunday evenings dancing in our pajamas to Tzvil Vizemer and Zohar Boys Choir. My father’s family is a different story; a cousin of mine jokes that although they are very talented there are still two things that they cannot do at all: sing and run.  I suppose my talent comes from that side of the family because I cannot sing and run either. (Well not at the same time anyways.) At ten years old I took piano lessons eagerly and then just as eagerly exchanged them for guitar lessons that cost twice as much for half the time. I’d like to say I played until my fingers bled but the truth is I played until I could perform “Mary had a little lamb” and then gave it up. In summer camp I was involved in the camp productions and wrote a fair share of songs for color war alma maters and cantata. (By the way, I looked up the word cantata in the dictionary and it really does mean “camp choir put together in 72 hours and performed by overtired girls in glittery cumber bands”) Year after year I was chosen to play mother of the lead character on the production, a role that was created just so I could wear Rebbetzin Hecht’s old gowns and sing depressing songs about my child leaving home and never calling his mother. We all start somewhere.

  Bais Rivkah Montreal was where I honed my talent as an international singer and I sang a solo while my mother smiled from the audience although she didn’t understand one word of the production that was entirely in French. She claims that her daughter was a rising star and that it was well worth the $500 she spent on the trip from Miami to see me sing for 15 seconds. It was in my aunt’s house where I practiced piano. As the snow kept falling, I kept playing, oblivious to the din of 13 kids eating supper 8 feet away. I got better and they stopped throwing chicken bones and sang along. Although I was interested in music, I still considered music just a spare-time activity, and after graduation I went to seminary sans instrument. Chana Golda, if you’re reading this, thank you for shlepping your guitar to Israel so I didn’t have to. I studied little and played a lot and decided there in seminary what my purpose was in life: playing guitar on a widow sill in Eretz Yisroel. Ok, all jokes aside; that was about when I developed my first calluses and began practicing seriously. I loved playing and spent many hours doing so. It amazed me that I could make an instrument speak to me, that I could coax an otherwise ordinary piece of wood with 6 bronze strings to go on a journey with me, to a place where even the simplest songs are full of life and charm. And my guitar did indeed travel with me the following year, across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, where I used it as a (pardon the pun) instrumental tool in Shlichus for the first time. Pearl Krazniansky invited us S.I.T.s (Shluchos in Training) to sing at a woman’s gathering and although I hadn’t written any of my own songs yet, I reveled in the opportunity to share Jewish songs with women who otherwise did not have an outlet for Jewish music. I don’t remember what I sang, but I do remember the impact it had on the women to see a religious, Tznius girl singing in the language of their ancestors. I saw then how practically music could be integrated into education and made a commitment to use my musical know-how in the teaching field. A year later I was in a kindergarten classroom in Miami, pressing down chords to “Oh every morning, when I’m through sleeping.” while a dozen four year olds lined up to “strum the Morah’s guitar!” I wasn’t exactly breaking musical ground, but my students were stimulated and the parents found the enhanced curriculum exciting. 

A year later, while teaching first grade girls, I decided to broaden my musical horizons and stepped into a Sam Ash music store on Sunday afternoon with the intention to buy a harmonica. I was a bit taken aback at the prices (did you know there are harmonicas that cost up to $200?) and realized that although I was talented, it would be challenging play harmonica while I was singing.  Instead I walked around the store perusing through the guitar section until I noticed a special sale on a Takamine two track analog recorder. I was intrigued. Two and half hours later, credit approved, I was walking out the door with a new recorder, microphone, and credit card balance with more digits than my social security number. (Alright, that’s pushing it, but it was more than I could afford at the time.) I’ll never forget the sinister smile the sales woman gave me as she handed me my products and said “Welcome to the wonderful world of recording. Your wallet will never be the same.”

Three weeks later I cut my first album: a CD of myself singing the first few perakim of Parshas Beraishis with the taitch. There are mothers who still listen to it in their cars and tell me this is my best project to date.

‘It’s all my mother, so graceful and wise.’

