Judith Cohen

Crédit photo : Alex Felipe

Dr Judith Cohen, Montreal-born ethnomusicologist and singer, tells songs and sings stories from many traditions. She is internationally known as a specialist in Sephardic songs and related diaspora traditions, including Spain, Portugal, the Balkans, Francophone Canada, Yiddish and Medieval Iberia and Provence. An inveterate traveller, over the past year and a half, Judith has lectured, sung, carried out ethnomusicology fieldwork and lived innumerable stories in Spain, Pakistan, Sicily, Morocco, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Cuba, Portugal, Israel, France, Bulgaria, the USA, Serbia and Brazil.

Judith tells stories and anecdotes – from the reflective to the hilarious and back – of her decades of travel, often hitching rides and staying in unlikely places. She weaves traditional songs into stories and stories into songs, often singing an old narrative ballad in versions from different cultures, changing languages and tunes and interspersing stories of the people she learned the songs from.

Judith teaches part-time at York University in Toronto. She presents in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese. While it is often impractical to travel with her medieval and traditional instruments, she rarely goes anywhere without at least a frame drum and a set of emergency spoons.