Testimonials, Comments, Reviews
PASSAGES and A STEADFAST BRIDGE: Reviewed by Cathy DeWitt, Positive Music Association, April 2011
Joy Katzen-Guthrie is one of those rare players who is equally accomplished as both a pianist and a vocalist. Her voice is warm, expressive and personal, occasionally even reminiscent of Barbra Streisand, and her piano playing is excellent. This eclectic singer/songwriter shows her versatility on her CD release, “Passages.” It opens with an upbeat call to action, Be Yourself, driven by Tim Diehl’s rockin’ percussion, and ends with the celebratory, positive message of “Passages”. Although infused with a pop sensibility, the album comfortably crosses back and forth between musical genres.
A couple of my personal favorites are “Good Friends, Good Times and Good Music,” a Carole King-ish tribute to friendship and fun, and the moving love song to a child, “Every Day More Love”, which includes a lovely guitar solo from Brad Carlton. “Time Out” and “Freeway of Life” take different approaches to the busy-ness of our lives. Everyone can relate to “Sweet Friend, Dear Friend”, a song that asks a departed loved one, “Are you crying in the darkness, or floating on a cloud…are you singing to the angels?” “Make This Journey” is an earnest prayer to our Higher Power to help make us the best we can be, and “In Our Hands” reminds us that in this world it is really up to us. Joy Katzen Guthrie’s “Passages” is a musical journey worth taking.
A Steadfast Bridge is probably the most spiritual and personal of Joy Katzen Guthrie’s albums. Katzen-Guthrie and her friends are excellent musicians. It begins with a beautiful piano prelude that moves seamlessly into “I Am in Love” and “Crossroads.” “Heaven Waits,” a call to wake up, get out there and experience heaven right here and now, will have you tapping your toes. “Gifts to Give” is lighthearted, with a lilting flute counterpart. “Sometimes You’ve Just Gotta Cry” is a lovely song of comfort. “Sister of My Heart” and the surprising “The Flag” show the beauty and range of Joy's voice. “Forgive Me” will bring every listener to tears and “A Steadfast Bridge” brings comfort and stability. Two more beautiful ballads, “Let God” and “Unending Love” lead to the closing song, Joy’s uplifting, upbeat and updated version of the familiar gospel song, “Every Time I Feel the Spirit.”
Joy and Mark I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of too many events, if any, that I have been involved with where the actual event greatly exceeded expectations. But that is exactly what happened last night. There were a few bright lights for me amongst the crowd of people who worked on the show and you two were the brightest. I particularly appreciated that you were on time for meetings.
Joy the success of the evening was completely dependent on your musical leadership. Because of your involvement, I had no worries going in to the event, and you did not disappoint. Mark the sound was terrific. It’s a difficult room acoustically but you made it seem like Carnegie Hall.
So thanks for your help in our evening. It was a huge success.
Marty Port, Organizer, Shalom Moshe Tribute Event
Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Tampa, Florida, February 2011
Joy Katzen-Guthrie has the kind of talent and skill that positive music needs. She brings such joy and finesse to her work, I always feel so good listening to her songs. I am grateful to have met her, she is a light for creative brilliance with class in a growing music industry. ~Lisa Firestone, http://lisafirestone.com/
When I think of Joy Katzen-Guthrie and the Jewish experiences we have shared, my first thought is that Joy is well named ... her music, her personality, her entire presence brings joy and happiness to those who are privileged to share her company. I have had the opportunity to work alongside Joy in several capacities. As rabbi and cantor, Joy and I shared the bimah on several occasions, and I recall how, when our congregation knew that Joy would be joining us, there wasn't an empty seat in the shul! Why? Because Joy not only performed for us, but she involved us in her music. Each experience with Joy, every service where she sang, was a journey filled with Yiddishkeit, warmth and love. Although we didn't know it at the time because we were so moved by Joy's magnificent voice and so involved with her in the service, always we were learning from Joy.