For all those who have ever attempted to set up a home studio, you know the trials and tribulations of a recording artist. For those of you who don’t know the first thing about music preparation, you are probably unaware that the technical aspects of the recording process require an innovative mind and as much patience as building a full scale high rise building. Besides for the financial restrictions, recording is a complex operation and one minor change can bring the whole project toppling down. I have accidentally lost tracks that I have re-recorded 45 times over, I have deleted fully recorded songs with the press of a button, and I managed to break a very new and very expensive condenser microphone within moments of removing it from the box. Needless to say there were times when I was very frustrated and considered throwing in the towel. I distinctly remember yanking a Roland digital BR-8 recorder out of the wall mid-recording, and bringing it to my mother with the declaration that I had given up music and was going to write a book instead. She said “Chanale, nothing in life is easy. You’re a smart girl and I’m sure you can figure it out. Please don’t stop recording. I love your music and I want to hear more”. And just like that I pulled out my faithful Sam Ash card and purchased another recording device to connect to the ever growing pile of electrical cords that spiraled around my bedroom. My parents’ electricity bill went up 30% and I recorded my first album “Believer”.

‘For He can see a hidden part of me, into my essence, at my core, and though I’ve asked for health and happiness, Hashem knows I need more…

“Believer” was released without too much fanfare in the winter of 2002 and sold mainly at little shows I was giving at Bas Mitzvahs and Melava Malkas. I brought the CDs to a few Judaica stores to sell but without proper advertisements and promotions, sales were dismal and although I was a believer, I was disappointed. It seemed to me that without professional distribution and representation, my CDs would sit on the store shelves for years, looking forlorn and begging to be heard. I continued to work on miscellaneous music projects writing songs for other artists. I considered leaving the ‘recording’ out of ‘artist’ and just working behind the scenes. The music business didn’t seem to be a place for women. There was a limited market and unlike male singers, I couldn’t plaster posters with my headshot all over Boro Park.  Most Jewish singers struggle with sales. Producing a CD is expensive! A fully produced studio album costs tens of thousands of dollars. There are song writers, arrangers, musicians, recording engineers, and sound technicians to pay. Every hour in the studio costs more than most of us make a day. Add that to the graphic artist, duplication, and packaging fees plus advertising and distributors cut and your 1 project costs more than buying 4000 CDs from Judaica World!  Did you know that the biggest selling Jewish CD of all time sold a mere 80,000 copies? (I’d tell you who but it’s inside information. And no, it’s not Matisyahu.) 
So although concert offers were beginning to come in more regularly and I was taking more and more sick days from my 9-5, I had run into my first obstacle. As a songwriter, I didn’t feel comfortable singing other people’s songs yet the 8 songs I had were not enough material to cover an entire show. I also didn’t have enough money to go into a professional studio and cut an album over night. My biggest problem was that my makeshift studio just wasn’t producing the results I wanted and I suspected my career would be over before it even started. That was when I got a call from Izzy at Sameach Music.

“Chanale”, he said, “I hear you are popular with the girls. Let’s double your last CD production and put CDs in every Judaica store around the country.”
“I’d have to think about it” I said, “Can you hold on a second?” 
Mute cell phone. Yell on top of lungs. Breathe deeply. Unmute.
“Hello Izzy? Sounds great! I’d love that. (Stay calm, don’t say too much) Oh and by the way I’m already working on my next CD” (stop talking, stop talking). “It will be out in 6 months.” (Great, now look at what you’ve done.) 
Click.
I picked up the phone again.
“Hello? Sam Ash? This is Chanale and I’d like to raise my credit limit.”
Izzy’s call gave me the optimism and motivation I needed to start writing songs for “The Crown of Creation”. 

‘Oh oh when I grow up, no matter what life brings, Hashem will give me the strength I need to handle it…’

With my upgraded computer based studio installed and running, I was ready and eager to start working on my second album. My roommate was also ready and eager to find new living quarters but a simple pair of headphones solved that problem. (After a while she got used to sleeping in them.) Night after night, and every Sunday I spent home playing keyboard, and editing my songs. I had to tear myself away from the computer to go to work in the morning (yes, I recorded in the A.M. too) and I hurried home after work to get back to my project. My bedroom looked the aftermath of a blizzard, with pieces of paper all over the room containing chord progressions and song ideas scrawled down in middle of the night. I was completely preoccupied with my CD and my English was heavily sprinkled with recording jargon. Once when on a date, I asked the unsuspecting young man what kind of sound module he recommended would work best with a midi interface connected to Cakewalk-Sonar running on a delta-66 sound card.  He told me he had heard I was a singer but didn’t know I spoke Chinese. 

