Music is a calling, divine or otherwise. For some the calling is entirely secular, for others it is profoundly spiritual, but all the talented young musicians featured in Wendla Nölle’s documentary The Chosen Ones feel deeply and undeniably the intertwining of the music they make and their religious experience.
Musician and filmmaker Nölle travels to Manhattan in search of the face of young Jewish music and serves up a sampler of New York’s new generation of Jewish musicians, who display overwhelming variety, freshness, humor, intensity and talent. Among the artists profiled is an Orthodox convert who can rap in four different languages, weaving them into a musical study of Talmudic teachings; a young blues musician who sings almost forgotten cantorial chants against African beats; a pop music group that combines a funk sound with Jewish spirituality and Hebrew lyrics; and an Orthodox rabbi who has found a home in the Lower East Side’s indie music scene with funny, quirky songs (reminiscent of Jonathan Richman) that often deal with weighty subjects such as the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Anchoring this whirlwind tour is the city of New York itself, its frenetic multiplicity adding a vibrant backdrop to these distinct performances. Not only a look at Jewish music today, The Chosen Ones is a study in microcosm of a generation coming of age, as diverse artists grapple with how to combine their beliefs, cultural backgrounds and individual voices into an expression of who they are