And speaking of Jewish journeys, I had the great honor of working with Joy during our China tour together. Through Joy's eyes we saw China through Jewish eyes and we were able to place historical events and current happenings in a brand new personal context, thanks to Joy's preparation, explanation and guidance. I have lovely memories of the service we conducted together for the Jewish community at their Reconstructionist congregation in Beijing. Taking the Torah Scroll from its intricately designed Chinese lacquered Ark was an experience I will always remember, thanks to Joy's moving singing of ancient melodies in that ancient land.
Joy Katzen-Guthrie is a consummate performer, but more than that, she is a person with exquisite talent, dedication and character. When I hear her voice and, maybe more so, when I share an experience with her, Joy never fails to touch my heart.
Rabbi Barbara Aiello, Synagogue Ner Tamid del Sud - Serrastretta Italy
The first active synagogue in Calabria in 500 years
IjCCC - the Italian Jewish Cultural Center of Calabria
Joy Katzen-Guthrie has been the guest presenter at our church several times, giving the Sunday lesson and providing all the music, as well. Our congregation gets very excited each time they hear Joy will be with us again. All her presentations are unique and suited to the occasion. She participated in our Interfaith Month and shared the history of Judaism with lively music and intriguing stories. She has also presented holiday programs for us with her own special lightness. She is well-versed in Unity principles and knows every hymn specific to our church. She is a marvel at the piano. She has a beautiful voice and a bubbly, energetic personality. Her presentations are honed to perfection with a spirit of love, enthusiasm and humor and delivered in a masterful way. Joy is truly a gifted musician and speaker.
What more can I say? Joy is a joy! I highly recommend her to you.
Dear Joy, Just wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying your beautiful music and beautiful messages on the CD's that I bought from you at the Unity Church in Ocala, FL. You are truly a beautiful soul with a gift from God who shares with others. You touch my heart with your song; I wish that I had bought more of your CDs. Namaste, Ninette Ste. Claire, LMT
Dear Joy, So enjoyed the concert you gave for the MARSP group ... I purchased your CD "A Steadfast Bridge." I want to send one as a gift to a dear friend in New York. I purchased it because "Sister of My Heart" is on it ... then you blindsided me with "Forgive Me," as I lost my husband so suddenly last July. My friend is a vibrant woman now battling cancer. She has a friend who has been a sister to her, walking every step of the way with her ... I know many of the songs on your CD would be supportive for her. She is a Jew ... I am a Christian, as is the sister of her heart. None of this matters except your music has touched me so deeply ... no gaps, man. Thank you so much, Barbara Alter, St. Petersburg, FL
Dear Joy, On Behalf of the Boards of Directors of the Augusta Jewish Federation and Community Center, I would like to thank you for your wonderful performance. Everyone who had the privilege of attending your concert was enchanted. The stories, the memories, the insights into the music, together with your gifted rendition of English, Yiddish, and Hebrew songs, made for an unforgettable afternoon. As I mentioned to you then, since you took us on a musical journey through 1939, we look forward to your return. Then we hope to continue our discovery, through you, of our wonderful musical heritage.
Leah Ronen, Executive Director
Augusta Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Center
Dear Joy, You are so aptly named! I know you must hear that all the time, but what a wonderful compliment to get so often! Your work at the Big Sky Retreat was exemplary. You played beautifully, you sang beautifully, you spoke beautifully, but way more than that, your very presence was beautiful. I do so appreciate your willingness to do whatever was necessary to make the moment right. I could not have asked for more. Thank you very, very much.
Joe Dickey, Simi Valley, CA
Big Sky Retreat
Dear Joy, Let me take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of our entire staff and our volunteers for the wonderful performance you gave at this year's Jewish Family Services Volunteer Recognition Luncheon at the Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland. Everyone went home feeling really good that day. Your voice is beautiful; we could have listened to your songs and the stories behind them for hours! Thanks so much for working with us to make this special day complete for our volunteers. Enclosed is a photo of you on stage. A framed version of it is in my office!