The songs poured out of me and before I knew it I had 11 songs recorded.  I spent late nights making the playbacks, recording harmonies, adding guitar tracks, editing and mixing. With every song came an emotional and spiritual high. People ask me all the time how I compose an original song. It’s hard to explain it. Sometimes the lyrics inspire the melody, and sometimes vice versa. Once in a while though, the song literally creates itself, and is those times I am reminded that my talent is a gift from Hashem and that I am merely a channel in which songs from heaven flow. They say music is the pen of the soul and I feel connected to Hashem when my Neshama expresses itself through His Torah . 

Money came in from concerts and I invested all profits into the upcoming album (and a designer set of luggage that was blue suede with white trim. Note to serious travelers: never buy luggage with white trim. The white trim will only stay white for one trip.) Everything was running smoothly up until the last moments when a printing error nearly cost me the entire CD.  Here’s a little secret about me: although I can write a complete song in under 30 minutes, I am artistically retarded. Fortunately I had a friend in the graphic art business so I hired her and gave her the freedom to come up with an original idea for the cover. She emailed me the first draft and I was very pleased with the results. Before I ok-ed the jpegs I went to a popular Jewish music website and scanned the CD covers that were selling there to double check that my CD would stand out amongst the rest. To my dismay I discovered a CD, by another female, with a cover that was almost identical in color to mine! I emailed my friend and asked her to change the colors completely. She adjusted the colors a half a dozen times until I was content that we had an original color theme. Now, truth be told, my friend hesitated with the final version and insisted the colors were too dark and drab. I should have listened to her. (I hope my friend the graphic artist is reading this. I’m sorry that we ran into such complications. You are very talented and I truly loved your design!)When the CDs came out 3 weeks later, I rushed to pick up a case from the distributor and was horrified to see how somber the colors had come out in print! I sat in my car and stared at the jewel case, devastated. Don’t forget, I had printed a few thousand of them! I tore off the plastic wrap to inspect the inside. Maybe it won’t be so bad once I opened it I hoped. It only got worse. All the Hebrew text in the booklet was completely undecipherable! The letters of the Aleph Beis had been replaced by tiny rectangular shapes (which I now know to be the font wingding). I couldn’t believe it. My first reaction was total frustration. How on earth had this happened? How was I going to fix this? WHY ME?? Then, after a moments thought, my frown was replaced with a large smile. B”h! I thought. Gam Zu Letovah! What Hashgacha Protis! Here I was getting frantic instead of thanking Hashem who had done me a tremendous favor. A printing mistake would now give me the opportunity to reprint and thereby change the colors which I so vehemently despised! After a few phone calls, the CDs were quickly pulled off of all the store shelves and sent back to the manufacturer. New artwork was created and a month later, a new and improved “The Crown of Creation” was finally released. The CDs flew off the shelves and the album received great reviews from friends and fans everywhere. 

‘No matter where you roam, you’re never on your own, you lived amongst the strangers, but now you’re welcome home…’

I’d like to share with the readers some of the beautiful letter I have received over the last 5 years: 

“Chanale, your music did more to motivate and excite me to do Mitzvos …than a Shuir…you accomplished that in a way of Simcha that shoots straight to the Neshama... The song Shabbos Queen motivated me to take Shabbos candles to a Jewish girl caught up in a Harry Krishna cult. Chanale, your songs lit up my heart and that’s why when I gave her those candles it lit hers…” A fan

 “I just want you to know that I brought a girl from our community to your concert…she started lighting Shabbos candles…she puts on your CD and that is what inspires her.” -A Shlucha

“Your music is inspiring and uplifting…it shows the true beauty of Bnos Yisroel.” A fan

