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Laura Elkeslassy is a singer, actor and educator based in Brooklyn. Born and raised in France, with Moroccan and Israeli roots, Laura blends Judeo-Arab, Middle Eastern, and Andalusian repertoires in her music. Her work focuses on reclaiming Moroccan Jewish liturgical traditions and North African folk music from a feminist standpoint.
In 2019, Laura began researching Maqam (Arabic music theory) and stumbled onto a treasure trove of profound family truths. Laura’s ongoing journey of self-discovery–which includes forgotten ancestors, wild synchronicities found in dusty old bookstores, and the reclaiming of a lost family name–is the inspirational heart of her recent release, the multimedia project Ya Ghorbati: Divas in Exile.
Developed in collaboration with musical director Ira Khonen Temple, Ya Ghorbati weaves together the stories of Judeo-Arab divas from the last century with original recordings and new performances of folk and sacred music.
Laura has performed music at countless venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, the World Music Institute and has taught sacred as well as folk music across the country. She was a lead singer of the NY Andalus Ensemble & ASEFA for 5 years. In the theater, she has worked at the National Opera of Paris, the Venice Film Festival, La MaMa ETC, and beyond. As a spiritual leader, Laura has been active in developing egalitarian Sephardi practice in New York, Boston and Paris over the last fours years.
Laura holds an MFA in Acting from Columbia University and is a multiple-time recipient of Rise Up! Fellowships, New Jewish Culture Fellowship, Rising Leader Fellowship with the Open Society Foundation. In 2022, Laura was selected as one of New York Jewish Week’s 36 to Watch.
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