Marcia R. Greenfield
Assistant Coordinator, JFS Volunteer Services, Baltimore, MD
What comes to mind when you think of Joy Katzen-Guthrie? Easy. Renaissance Woman. Kind of like a modern day Wonder Woman. It is hard to imagine anyone more creative, giving, productive, talented and educated in a variety of subjects. She has made a significant contribution to the Jewish community as Cantorial soloist for congregations in the Tampa, Gainesville, Sarasota and Orlando areas for the past 14 years, as well as presenting talks and musical performances for synagogues and organizations throughout Florida and around the country for more than 20 years, sharing her knowledge and talent for Jewish music and heritage.
She has created one of the most impressive web sites on the internet, sourcing many things Jewish, especially the Jewish communities of Alaska, Australia, and China. Her interest in Judaism is deep and wide ranging, from Kabalah to an intimate knowledge of the History of the Jewish people, enough to have led 5 tours to China. Her most recent creation is a 3-day Celebration of Cultures Event involving Chinese and Jewish musicians, speakers, and professors from the Jewish Center of Jewish Studies in Shanghai, scheduled for October 2004.
She has produced a number of albums that reflect her positive philosophy built on her belief in people. Her passion for life is expressed in a number of ways: songwriter, singer/performer, scholar, lecturer and public speaker, teacher of various musical and spiritual subjects. Her knowledge of Asian religions and their comparison to Judaism is specific and deep. These are only a few of the reasons why she is a woman to watch. All this aside, we are talking about the female equivalent of a “mensch” on steroids. Simply, a very kind, loving, beautiful human being. That’s Joy.
Stephen Levin, Travel and Marketing Consultant
Regent China Tours and Regent Marketing Group, Treasure Island, FL 33706
"Enlightening," "Provocative," "A Renaissance Woman, "Engrossing," these are a sampling of the glowing evaluatios that joy Katzen-Guthrie has received from the student members of USF Learning in Retirement. I met Joy in the fall of 2003 after she soke for one of our classes on the USF campus. The students who heard her rushed up to me after her presentation and said, "Joseph, you must get this woman to teach for us." Fortunately she has and our organization has prospered as a result. Joy has taught courses on the history of American Music in the 20th Century; Music Therapy and the History of China. She has been a deight to work with. She is gracious, brilliant, courteous, compassionate, accomplished and even punctual. She is consistently one of our highest rated teachers. She posseses so many positive charactere qualities and talents that perhaps what distinguihes her most is her versatility. Without a shred of equivocation, I heartily commend this outstanding individual to you.
USF Senior Programs Coordinator, Tampa, FL
This letter is an introduction to one of the most versatile, inspiring, and gifted musicians it has been our pleasure to know. Joy Katzen-Guthrie has been our Music Director for the past 6 years. During that time we have been blessed by her many talents as a powerful and creative songwriter, an inspired accomplished performer, an articulate speaker, and a knowledeable person on many subjects. Joy has performed a variety of concerts for our people, presented Sunday talks that hold people spellbound, taught in-depth classes on subjects such as the ancient religions of Asia, and has proven herself to be a dependable and tireless worker. Her latest achievement was creating our Third Thursdays here at Unity Center For Today, which consists of various musicians, groups, and visual artists from the greater community performing their own works in a café setting. Our first season has been a smashing success with three powerful acts each month. Her weekly presentations consist of a wide variety of music, many her own creation which weave our New Thought message into music meshing beautifully with our theme for the day. Her rich voice and musical skill on the keyboard and delightful presence combine to be a blessing to all who hear her."
Rev.'s Bob & Ruth Fatur
Unity Center For Today, Tampa, FL
Dear Joy, On behalf of the Young Leadership Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, we want to thank you for your outstanding presentation about the Jews of China. Yours was the second in our series of four programs called "Jews Around the World." Your presentation and slide show were extremely interesting and you were most knowledgeable about your topic. The entire series received rave reviews due to our very excellent speakers. It was a pleasure to have you here with us.
