Elana Greenspan - composer, lyricist, guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, egoist, recording ar-teest
Elana Greenspan was born Alexa Lichtenstein to a secular, Jewish family in Jericho, LI. (Okay, now I'm gonna stop pretending somebody else is writing about me and write in first person, 'kay?) After graduating from SUNY Binghamton, I changed my name legally to Alexa Witt (a family name), worked for the literary agency Writers House, and published a children's book with Simon & Schuster, IT'S GREAT TO SKATE, an easy guide to inline skating. Check out the book here!
I was living in Manhattan, skating to work every day, and playing guitar and singing in downtown clubs and bars at night. Secretly, I had always wanted to get married and have a family, but it was considered lame at the time to state that as a goal. You had to be focussed only on fame and career and acquisitions, like all the writers, artists, musicians, actors and dancers I hung out with. I wanted fame and career, too, but not without a family to share it with and make life more meaningful.
When I found out about Torah living, I was part blown away, part resistant, like any proud, secular Jew. But when I saw how smart the Torah lifestyle is, how so obviously not engineered by humans who would naturally make things self-serving, it caused me to put aside my defensiveness and really look into it. I learned with a chevrusa (learning partner) and asked all my pointed questions. I experienced Shabbes, its beauty and peace, and came to see the restrictions as a gateway to serenity and freedom -- to being a spiritual, strong Jewish woman with everything to be proud of. Hurray for Torah!
I spent a year in Israel learning at Nishmat. To try out performing for women-only audiences, I started Women's Open Mike Night at the historic Pargod Theatre in Nahlaot, Jerusalem. The show was a hit -- over 100 women at every performance, 30+ performers getting on stage. Off-shoots of Women's Open Mike Night are still going on in Baltimore, Jerusalem, South Africa....
I got my master's degree in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan University. (Check out this article I wrote for Aish.com! And another! And another!) Now I live in Passaic, NJ. I perform all over for women, most frequently at the mother-baby post-partum hotels in Monroe, NY and Monsey, NY. These places are a trip, and the women so appreciative of musical entertainment that also makes them laugh. At times, I will have a paid gig every week, quite a feat for a performer who sings for women-only audiences!
Summers, I've worked at Camp Raninu, Camp Sternberg,and Camp Dina directing drama and music. I got into video as a natural expression of music in the visual dimension. I love to help other people achieve their creative goals, too, by taking on clients in my recording studio, by writing songs for people, and producing their videos. I am so, so grateful for this creativity, and daven for more opportunities to expand my career.
Whoo hoo! Thanks for reading this to the end -- you're awesome! Wanna be my friend?