Yasmin Levy was born in Jerusalem, Israel on December 23, 1975. Her father was Isaac (Yitzhak) Levy, a Turkish-born composer and cantor who was dedicated to the preservation of the music of the Sephardic Jewish community. He published 14 books in his lifetime and, as part of his position as the director of the Ladino Department at Israel's national radio station, had an enormous collection of recorded works. He died when Yasmin was just a year old, and she was raised by her mother, Kohava, who had learned much of the repertoire from Yitzhak, and who taught it to Yasmin. Yasmin studied piano from the age of six and began singing as a teenager.
Yasmin Levy first performed publicly as a singer when she was 21, as a guest in a concert of her mother's. A few years later, in 2000, she recorded her first album, Romance and Yasmin, which was followed by 2002's La Juderia, which was released in conjunction with her first performance at WOMEX, a world music business conference and expo. It was also in 2002 that Levy received a scholarship to study flamenco, whose influences she soon began working deeply into her own traditional Ladino sound, based in Judeo-Spanish traditions, which are subsequently based in ancient Jewish, Hispano-Celtic, and even Moorish musics, among others. Her latest two albums are 2007's Mano Suave (released in 2009 in the US) and 2009's Sentir, released in 2011 in the US.
In her music, Levy explores the subtleties of the ancient and modern forms of all of these genres, celebrating their similarities and finding the beauty in their differences. As a singer-songwriter, she often creates new compositions based on these sounds, though she also covers both traditional songs and even, occasionally, pop hits (such as Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which she gives the Ladina treatment on her album Sentir). She uses a variety of traditional Western and Mediterranean folk instruments in her recordings, including piano, violin, cello, oud, and various forms of percussion from around the world. The result is sweeping and dramatic, yet effortlessly rooted in tradition, and always, always impeccably produced.
Awards and Honors:
Yasmin Levy has twice been honored in the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards, and has also been nominated for an Edison Award (Holland's version of the Grammys), an Anna Lindh Award in 2006 for her work in promoting cross-cultural dialogue, as well as various other international honors. She has also been named a Goodwill Ambassador for Children of Peace, a U.K.-based charity which focuses on the needs of children who've been affected by the ongoing violence in the Middle East.