February 6, 2003
If -- by chance -- you start flipping through Christian radio stations and you come across some Hebrew songs, the person singing them is most likely Sam Glaser, a Los Angeles-based Orthodox musician whose spiritual music is traversing religious boundaries. "I have no idea how the stations heard about me," Glaser said. "But whenever I have concerts, I have [Christians] coming up to me and saying things like, 'The Lord has blessed you.'"
Glaser's music is considered contemporary spiritual. He started out as a rock 'n' roller in the '80s, touring nightclubs in Southern California, but, in 1991, Glaser started keeping Shabbat, and his music changed accordingly. It didn't lose its up-tempo rhythm or its pop sensibilities, he said, but it started reflecting his growing religious awareness. "The more I learn and the more I grow in my Yiddishkayt, it naturally gets expressed in my music," he said. "Judaism gives me endless inspiration."
As a Jewish musician who writes and performs his own material, Glaser found that his talents are now in demand all over America. To date, he has recorded 11 Jewish CDs, each a top seller in the Jewish market. Glaser hopes his latest album, "The Bridge," will be a bridge between secular and religious Jews. "The whole idea is getting along with our fellow Jews, having interdenominational communication, having people deal with each other with kindness and understanding," Glaser said. "The unity is crucial to our survival."
Glaser regularly goes on 50-city tours, a schedule that he finds both exhausting and wonderful. "It is a crazy way to earn a living," he said. "I sometimes shake my head and wonder 'what am I doing here?' -- but the feeling of performing for smiling, singing people, moving them toward a more spiritual place in their lives is about as satisfying as anything that I have ever done, and it outweighs the tsurus of security checks at airports."
On Feb. 9, Glaser will perform a benefit concert with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. The proceeds from the concert will go to The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance. For tickets call 310-478-9311; or visit www.lajewishsymphony.com. For more information on Sam Glaser, log on to www.samglaser.com .