ESCONDIDO, Calif. — December 6 marks the last day of Hanukkah in 2021 and the perfect opportunity for one family to celebrate their Jewish heritage. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Escondido for the release of a special album.
The mother and daughter team previously known for children’s music and other collaborations just released an album titled "I Had A Dream – Songs of an Immigrant". Ruth Weber and Emilia Lopez-Yañez hope their one-of-a-kind album transcends generations and tells the story of Ruth's late grandma, Betty Karon Hertz.
As a child, Betty made a daring escape from Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution. Betty wrote a book of poems that describes her immigration to the United States.
Ruth and her daughter Emilia turned those poems into music. "I was excited because we have worked on other projects before together, but it's never been such a personal project," said Emilia.
Personal because Emilia's great-grandmother and Ruth's grandmother, Betty, left the family her story. "She always wrote poetry," said Ruth.
The book of poems describes Betty's escape from Russia. "Right before the Holocaust broke out the last of her family escaped to the United States," said Ruth who spent years composing the music.
Listeners can follow along as Betty picks mushrooms in the forest at the age of eight to keep her family from starving; as she dreams of a life as a writer in “I Had a Dream;” and as she hides in a trench on her parent’s farm in “I Am a Tree,” during the numerous invasions of her town which occurred before the Holocaust.
The journeys and struggles of each immigrant are fascinating and we hope you will enjoy this one, set in song.
Because many recording studios were closed during the pandemic, Ruth and Emilia recorded some of the album in a closet. "I mean we were in a small closet for many hours every day," laughed Emilia.
Not only are they still talking, but they're also sharing Betty's incredible story of survival. "It's great to let people know about what immigrants have to go through when they come to the United States," said Ruth.
One family member hid in an oven, another under a sack of potatoes to escape Russia. Not only did they make it to America, "I Had A Dream – Songs of an Immigrant" did too. "We really grew closer through a shared interest," said Emilia.
"I feel finally satisfied that I finally helped get her story out there," said Ruth. “When I was a little girl, I listened intently while Grandma Betty told us stories of how she and her brother and sisters came to the United States during the Bolshevik Revolution."
Ruth and Emilia are both classically trained musicians, and their music has appeared on television, in film, with symphonies, and in choral music arrangements. I Had A Dream is available on Amazon.
Learn more about Ruth and Emilia at their website, RuthandEmilia.com.
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