“I am 17 years old. I am also a diabetic..I was hospitalized recently for a week. Can you guess what got me
through all those long hours in the emergency room? What got me through those
days of imprisonment by the iv pole? What pulled me through when I was told the
grim reality: that no seminary in Eretz Yisroel wants the responsibility of
having a girl with so many health problems? Your music.”  A fan

“Chanale, I was so impressed by what a deep spiritual person you are. I'm a high school
teacher, and from teaching and getting close to so many of my students, I could
feel that you were real and that the singing came from your heart…when you sang, you came across as such a loving and caring person and your warm
e-mail shows me this is not just a 'stage personality' but the true you.” A fan

“Chanale-I cannot begin to express my delight with your music…your singing brought me to tears…I grew up in a town north of Boston exposed to only a small community of Jews…it was not until I moved to N.Y. that I really understood/appreciated my Jewish heritage…thank you for touching my heart Monday night...you are an inspiring young woman.” A fan

“Dear Chanale, thank you for coming…to sing with us. The women were truly inspired…for days afterwards they could not stop talking about how much they learned from you in such a short amount of time and how you touched their souls in such a powerful way..”-Shlucha

“My wife and I want to thank you for the wonderful performance...we had a bad experience last year with a non-Chabad performer who left everyone with a very bad taste...B”h you succeeded in helping us get our message back on track…you have the opportunity to bring the Rebbe’s message and understanding of Yiddishkeit to the world in a way that few others can…I hope you appreciate the great value you can bring to the world of Shlichus…”-Shliach

“I can’t thank you enough for you absolutely amazing performance…one mother, whom I met for the first time at the program signed her daughter up for our camp...Chanale, you were a hit!”-Shlucha

“Thank you for your inspiring and quality evening. You really made a mark on our community and for that I am most grateful.”-Shlucha

“I just want to tell you that I admire you and you have an amazing talent…I am obsessed with ‘It’s all my Mother’ and ‘Special Child’, I don’t know how you wrote them, it’s a Brocha from Hashem. I just stopped listening to non-Jewish music and have been doing so many things to change my life in a good way and when I heard your new CD, it inspired me even more…” A fan

‘Can you find me a woman who’s got more than me?’

The year after I got married,  I released my third album “Vatispalel Chana” which I wrote entirely in Eretz Yisroel. My husband, Rafael, who is also musically talented, loves what I do and appreciates the excitement that my career brings to our lives. Sometimes he is so proud it’s embarrassing. He introduces me as “My wife, the singer” and beams when someone recognizes me or asks me for an autograph. I know I am lucky to have a husband that is as enthusiastic as I am about music and who doesn’t mind to have a wife who is more interested in recording than cooking. He may go hungry, he says, but at least he’s entertained. I know I am lucky and I count my blessings every day, thanking Hashem for giving me this special gift. Before every concert, before I go onstage, I pray to Hashem that I will relay my message in a dignified manner and that I be a proper role model to the women and girls in my audience. I know I am not perfect but it helps to remember that as a Lubavitcher, the Rebbe is with me and gives me special strength because I use my music as a Shlichus.  I am humbled by the great responsibility that was given to me as a Frum singer and I hope that I will continue to have these tremendous opportunities to enhance Yiddishkeit and warm women’s hearts through my songs. 

When we returned to New York in 2006, we went straight to the Ohel from the airport. I remember my husband encouraging me to write in my Pan a request for Parnasah, healthy pregnancies and children, Sholom Bayis etc. but all that was on my mind that moment was my music, and I asked in my Pan that the Rebbe give me Bracha in my career so that my music would spread farther, and reach the ears of Jewish women worldwide, in every circle, in every community. It was positively life-changing for me when I came in to watch the JEM vidoes and the clip playing was a compilation of segments featuring famous singers (Avraham Fried, MBD, Helfgott etc) visiting the Rebbe and receiving advise and Brachos. It was all the answer I needed and I went home, set up shop, and began recording "Chanale & Friends", a double album that contains songs from talented girls from all over the world.

"That's the way that a Jewish woman makes it.."