Carlos Berner, Chairman, YLC Spring Education Series
Marsha Kolman, Director, Young Leadership Department
Greater Miami Jewish Federation
Dear Joy, It is so nice to have this opportunity to thank you again for your outstanding presentation to my Silk Road course for USF LIR Institute. The entire course went fabulously, with you setting the most exciting and highest standard at your presentation. Enclosed is a formal "thank you" page that was distributed to the entire class and is being sent to presenters and helpers outside the class.
Instructor, USF LIR Institute
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES: 'YOUR PEOPLE' OFFERS PLEASANT, UPLIFTING STORY
by John Fleming, Times Performing Arts Critic, ©2001 St. Petersburg Times.
ST. PETERSBURG Your People Are Mine is like a Jewish summer camp show, with its hummable tunes and uplifting story from the biblical book of Ruth. The musical by St. Petersburg cantor Shimon Gewirtz (book and lyrics) and his sister Gladys Gewirtz-Hedaya (music and lyrics), was performed in a Sunday matinee at the Palladium Theater. The cast featured not only cantor Gewirtz in two parts, but also four cantorial soloists from the area: Sharon Reaboi and her husband, Colman Reaboi, in the leading roles of Ruth and Boaz, Joy Katzen-Guthrie as Naomi and Bonnie Whitehurst as Queen Egla. Wisely, Gewritz and company performed the piece in a concert version, with music stands and microphones, thus avoiding having to try to stage the undramatic play ... Musically, highlights included Will Someone Tell Me, a duet of solidarity and farewell by Sharon Reaboi and Suzanne Rae Lewis; and the scene at the end of Act One when Reaboi sang of Ruth's loyalty. Katzen-Guthrie brought a little of the matchmaking zeal of Fiddler on the Roof to Naomi's advice to Ruth on how to land Boaz, Go to Him This Evening. Colman Reaboi has a richly operatic bass, which he put to thrilling use in Boaz's songs ... A CD of Your People are Mine is available for $15 plus $1.50 for handling and mailing from S. Gewirtz, 7020 Mango Ave., S., St. Petersburg, FL 33707.
WEEKLY PLANET: Best of the Bay 2000, September 21-27, 2000
Weekly Planet's annual reader's choice issue, with Best of the Bay picks
including Food, Goods and Services, and Arts & Entertainment, ©2000 Weekly Planet
FULL REVIEW: CRITIC'S CHOICE: BEST RELIGIOUS MUSIC
Joy Katzen-Guthrie, www.JoyfulNoise.net
In June, Katzen-Guthrie led her first Jewish Heritage Tour of China, and that was just the latest adventure for this Palm Harbor-based singer/composer/musician/webmaster. She also puts out her own e-newsletter (to document all her activities -- whew!), runs a professional recording studio with her husband and has seven recordings of original and spiritual music, available through her Web site or at a number of diverse retailers, from the Florida Holocaust Museum and Clearwater's Temple B'nai Israel, to Planet Grooves and Sam Goody. The music on Katzen-Guthrie's 1999 disc, Passages, runs the gamut from traditional Judaica to a eulogy for Marvin Gaye, and her words are uplifting and inspiring, but rarely preachy. Her lovely voice has earned her consistent appearances as High Holy Days cantorial soloist throughout Florida, and since Passover 2000, she has been the year-round soloist for B'nai Israel, which boasts Tampa Bay's largest (Jewish) congregation. Katzen-Guthrie's performances -- featuring liturgical music of the Jewish Kabbalists, Israeli and Yiddish folk tunes, musical stage and film works, storytelling and original songs -- take place at shuls, churches, community centers, restaurants and bookstores. She is truly a gifted musician and a wonderful example of what spirituality and faith can mean in the 21st century.
