Art Works Blog

A Master Class in Inspiration

Washington, DC

Nick Spitzer interviews Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman at the 2005 NEA National Heritage Fellows concert. Photo by Michael G. Stewart

In 2005, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman received an NEA National Heritage Fellowship for her work and mastery as a Yiddish singer, poet, and songwriter. In this excerpt from an interview with the NEA, Schaechter-Gottesman---who lives in New York City---speaks about the role of inspiration in her work.

I really feel inspired while traveling to or on subway, or by car, or when I'm working. I always carry a pad of paper and sometimes a tape recorder. This is what makes me want to sing---the city is full of movement and full of happenings. I wrote the song "The Saxophone Player" in the subway station. This is one of my later songs. I saw this man, a saxophone player on the steps going down to the subway. Nobody listens to him really, but his song goes high above everybody. It is very touching.

You can learn more about this living national treasure and hear samples of Schaechter-Gottesman's work in the National Heritage Fellows section on our website.

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