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Vocolot is a contemporary Jewish women's a cappella ensemble based in California consisting of Elizabeth Stuart, Julia Bordenaro, Shana Levy, and director Linda Hirschhorn, founded in 1988. The group performs original compositions and arrangements of traditional Jewish, folk, and world-music songs in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and Arabic. Mixing folk, classical, cantorial and jazz idioms in a polyphonic style of intricately interwoven voices, the women perform a cappella with occasional use of hand drums and body percussion. The ensemble has been compared to Sweet Honey in the Rock[1]. Vocolot has won several awards, including CARA awards for best album and best song[2], and most recently they were the only American group to make it to the finals at the 2008 International Jewish Music Competition in Amsterdam[3].

Many of Vocolot's songs share themes of peace and justice, and Vocolot has sung at numerous rallies and fundraisers on behalf of El Salvador, Nicaragua, the homeless, women's shelters, Darfur[4], Israel and Palestine[5], and at many anti-war demonstrations. In addition, they commonly perform at festivals, conferences and conventions, folk music clubs, Jewish community centers and federations, colleges and universities, and synagogues throughout the U.S.A.


Vocolot began in 1988, when singer-songwriter Linda Hirschhorn informally assembled a group of musicians to record some of the songs she had written for four- and five-part vocal harmonies. When they had finished recording those, for the Gather Round album, she asked the singers to join her in an on-going group. The founding members were Rosalind Glazer, Max Ventura, Tay Holden and Linda Hirschhorn.

Vocolot has gone through many incarnations as new members joined and prior members left to start families and pursue other careers. Besides the current members and the founders, there were Kirsten Zerger, Alisa Peres, Helen Cohen, Ellen Robinson, Gale Kissin, Judy Larson, Sharon Preves, Abbe Lyons, Naomi Hannah, Judith-Kate Friedman, Fran Avni, Jennifer Karno, Alison Lewis, and Felicia Sloin.

Although Vocolot performs mostly a cappella, in the early 1990s they began incorporating percussion into some of their songs, with Helen Cohen, Gale Kissin, Ellen Robinson and Liz Stuart on doumbek and frame drums, and one of their more recent songs, "These Hands", integrates body percussion.


The name 'Vocolot' (Hebrew pronunciation: [vokoˈlot]) is a bilingual pun on the English word "vocal", and the Hebrew word קולות qolot [qoˈlot] , meaning "voices", chosen by the founding members in November 1988, at a time when the politically active group was encouraging electoral participation with the slogan was "Get out the local vote with Vocolot!" at their performances.

Current members

  • Linda Hirschhorn
  • Elizabeth Stuart
  • Julia Bordenaro
  • Shana Levy

Former Members

  • Rosalind Glazer (1988–1996)
  • Max Ventura (1988–1989)
  • Tay Holden (1988–1989)
  • Kirsten Zerger (1989-1992)
  • Alisa Peres (1989)
  • Helen Cohen (1992)
  • Ellen Robinson (1989–2005)
  • Gale Kissin (1991–1992)
  • Judy Larson (1990–1991)
  • Sharon Preves (1991–1992)
  • Abbe Lyons (1992–1995)
  • Naomi Hannah (1992)
  • Judith-Kate Friedman (1995–2003)
  • Fran Avni (1996)
  • Jennifer Karno (1997–2006)
  • Alison Lewis (1998–2003)
  • Felicia Sloin (2003–2005)


Vocolot has produced four albums under the Oyster Albums label by Kehila Productions in Berkeley, California. Their songs are registered with BMI.

  • HeartBeat (2002)
  1. Heart Beat
  2. La Comida
  3. Zog Maran
  4. Elokim
  5. Guide Me
  6. Who Can You Lean On
  7. Full Circle
  8. Yesh Lanu Koach
  9. For Talia: Born 9/11/85
  10. These Hands
  11. Ocho kandelikas
  12. Los Bilbilicos
  13. Eretz Zavat Chalav U'Dvash
  14. Sarah and Hagar
  15. Pitchu Li / Effen Oyf: A Chant to Life
  • Behold! (1998)
  1. Lo Yisa Goy (Study War No More)
  2. Hareh Aht / Hashmi'ini (Behold!)
  3. Bird
  4. Rosh Hodesh (New Moon) Candlelighting
  5. Blessed Is The Flame
  6. May Rue Platz (My Resting Place)
  7. Sham'a (Hear and Rejoice)
  8. V'ayrastich Li (Betrothal)
  9. If You Can Walk
  10. Imri Na (My Sister)
  11. Camarada
  12. Eretz Shiv'at Haminim (The Land of Seven Species)
  13. Eli, Eli
  14. Wings Span
  • Roots & Wings (1992)
  1. Roots & Wings
  2. Not by Might
  3. What Happened to the Dream?
  4. If Not Now
  5. Homeless Blues
  6. Kahrev Yom
  7. Mizmor Shir
  8. But Ask Now the Beasts / Trees of the Wild
  9. Waltzing in the Shadows (In Memoriam - A Yizkor for Tay)
  10. Stepping Lightly
  11. Shifchi Ka-Ma'yim
  12. Marbeh
  13. Play On
  14. Blessing for Children
  15. Circle Chant (New version)
  • Gather Round (1989)
  1. Ilu Finu
  2. Miriam's Slow Snake Dance
  3. Ki Hem Chayenu
  4. Blessing After the Meal
  5. Chanukah / Solstice
  6. Women Gathering Round
  7. I Have a Million Nightingales
  8. Ruth and Naomi
  9. Yom Shabbaton
  10. Ufarsu Lara'ev
  11. The Full Moon Song
  12. The Berry Song
  13. Nigun


  • International Jewish Music Festival 2008 Amsterdam Competition Finalist[3]
  • Harmony Sweepstakes Bay Area Regional 2nd-Place Winner[6]
  • Just Plain Folks 2006 Music Awards Nominee, for Behold![7]
  • The Contemporary A Cappella Society CARA 2003 Award for Best Album, HeartBeat[2]
  • The Contemporary A Cappella Society CARA 2003 Award for Best Song, "La Comida"[2]
  • The Contemporary A Cappella Society CARA 1998 Award Runner-up for Best Song, "Eretz Shiv'at Haminim"[8]


External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Vocolot. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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