Arts & Culture, People

Coming to Memphis: Joshua Nelson, The Prince of Kosher Gospel

by JCPConnect-

MJCC Annual Gala

Wednesday, August 30
at the Duncan-Williams Performance Hall (Germantown Performing Arts Center)
6:45pm Reception | 7:30pm Performance


Joshua Nelson, The Prince of Kosher Gospel was born and raised Jewish and a student of Judaism, including two years at college and on a kibbutz program in Israel.  These programs clarified his understanding that throughout history, Jews have always integrated Jewish law and religious practices with the cultural context in which they lived; for example, as Nelson points out, any ethnic style of cuisine can be Jewish if it is kosher.

Upon his return from Israel, Nelson began to apply this understanding to music, beginning what has been called “a revolution in Jewish music” by combining Jewish liturgical lyrics with one of America’s best-known indigenous musical forms; thus kosher gospel music was born.  For Joshua Nelson, kosher gospel is a way to claim both parts of his identity as a Black Jew.

Larry Skolnick, CEO of the Memphis Jewish Community Center says “I met Joshua when he was an up and coming artist.  Then and now his music is inspiring, engaging and entertaining. Today people say he is one of the best known modern artists singing Jewish liturgical lyrics and I have to agree with them.”

For his audiences, whatever their faith or heritage, kosher gospel has been a revelation. Now in his early thirties, Nelson has performed around the world, for Presidents, congregations, major music festivals—and for Oprah, who named him a “Next Big Thing.”  He’s released a stellar album, Mi Chamocha, featuring collaborations with stars like Aretha Franklin and the Klezmatics, and served as the subject of the acclaimed documentary film “Keep on Walking.”

Stacy and Josh Sanderson and Debra and Alex Saharovich, Co-Chairs of the 2017 Gala are thrilled Joshua Nelson is headlining the 2017 Gala.  Both the Sanderson’s and Saharovich’s say “Joshua’s uniqueness of combining his Jewish and African-American heritage into a style of Jewish meaning and gospel sounds makes his music entertaining for all.”

Nelson also passes on this musical gift as an artist in residence at Jewish congregations across the country, including at his home synagogue of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, a Reform congregation in South Orange, New Jersey where he taught Hebrew School for 15 years. Whatever the venue, Joshua Nelson, the Prince of Kosher Gospel, brings people—and cultures—together in joyous song.

For tickets to the Joshua Nelson concert visit the MJCC’s website and for sponsorship information contact Norris Marcus, Development Director, Memphis Jewish Community Center, 6560 Poplar Ave. Memphis, TN 38138 901-767-0180 or

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