The Tampa Tribune: Review by Jennifer Barrs
* * * This Bay area resident has a powerful, righteous warble. Her pictures appear on this CD, first as a youngster peeking from beneath a baby blanket to that full-frontal grin on a 5-year-old face to a long, learned look from the front of her compilation disc. Wonder may be displayed on that face. But it is wisdom delivered by a confident voice that makes this album such a proud, professional triumph - which, when you realize that she is a full-time performer, writer, and music producer, comes as absolutely no surprise. The music here is full of personal revelation and celebratory wonder, but it is refreshingly happy in its absolutes. And groovy, too. Hold it, a happy album? When was the last time you heard one of those? Free of angst, minus preachy platitudes, Katzen-Guthrie manages what so few singers do - to make you feel hopeful without being weighed down by sickly sentiment. She sings her anthems softly, mixed in with groovy guitars, cool cellos and all sorts of other instruments, showcasing a voice that has rare sing-along quality. Yes, you can imagine her in front of a congregation of folksy truth tellers. Or on a Broadway stage. She can kick it up ("Freeway of Life"), and lay it down ("Sweet Friend, Dear Friend"). Her music and message also has found its way into a national educational program called "Of Musical Note." It's clearly no surprise she received a grant from the Pinellas County Arts Council in 1997. Now the question is: Where's that major label record contract? ~Jennifer Barrs
G21 PowerSound Magazine (http://www.g21.net/ps43.html)
by Bob Powers
"Inspiring Sounds: Florida resident Joy Katzen-Guthrie has a wonderful singing voice, light and joyous, and she performs an unusual program of original inspirational music in her latest CD, "Passages" (Tune of the Century Music). The album is well-paced and the songs are unerring in their uplifting messages. Katzen-Guthrie has been performing in the Southeast for 17 years. She's unquestionably ready to reach out to a bigger audience."
Bay Area Connection: LOCAL RECORDING ARTIST JOY KATZEN-GUTHRIE RELEASES NEW CD PASSAGES
by Eileen Raymond.
Joy Katzen-Guthrie has just released her new CD Passages, laced with some of the most meaningful lyrics in the contemporary world of music, and topped off by a potent, tender, supple, and darn remarkable voice. Guthrie's style is all her own, and Passages is presented as a journey through this artist's life. "Everything I have done over the years has led me to this expression of my life's work," she says. "It felt natural to name the album Passages, since it not only represents one more passage in my life, but is a culmination of every passage I have lived up to now."
As a "woman of many voices," Katzen-Guthrie believes her music easily falls into many categories. While she feels it necessary to define oneself in order to market one's music effectively, she prefers to let each person individually evaluate her songs and performances. Passages may be the story of Katzen-Guthrie's life, but let it be noted that most will be able to relate personally. Songs the likes of "Be Yourself," and "Woman to Woman" and "Good Friends, Good Times," and "Passages" etch out clear messages. Positive messages of what can be good and meaningful in this existence. And these brilliant messages confirm our affiliation with the power behind the voice.
Focus Entertainment Magazine ~ January 21, 1999
JOY KATZEN-GUTHRIE: PASSAGES
Katzen-Guthrie is a very familiar entertainer around these parts, with nearly a decade of performing as a song stylist with four previous releases. As suggested by the title, Passages is a musical scrapbook of Katzen-Guthrie's songwriting, with a selection of previously penned tunes (some dating back to 1982), newly arranged and recorded for Passages in the supportive company of Diehl and Carlton. While some of her earlier work took on a feminist stance that was de riguer for the period, her writing is relatively free of the syrupy, "Dear Diary" sharings that permeate other singer/songwriters' work mislabeled as introspective. Katzen-Guthrie uses simple, direct language and soothing melodies to describe the complex feelings of found love ("Very First Love Song"), lost love ("Lora"), and the growth of spirituality (as in the album's title cut, perhaps her strongest work). Her playing and singing have never sounded stronger or more convincing, which should help capture the imagination of a few more fans. (contact P.O. Box 1257, Palm Harbor, FL 34682-1257, (727) 785-4568, http://www.JoyfulNoise.net).
