Cover for SLOBIN: Chosen Voices: The Story of the American Cantorate. Click for larger image

Chosen Voices

The Story of the American Cantorate

The evolution of the cantor in the United States

Week after week, year after year, Jews turn to sacred singers for spiritual and emotional support. At the same time, the job of the hazzan, or cantor, is deeply embedded in the cultural, social, and religious symbolism negotiated between a congregation and its sacred singers.

Chosen Voices is a definitive look at a profession that is also a vocation. Drawing on archival sources, interviews with cantors, and photographs, Mark Slobin traces the development of the cantorate in the United States. Slobin delves into the nebulous beginnings of the hazzan as a recognizable figure and charts the cantor's changing role through the heyday of the superstar sacred singer in the early twentieth century to women's inclusion in the contemporary cantorate. Slobin's insightful analysis offers careful consideration of the sacred singer's part in creating and maintaining the worship service, a look at the relationship between the rabbi and the hazzan within the synagogue, and a discussion of the music sung by contemporary cantors.


"A fascinating study showing the complexities of American Jewish religious life and the social and religious problems faced by professional prayer leaders within the synagogue context."--Choice


Mark Slobin is a professor emeritus of music at Wesleyan University. His books include Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klesmer World and Tenement Songs: The Popular Music of the Jewish Immigrants.

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