Member Profile

Lenka Lichtenberg

Lenka Lichtenberg is a Canadian composer, vocalist, producer and a bandleader who channels the rich, intercultural Toronto soundscapes in her unique brand of world music. With diverse collaborations, she aspires to build bridges among cultures as she transcends boundaries between folk, jazz and world music in a passionate and often deeply spiritual celebration of her roots. A child star in her native Prague, Czech Republic, she is a multilingual vocalist who sings mostly in Yiddish, English, Czech, and Hebrew, and a bandleader with 7 solo CD releases on her resume.
Lenka tours internationally as a soloist and with various ensembles, presenting concerts in venues.such as the Toronto Jazz Festival; The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; the Canadian Embassy in Prague; museum in Alsace; vocal music festival in Abu Ghosh; Etno-fest in Wroclaw, Poland and the Klezfiesta in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her last two albums (Yiddish Journey 2016, and MASARYK, 2017) were released on the U.K. label ARC Music.
Her work has been rewarded with a number of nominations and awards, most recently winning the 2018 Independent Music Award for Masaryk, 2018 Songs from The Heart Award, and two nominations for the 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards. Her release Songs for the Breathing Walls, recorded live in Czech and Moravian synagogues, won 2012 Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Singer of the Year. She was also the co-founder of the group Sisters of Sheynville.
Lenka is the proud mother of three, and an environmental and animal rights activist.
Discography:
MASARYK: Narodni pisne - Czech, Moravian and Slovak folk songs re-imagined (2017)
Open My Ears: Lenkkodek (2017)
Live in America (2016)
Yiddish Journey (2016)
Lullabies from Exile: Yair Dalal & Lenka Lichtenberg (2014)
Embrace: Lenka Lichtenberg & Fray (2013)
Songs for the Breathing Walls (2012)
Bridges: Live at Lula Lounge with Roula Said (2012)
Fray: Lenka Lichtenberg & Fray (2010)
Sheynville Express: Sisters of Sheynville (2007)
Pashtes - Music to the Poetry of Simcha Simchovitch: Lenka Lichtenberg with Brian Katz (2006)
Open the Gate (2003)

Awards and nominations:
2018: Nominee, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Traditional Singer of the Year (MASARYK)
2018: Nominee, Canadian Folk Music Awards, World Solo Artist of the Year (MASARYK)
2018: Winner, FMO (Folk Music Ontario) Songs from the Heart, 'Folk Songs from Around the World' ("Sleep, Baby, Sleep")
2018: Winner, The 16th Independent Music Awards, Song New Age, Dobru noc, ma mila" (from MASARYK)
2018: Nominee, The 16th Independent Music Awards, Traditional Album (MASARYK) 2018: Nominee, The 16th Independent Music Awards, Traditional Song "Sly Panenky silnici (from MASARYK)
2017: Nominee, One World Music Awards (U.K.): Best World/ Global Fusion Album (Yiddish Journey)
2016: Nominee, Canadian Folk Music Awards, World Group of the Year (Live in America)
2015: Nominee, The 14th Independent Music Awards, Album - World Traditional (Lullabies from Exile)
2015: Nominee, The 14th Independent Music Awards, Song - World Traditional, "Perfume Road" (Embrace)
2014: Winner, The 13th Independent Music Awards, Vox Populi, Song - New Age ("Raise a Cup of Joy")
2014: Nominee, Toronto Independent Music Awards, "world music" (Embrace)
2014: Nominee, The 13th Independent Music Awards, Song - Eclectic ("Danse Suite Macabre")
2013: Nominee, Canadian Folk Music Awards, World Solo Artist of the Year (Embrace) 2013: Winner, The 12th Independent Music Awards, Vox Populi: "Album - World Traditional" (Songs for the Breathing Walls)
2013: Nominee, The 12th Independent Music Awards, Song - World Traditional (El Mi Migoalei Dam Etzak)
2012: Winner, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Traditional Singer of the Year (Songs for the Breathing Walls)
2012: Nominee, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Traditional Album of the Year (Songs for the Breathing Walls)
2011: Nominee, Toronto Independent Music Awards, world music category (Fray)
2011: Nominee, Canadian Folk Music Awards, World Solo Artist of the Year (Fray)
2011: Winner, Porcupine Award, Musique de la monde (Fray)
2011: Winner, Songs from the Heart, multicultural category ("Peace is the Only Way") 2011: Finalist, John Lennon Songwriting competition, Session II. ("Peace is the Only Way")
2008: Winner, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Vocal Group of the Year (Sheynville Express)

