Ladino is the language of the Jews who lived in Spain for 1500 years until their expulsion in 1492 by Isabella and Ferdinand. After that traumatic separation, the Jews migrated to various areas, and the language incorporated words from countries all across the Ottoman Empire. Yasmin Levy’s father was a Sephardic Jew from Turkey, and Ladino was spoken by her parents. She learned to sing and loved the repertoire from an early age, but her incorporation of Flamenco into her interpretations has stirred controversy among purists. However, Yasmin is a charismatic and passionate advocate for the language and music, and feels that the best way she can help her beloved Ladino to survive is to make the songs more accessible.

When I was a kid going to a Jewish summer camp, we all had to learn a Ladino song, “Los Bilbilicos” (The Nightingales). It was a stately song, and very Spanish sounding to me. More recently, another Ladino treasure that has become popular among the cognicenti is “El Rey de Francia,” a magnificent song worth searching out….but personally, I can’t imagine a Flamenco treatment of it!

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Here’s where you’ll find my weekly original world music video blogs that appear on Huffington Post, as well as an archive starting in April of 2009.

This is also the place where you will find video that is exclusive to my site. I’ve traveled to places like Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Taiwan and no matter where I go I have found amazingly talented and creative people working in every genre from the deepest traditions to the cutting edge.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to interview them and to capture some of what they do on video. Enjoy what you see and hear, and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.