March 27, 2009 | 8:03 pm
Posted by Orit Arfa
I desperately tried to find a Jewish connection to the latest YouTube wunderkind, Izabelle, who is billed as the “3 year-old Britney fan.” As a Britney fanatic myself (I know, roll your eyes, but it’s true), I was amazed how this three (now four) year-old so perfectly executed covers to Britney’s songs. Notice her passion, her inflections, her facial expressions. That’s my kinda girl.
The best I could dig up was that she goes to a preschool owned and run by a Jewish couple (although it is not a Jewish preschool per se). But then I wonder, if it got out that a Jewish preschool is producing toddlers who passionately mimic Britney’s taunts, what kind of backlash would there be in the Jewish community?
Izabelle is in fact Armenian, said her mother, Eliza, over e-mail, from their home in Hollywood. After checking out the Jewish Journal site, Eliza later revealed with warmth that her grandfather was born in Jerusalem where there is a sizable Armenian population in the Armenian quarter of the Old City. Izabelle has a whole playlist on YouTube; here she performs the title song of Britney’s tour, “Circus.”
“Circus” is about putting on a show (it begins with, “there are two kinds of people in the world: the ones that entertain and the ones that observe”). It totally inspired me as I worked to create “The Chosen Dish”, the Jewish Journal’s on-line kosher cooking contest premiering April 1. And how’s this for a Jewish connection? The songwriters, Lucazs Gottwald (aka Dr. Luke) and Benjamin Levin are both Jewish. Curiously, one of the publishers of the song is listed as “Matza Ball Music.” It’s God’s hechsher (kosher certification).
I should’ve known better than to wonder if Izabelle was Jewish. No Jewish mother in their right mind would allow their toddler to strut to the world’s most famous shiksa on YouTube, but Eliza has something to say to anyone who would scold her parental judgment.
“In this society, I don’t think any parent has the ability to completely safeguard their children from such songs because if it’s not Britney Spears, its Ludacris; if it’s not Ludacris, it’s Lil Wayne. At this point she loves singing; she is free to sing from Britney Spears to the Phantom of the Opera. I will not discourage her. She is a very smart little girl.”
And clearly talented—a natural performer.
“Izabelle taught herself all the lyrics,” said Eliza. “YouTube is under her ‘favorites’ so she knows how to go to her favorites, click on YouTube, and open all the videos. Recognizing the pictures, she knows which picture links to which song. Then she will play the video, go back if she missed a part of the song and replay it…That is what she does every day after preschool. She loves music, and she is a very, very fast learner. It will only take her to listen to a song maybe about three to six times before she starts singing along like an original.”
Aside from playing Britney in the car, Eliza doesn’t direct her daughter.
“The performing part is all her—the facial expressions are one hundred percent her. No one told her what to do; it is what she feels when she’s singing. She feels every song she sings… she doesn’t just sing a song.”
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