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Josef 'Yossele' Rosenblatt
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    (May 9, 1882-June 19, 1933)
    Born in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine
    Singer, composer
    World-renowned Chazzan, or ‘Cantor'
    Leading figure in the establishment of Cantorial music’s ‘Golden Age’
    Started out in Vienna; extensively touring throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire, later relocated to Hungary, and then Germany
    Moved to Harlem to take a position at the Ohab Zedek orthodox congregation, in 1906
    Signed a 10-year contract with First Congregation Anshe Sfard, located in Borough Park, Brooklyn
    Traveled throughout the United States, leading services in Minneapolis, Seattle, Indianapolis, Columbus, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
    Played himself in a small role for the first talking motion picture, ‘The Jazz Singer,’ in 1927
    Traveled to Palestine to sing in a documentary, ‘The Voice of the Israel,’ where he died of a heart attack, at the age of 51 (1933)
    Known for his trademark 'krekhts,' or sobs, which enabled his voice to 'crack' to convey emotion
    Composed close to two hundred musical pieces, although only one hundred and eighty have been preserved
    He began his career at age eight.
    His popularity declined in the late 1920s.
    His musical renditions have not all aged well with contemporary listeners.
    He went bankrupt after investing his money into plans for a pro-Jewish newspaper.
    The failed venture came at the worst timing, following the 1929 Stock Market crash, which resulted in his synagogue unceremoniously dumping him.
    He spent his final years in America singing Yiddish songs at movie theaters before the actual film started, in order to pay his rent and other debts.
    He turned down an offer to sing for the Chicago Opera Company, because he didn’t think it was compatible with Cantorial music.
    And, yet, he performed in an Al Jolson movie that glorified a lapsed Vaudevillian who sang ‘Mammy’ while wearing full powder ‘blackface’ makeup.
    His debt to creditors got to be so bad that he eventually took up his wife and two youngest children and moved to Palestine to pursue an entertainment career (it remains unclear if he would have found more success there).
    He was called 'the Jewish Caruso.'
    He was a child prodigy born into a long line of Cantors.
    He was known for his remarkable ability to transition from a deep baritone voice to a falsetto with seemingly no effort.
    At his peak, he enjoyed a celebrity akin to that of a rock star.
    Many of the original compositions he sang, he also wrote himself (many of which were also lost following his premature death in Palestine).
    Thomas Alva Edison said that he had the widest range of any human voice he recorded.
    Arturo Toscanini sought him out for the lead in Halévy's 'La Juive,' but he declined on religious grounds.
    He was actually sought for a lead role in 'Jazz Singer,' but he turned it down.
    Warner Brothers, however, determined to have him in the film in some form, convinced him to make a tasteful cameo in the film, singing a rendition of 'Kaddish' that moves the Jolson character.
    His appeal was so wide in the US, that he was invited to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Calvin Coolidge.
    Enrico Caruso, upon hearing his rendition of 'Elli Elli,' was so moved that he reportedly climbed the stage and kissed him afterwards.
    He and Charlie Chaplin (the era's ultimate Judeophile) were huge fans of each other's works, and scheduled a highly publicized meeting when Rosenblatt made his first trip to Hollywood.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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