Vocalist and guitarist Susan Gaeta is an important member of a new generation of musicians who are exploring the rich and varied traditions of Sephardic music. Originally from Connecticut, where her grandfather played clarinet in a Klezmer band and acted in Yiddish theater productions, Susan lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for eight years, where she performed classic jazz and traditional Argentinian folk songs.
After moving back to the United States, Susan continued her explorations in jazz and toured with legendary Sephardic singer Flory Jagoda, a National Heritage Fellow. In 2002, Susan was selected to participate in The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities “Master-Apprentice” program.
During her year-long apprenticeship, Susan began performing as a soloist, continuing Flory Jagoda’s Sephardic traditions for today’s audiences, learning songs that had been in Flory’s family for generations. “I had been singing with Flory for several years, but our formal master-apprentice relationship deepened my understanding of this unique music and my dedication to preserve it for future generations,” says Gaeta.
Susan appeared at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, the Askenazi Festival in Toronto, Canada and historic concerts in Istanbul and Sarajevo. She continues to perform as a soloist and with Howard Bass and Tina Chancey of Trio Sefardi. She is currently a Master Artist in the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities teaching and continuing Flory Jagoda’s work.
Gaeta sees herself as a creative bridge between the traditional music and its modern future.
“I’m very excited to be interpreting these age-old tunes for a new generation,” she notes. “Not only are they beautiful songs, but in many ways, they serve as the oral history of Sephardic Jews.”
Now a master herself, Susan was chosen to apprentice the beloved Charlottesville singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gina Sobel of Minnush in 2017-2018.