Episode 36: Hip Hop Meets Feminist Kabbalah w/Victoria Hanna
“Every Letter, Every Vowel Is Its Own Universe.”
Victoria Hanna is a “vocal artist” – not a singer. What does that mean? The Israeli artist has set herself the aim of creating art through the combined use of language, voice and music. And she has achieved that to a most astonishing degree. Victoria Hanna moves between ancient music and contemporary beats, between philosophical and religious texts. Her compositions are shaped by diverse vocal techniques, both sung and spoken. She explores the boundaries of the human voice, plays with letters, recites the Aleph-Bet.
Having grown up in a strictly orthodox tradition (her father an Egyptian rabbi and her mother of Persian descent), Victoria Hanna has liberated herself from the confines of that orthodoxy while at the same time preserving and continuing its cultural heritage, which she has translated into an idiosyncratic and thoroughly contemporary context. She has stuttered since childhood. This inborn speech disability was actually her greatest gift, and what led her to explore the boundaries of sound and diction. She embarked on an inner journey to explore “the mouth” as creator, which became the inspirational and emotional journey of her life.
Victoria Hanna studied acting and can be seen in various films (such as “Next To Her” by Asaf Korman) and learned a variety of song traditions. She has performed at festivals all over the world.
Victoria Hanna about her debut album:
“It consists entirely of ancient Hebrew texts with which I grew up. It is divided into two sections, two worlds that I explore – voice and speech. Voice is abstract, free in space. Speech is concrete, conceptual and rhythmic. Victoria and Hanna are my two grandmothers, after whom I am named. They were both married as girls, against their will. Victoria – rebelled, stood up for herself, had a courageous heart and was revolutionary for me. Hanna – was withdrawn, served, surrendered and was my home and my heart.”
In my conversation with Victoria Hanna we discussed:
Inverting the patriarchal and exclusionary elements within traditional Judaism in order to see the real expansiveness and breadth that exists just beneath the surface.
How we can go about using our speech throughout our everyday lives so that we give the words that we use the proper respect and weight that they are due.
The relationship between Judaism and Hebrew. Can one exist without the other?
Screen Shot from Victoria Hanna’s Latest Music Video: Orayta.
For some resources recommended by Victoria Hanna, be sure to check out:
“Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation in Theory and Practice” by Aryeh Kaplan
“Selected Poems” by Chaim Nachman Bialik
And, of course, her website can be found here.
To watch Victoria Hanna’s latest song, click on the video below!
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