"Chanale & Friends" was released while pregnant with my first daughter Hadassa and some of my strongest songwriting is showcased on this compilation. The song "Sister, Sister" now has it's own sister slideshow featuring many of my family and friends with their sisters. Today the song is the number one requested song at concerts and I never turn down a request to sing it. It's full-on love, that song.  Between the births of my two daughters I have bh have continued to sing regularly at concerts, Bas Mitzvahs, and my favorite venues, by Shluchos' gorgeous programs. Shluchos, I love you. Thank for your continued support over the years. 

In 2011 I finished up my fifth album, "Taking Over My Heart". For the first time in my career, my music has been created with a team of professional musicians and recording engineers, producing the best sounding project to date. The songs are magnificent, loaded with substance, completely relevant to every Jewish woman's life. I am most proud of the new song "Her Home" (lyrics included) that is based on the lives of 3 special women, one being my sister-in-law Michal in Eretz Yisroel, one of my closest friends and certainly biggest fans. The song is dedicated to my friend Alisheva Givre (www.myshtub.blogspot.com). 


Her Home

Dina's working full time
And the hours leave her spent
But come early Friday morning
She bakes bread in Saras tent
Tells her daughters that she's thankful
That God is good and He does provide
This is Challa this is blessing this is pride
This is Challa this is blessing this is pride

That's the way a Jewish woman makes it
That's the way she builds it up with her bare hands
That's the way from nothing she creates it
Her home, her home

Leah lives a good life
And her fortune has been kind
Though she doesn't know the struggle
It doesn't mean she's blind
So she teachers her small children
Money comes from pockets above
This is Tzedaka, this is giving, this is love
This is Tzedaka, this is giving, this is love

That's the way a Jewish woman makes it
That's the way she builds it up with her bare hands
That's the way from nothing she creates it
Her home, her home

Michal owns a small store
Pays bills with what she earns
Cuz she wants her children knowing
That their Abba sits and learns
For the sake of Klal Yisroel
She'll sacrifice her days and her nights
This is Torah this is holy this is light
This is Torah this is holy this is light

That's the way a Jewish woman makes it
That's the way she builds it up with her bare hands
That's the way from nothing she creates it
Her home, her home

It’s been 10 years since I first sang in the Broward Center of Performing Arts, thanks to my cousin Devorale and her big dream for me. In this time I have recorded 5 albums, written over 100 songs, sung in over 150 Chabad houses, performed for thousands upon thousands of women around the world, and sold many more CDs than I ever hoped I would. I also discovered a lot about myself; my hopes, dreams, fears, expectations and capabilities. I’ve found that giving is receiving; that when I inspire others I get inspired in return, and most of all that, Jewish music is not something I do, but something I am. While having dinner at my grandparents’ home once, my Zaidy asked me why I don’t go into the Shaitel business like my mother did. Without hesitation my husband answered “Chanale’s business is not in women’s heads, it’s in women’s souls.”
  Today, I don’t need a manicurist to define me. It’s my commitment to Yiddishkeit, my dedication to the Rebbe, my happy marriage, my loving relationship with my family, and the connections I have made with my listeners that defines me. And of course, it’s the music.

6 comments:

  1. Chanale thank you for an amazing performance and a night of dancing.
    Love your idea of a trip to the Flea Market. I'm gonna do that with my girls. They'd love it!!
    May you always be a source of simcha!!

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  2. Hi, I read with interest your journey with music. I would have loved having a story similar to that, but I don't. I just love music and singing and I've even written at least one song. Is it possible to publish a song I feel very passionate about without a busy history or even so much experience in the music world? Is there any way you could guide me? Is it possible for you to contact me in the spirit of helping a fellow singer(wannabee)? Thank you. miriamwwriter@aol.com

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  3. Wow, what a journey! I love the writing, your honesty and humor. Your songs touch a deep place in my soul, they have me crying in seconds. May you have continued strength to continue your work.

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  4. please post sheet music for ur songs. thank you

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  5. ENJOYED YOU ON CRUISE! please DISTRIBUTE all SONGS B/F YOUR CONCERT! WISH i can get your sheet of songs via e mail "8536100MENORAH" . pls call me home 718-387-2347. Shira,

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  6. kindly distribute sheets to concert goers. love your personality; & your singing wardrobe!

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