Last month, Six13 — a Jewish a cappella group — took the stage at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC) Plainview Elementary School for an unforgettable Chanukah concert. Using only their voices, the group performed some of their most popular songs, ranging from hilarious parodies to beautiful original versions of well-known Jewish melodies. After the show, I was able to catch up with some of the group members and find out more about Six13.
Editor’s Note: Our conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
Q: What are the group’s biggest musical influences or inspirations?
Craig Resmovits (CR): We’re all very different stylistically, and we have different influences, but I would say our sound, in general, is a capella, usually in the pop-rock genre, but definitely there are songs that are total Jewish ballads and slow stuff, and there are songs that are real rocking songs. We listen to a lot of contemporary pop and also Jewish music, so we’re getting influenced by a lot of stuff.
Eric Dinowitz (ED): What we hear a lot is that our music is original. It’s one of the things that communities all over the country and the world value about our group – we are bringing our own style and our own music to their communities. It’s not just a copy of stuff they’ve heard already.
Q: What is your favorite song to perform onstage and why?
ED: Lecha Dodi is really fun to perform. Particularly when you’re more comfortable with the song, you can have a lot more fun with it.
CR: You don’t have to think about the parts so much, it’s like second nature…
My two favorite songs to perform in Six13 concerts are Ki L’olam Chasdo and Modeh Ani. The reason Ki L’olam Chasdo is my favorite is that it’s my favorite Six13 song to listen to. And Modeh Ani because singing the background parts of that song with the other guys is really fun and we have a really good time. That song, in particular, we work together really well.
Josh Sauer (JS): I really like Ki L’olam Chasdo. It’s just an unbelievable tune. The bridge has this amazing, engaging portion, which I think is something that’s incredibly important in a show. Getting people involved, connecting them both to the music and to the message, is something we focus on a lot. For a lot of people, we’re one of the only ways that they connect with Judaism. We can engage them in something that is original, takes them out of their comfort zone, and introduces them to text in a different way, introduces them to a way to connect to Judaism differently, and I think that song really helps to complete that goal.
Q: What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever performed, and what was it like?
ED: I still think the White House. We met President Obama. It was an audience of the President, the First Lady and a Secret Service agent. It was really special to sing for the commander in chief and to engage him in our culture. Side note: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was kind of in the room, she was peeking her head in…It was cool to share those experiences and in a way represent the Jewish people, for that moment, to the President of the United States.
CR: Another really fun song to do onstage is our medley from Hamilton about Chanukah. All of the parts are so engaging and fun to sing.
JS: We knew that not only were Barack and Michelle Obama huge fans of Hamilton, but they also assisted Lin Manuel with some historical research and essentially consulted with him on it. So we scrambled to figure out how we were going to perform it live for them. As soon as we started, which, you know, has the iconic bum, ba da da, dum bum, we started with that and Michelle just turned to Barack and they looked at each other and they were like, Whoa, snap! They were dancing…it was really cool. I will never forget that look.
Q: Do you have any upcoming releases or shows?
CR: We just came out with a new video. It’s called Bohemian Chanukah, a Bohemian Rhapsody cover. We didn’t perform it at the concert today, but it has, between Facebook and Youtube, over 2 million views. So it’s been going really well. We get very excited.
JS: We just did a show in LA. We were introducing Mayim Bialik from the Big Bang Theory. Mayim Bialik is a huge Maccabeats fan, but in her post on Facebook, she said, “So usually I’m a huge Maccabeats fan, but these guys – Six13 – just killed it!” We took a picture with her right before we introduced her. She posted that to her 1.6 million followers, so that was pretty cool.
ED: We have this talk in our group about parodies vs. original music – which is more meaningful, which represents us best…But I remember my coworker was telling me yesterday, “I saw on Facebook your video, Bohemian Chanukah,” and she went down the rabbit hole of our Youtube channel, discovering our original music, our live music, and I just love that we get to do these parodies twice a year. For some people, it introduces them to different aspects of Jewish music and Jewish culture.
CR: We’re mostly known for our parodies. We love doing the parodies, and that’s really what people know us for nowadays. But I think I can speak for most of the guys when I say that doing the original songs, like Lecha Dodi, Modeh Ani, Ki L’olam Chasdo, Hanerot Halalu, Al Hanissim… we really find a lot of fulfillment doing our original music, maybe even more so than the parodies. It’s a real creative expression for us. We hope that the people who find us for the parodies stay for the originals. They can find them on iTunes and Spotify.
JS: Can you use that quote, please?
ED: ‘Original music on iTunes and Spotify – ’
JS: ‘We hope that people who find us for the parodies stay for the original music.’
CR: There’s your quote.
I would like to extend a big thank you to Francie Goldberg, HANC’s librarian and organizer of this event.
Rena Max is a sophomore at Hebrew Academy of Nassau County. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.