Neshama comes back
BROOKLINE – Last October, the lovely and talented Jewish soul singer Neshama Carlebach, 43, returned to performing after a four-year hiatus. During that break, she finally grieved the loss of her father and mentor, Shlomo Carlebach, “The Singing Rabbi,” who died in 1994; went through a difficult divorce, leaving her the single parent of two sons, ages six and 10; and replenished her creative juices.
“It’s been an amazing moment for me,” Neshama says mellifluously of her return to singing. “The last time I was this busy, I had full-time child care, an assistant, a label, a manager… a whole staff. Now, I’m handling all of my entire life on my own, and it’s incredibly overwhelming. I’ve never worked this much without a team.
“It’s been so unbelievably inspiring to people,” she continues.
“When someone hears of my going to be out there, the love that I’m getting, it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before.
Performing again, Neshama sometimes travels with her children. “After a really contentious divorce, I’m on incredible terms with their father,” she says. “I never believed that we could come to this. I got him a present for our one-year ‘Peace-aversary,’ one year of peace. It’s a very magical thing.
So, his cooperation and his kindness is really allowing me to go back to work. “My children, when they’re with me, they’re incredibly portable,” she continues. “They’re openhearted and well-behaved, and really just gorgeous.
When I have to keep them at home, my mom helps me. Thank God, I have real support in my life right now, or else I would not be able to do this.”
Neshama’s life experience has enriched her work and allowed for a deeper connection with her audience. She is warm and accessible, open to hearing and sharing intimacies.
“I gotta tell you,” she says during our conversation, “what just happened here happens to me every day of my life. In my work, I end up being part social worker, part counselor. Before my divorce, I kind of did it half-heartedly. I did it because my dad did it. I did it because I have a lot of compassion. I listen.
“These days, I can’t even tell you how many people call me,” she continues. “I end up doing what you and I just did. So my work is incredibly musically gratifying, but I also feel like I’m here for a purpose. I have something to give.”
Before the hiatus, “I did shows that my heart was not in,” Neshama says. “My management team said to me, ‘You’ve lost your Neshama-ness.’”
After a while, though, she found not working difficult. “I felt physically disabled when I wasn’t singing,” she says.
Neshama is “so elated, excited and happy” to be performing again. “Going back to it, I’m literally like a child. I run to the airport at four in the morning with so much excitement. It’s really funny.
“I only wish I had more hours in the day,” she continues. “My schedule is getting so packed. I really, really want to be present for my children; they’re with me most of the time. My days are filled with the quest for balance and equilibrium. Also, with deep reflection, and deep awareness of where the world is at, and deep appreciation that I can be myself again.”
“Passover Music Festival featuring Neshama Carlebach,” Temple Sinai of Brookline, March 19, 7:30 p.m.; suggested donation, $10; bit.ly/Neshama-Sinai, (617) 277-5888