About Wild Ruby
Wild Ruby perform delicious songs from the oral tradition of the Sephardim,
whose ancestors lived in the Iberian peninsula during the Spanish Golden
Age. The lush music and piquant stories resonate with the sounds and
textures of the Spanish, Jewish, Moorish, Greek, French and Turkish
cultures. The result is a sumptuous mix of sounds and textures hinting the
unique history of each song.
Since 2004 Wild Ruby has been promoting Sephardic songs with a passion equal
to the passion of the songs themselves. Singer Karen Kay and accompanist
Andrew Kay present each song as both a story and as a musical experience,
making them thoroughly accessible to any audience.
The complex history of the tradition means that the songs are full of
surprises. In more than one we can hear elements of the Rapunzel story of
Northern Europe: a girl locked in a tower uses only her wits (and her long
hair) to allow her lover to visit her. Kings and Queens suffer problems of
life, unrequited love and lineage. Bored housewives dally with local
tradesmen. Two-timing husbands find home life not so cosy. Though intense
and passionate it's all done in good taste, with poetic language and clever
double-entendre – innocents will be none the wiser after hearing them. Which
is surely what you'd expect from a family tradition.
Each story is performed in English, bringing the audience to the song, which
is sung in the traditional Ladino. This language has, like its speakers,
travelled from Judeo-Spanish, collecting words throughout the Mediterranean
Wild Ruby has enjoyed arranging the songs, inspired and guided by the wild
magic of the melodies and lyrics. They are proud to be keeping the creative
Karen found herself by chance at a Sephardic concert in 1998 and fell
instantly in love with the music. Since then she has studied the songs and
sung them in all kinds of settings, forming the duo Wild Ruby with her
husband Andrew, who accompanies her on viola da gamba, flutes and dumbek.
The range of bowed, plucked, beaten and blown sounds give a varied and
sensual backdrop to the singing.
Wild Ruby was recorded by the BBC in April 2009. They also have a CD
of Sephardic songs called Saffron and Sapphire.