RECENT REVIEWS
.... prodigiously-gifted Canadian musician ... emerged as one of the most fascinating and compelling composers ...her voice soaring loftily as it always does in the musics many filigree lines... Raul da Gama, World Music Report
"... There are other Yiddish singers today, but arguably no one has done more than she has to bring the language from nostalgia into the present by combining fresh influences jazz, Brazilian, Middle Eastern, Indiannew compositions and her hypnotic, angelic voice. [...in ] a career that has cultivated the sounds of an interdependent world, [she] has used Yiddish to fashion a bridge from before to after, showing not only what might have been but also bringing might have to reality. - Alan Tigay, World Listening
Post (U.S.A)
A devoted exponent of Yiddish song, Lenka Lichtenberg returns with a deeply personal album MASARYK ...another fascinating window upon which to admire Lichtenbergs restless imagination. Tommie Black-Roff, UK Songlines
... "Passionate and prolific, Lenka Lichtenberg is a force of nature!"
Nicholas Jennings, Penguin Eggs, Canada
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Lenka Lichtenberg was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her mother was a child survivor of the Holocaust. Lenka was not aware that she was Jewish until the age of 10, and did not know her familys history until circumstances forced the revelation. The petite, blond singer spent her childhood years in the immensely popular musical theatre Semafor, as child star sidekick to the icon of Czech anti-establishment culture, Ji? Such, with whom she recorded several hits that remain popular to this day. She studied classical music at the Prague Music Conservatory, specializing in voice.
Once in Canada, Lenka performed in bars and hotels, and in a rock band travelling remote parts of British Columbia. She also cruised the Caribbean, singing on the Princess Cruise ship Sun Princess. Back at school, she received her Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia, and a Masters Degree in Ethnomusicology from the York University in Toronto. Her thesis was on Yiddish music of the Holocaust. Between 1997 and 2005, Lenka taught Music Appreciation at the Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto, while raising three children.
Getting to know her mothers familys story as an adult, Lenka felt compelled to refocus her creativity and musical energies and become a Yiddish singer, despite the fact that her Czech family was entirely assimilated and no Yiddish was spoken for several generations. After releasing three albums as a solo artist, Lenka co-founded, with Isabel Fryszberg, the Yiddish swing all-female group Sisters of Sheynville, with whom she performed across Canada, in the U.S. and Europe. The band won the Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year in 2008 for its Sheynville Express disc. Lenkas diverse musical palette continued to evolve, and crystallized in 2010 when she founded her ensemble Fray (Yiddish for free). With Fray bandmate and co-producer Alan Hetherington, Lenka recorded the bands eponymous debut LP in 2010, followed by Embrace (2013). Both albums of mostly original music build on Lenkas Eastern European roots and are further informed by her band members North Indian classical, Brazilian and Middle Eastern sensibilities.
While long known for her work in the realm of Yiddish music, Lenkas latest album marks her first foray into celebrating the music of her country of birth. Masaryk, described as breathlessly beautiful in the Dutch press (Moors Magazine), revisits some of the classic Czech, Moravian and Slovak folk songs that permeated Lenkas early childhood - and provided much of her introduction to folk music.
Lenka tours internationally as a soloist and with various ensembles, presenting concerts in venues ranging from The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., to Etno-fest in Wroclaw, Poland and the Klezfiesta in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her insatiable curiosity and desire to bridge cultures through music propel her to discover new possibilities as a composer, multi-lingual vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. Her work has been rewarded with a number of nominations and awards, most recently winning the 2018 Independent Music Award for Masaryk. Other notable awards include the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Singer of the Year for her album Songs for the Breathing Walls. For this unique collection, Lenka recorded sacred Hebrew songs in 12 synagogues across the Czech Republic with a cast of international artists from Czech Republic, Israel, Germany, Canada and Russia. The project was the focus of a TV documentary film by Jaroslav Hovorka, broadcast on Czech television.
Collaborations:
- Lullabies from Exile is a diasporic collection of lullabies, crafted by Lenka and world-renowned Judeo-Iraqi oud and violin virtuoso Yair Dalal, that unites long-disparate Ashkenazi and Babylonian Jewish traditions.
- Bridges is a collaboration between Lenka and Palestinian-Canadian vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and dancer Roula Said that creates a musical dialogue between Arabic and Jewish music, skillfully backed by Lenkas Fray ensemble.
- Her Yiddish creations include the album Pashtes - Simplicity, a collaboration with Brian Katz, for which she set to music ten poems by the poet Simcha Simchovitch.
- Masaryk is a tribute to Czech politician and diplomat Jan Masaryk, a collaboration with Czech percussionist and composer Tomas Reindl.
- As well, Lenka works with Canadas top global fusion producer Andrew McPherson, on electronica remixes (Lenkkodek: Open Your Ears), and the global roots fusion artist Graeme Drum (new original works in progress in April 2019).