DETROIT JEWISH NEWS: LISTEN UP
Detroit Jewish Jews, reviewed by Elizabeth Applebaum
How Good and How Pleasant: Sabbath Prayer in Song
Seasons of Joy: The Jewish Year in Song
The Heart of Ancient Promise
RATING: 4 Hearts
This is a pleasant series of tapes by a singer with a wonderful voice. The best among them is The Heart of Ancient Promise, a collection of mostly Yiddish songs that are so charming, so heartfelt, it's enough to make anyone nostalgic - even those born long after the numbers were popular. The other two tapes feature familiar (and a few are not-so-familiar) songs from the holidays and Shabbat...What these latter two tapes can do is serve as excellent teaching tools. If you've always wanted to learn Jewish religious songs, but were afraid to ask, buy these tapes and sing along with Joy...her voice couldn't be more lovely. **** (4 hearts)
JAM Magazine (West Coast Edition)
How Good and How Pleasant - ***1/2 (3 & 1/2 stars)
by Bill Templeton
If the idea of tackling 27 Judaic hymns, 16 century Kabbalistic prayers, and medieval metaphysical song/poems, seems like a challenging idea to you, you're not alone. But performance/ recording artist Joy Katzen-Guthrie's third release of Yiddish and Hebrew musics, How Good and How Pleasant, makes the inevitable cultural gap not only tolerable, but downright entrancing. Blessed with a powerfully serene voice, these ancient prayers - backed only by Katzen-Guthrie's lilting harp-like keyboard - possess a simple and beautiful magnificence. The fact that she's willing to demystify the language and meaning behind the material in her extensive liner notes makes the endeavor all the more meaningful and enjoyable for the uninitiated. Contact: P.O. Box 1257, Palm Harbor, FL 34682-1257 (727) 785-4568.
Last month the preschool and elementary students at World of Knowledge received a rare gift. A gift of love, talent, humor and diversity. A Montessori School prides itself on being a culturally diverse group. Ms. Joy Katzen-Guthrie and her group provided, in two distinctly different programs, the opportunity to explore culture beyond the limit of four walls. These three musicians managed to mesmerize each diverse group to become a “one world, one people consciousness.” We were all enchanted. It is our sincerest hope that all students be allowed to experience and grow through this delightful cultural experience.
Founder and Directress of World of Knowledge Montesorri Academy
1935 Abacus Road, Holiday, FL, (727) 934-3028
Jam Entertainment News ~ JOY KATZEN-GUTHRIE: New State of Mind
by Rex Havok, Jam Entertainment News,
Singer-composer-keyboardist Joy Katzen-Guthrie has a gift--whether or not you'll appreciate it is the question. The songs included on this tape range from experimental (the title track is kind of a middle-of-the-road Laurie Anderson) to simple and heartfelt to catchy melodic pop to Broadway-style. Joy is an excellent singer. Her voice is expressive and moving, flexible and powerful. As a songwriter, her songs bear the mark of craftsmanship. They're very personal, dealing with relationships and emotions. The craftsmanship shows in choice of words, in the arrangements and the melodic lines. It's the very craftsmanship that gives many of the songs the feel of Broadway tunes or standards. The songs shine, and Joy's voice is enjoyable. New State of Mind isn't for rock or contemporary pop fans, but people who are into mellow adult contemporary will probably find most of the tracks enjoyable.
Players Magazine ~ Joy Katzen-Guthrie with Wimmin on the Edge
Since reloacting to the Bay area from Memphis, Joy Katzen-Guthrie has built a sizeable following around Tampa. Her original compositions, which combine influences of classical, jazz and rock, are honest and straightforward. Katzen-Guthrie is noted for her highly capable keyboard abilities as well as her passionate vocals. Joy performs her original songs and relevant covers with a quartet of top Bay area-based musicians, including bassist/percussionist Maa-She, guitarist Paul Buzine, drummer Turk Nelson, and woodwinds player Doug DeHays. Opening the evening's performance is the Pinellas-based trio Wimmin on the Edge, who perform selections from their impressive Herstory cassette. The trio's sound is an amalgam of folk, country, blues and rock that's notable for both its musical and lyrical depth. Their songs celebrate the feminine spirit without resorting to male-bashing. Trax, 1430 E. 7th Ave., Ybor City, 9 p.m.
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