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8 Questions for Kimber Leigh Nussbaum, Vocalist, Yiddish Enthusiast, Mish Mash Soup Lover

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Kimber,  keeping your Bubbe’s Yiddish music alive 

Kimber Leigh Nussbaum, vocalist with The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, hails from Kansas City, but has lived in Chicago for more than a decade. The University of Illinois grad earned her BFA in Theater and has performed in venues all over Chicago as well as Kansas City.

This year, The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band celebrates its 25th anniversary with the release of Eight Nights of Joy, a Chanukah album featuring Rabbi Joe Black. You also can hear Kimber live at her cabaret show at the Skokie Theatre on Sunday, November 16 at 2:00 p.m.

1. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a performer... specifically, I wanted to be a cross between Ann-Margret and Chita Rivera. And at one point in my post-college-graduation-life, I wanted to move to Nashville, sing country and be a “Jewish Reba McEntire.”

2. What do you love about what you do today?
When I perform, I help to honor and keep alive beloved Yiddish music. When audience members approach me with stories of wonderful memories of this music from their parents and grandparents from back in “the Old Country,” I know I have done my job and have done it well. A woman once told me she had no idea what the title was of a song (or even how she knew it) that I had just sung. However, she said that as I was singing it, she sang along and found herself knowing every single lyric. She assumes that it must’ve been something her Bubbe used to sing to her as a little girl.

3. What are you reading?
The Evolution of Useful Things  by Henry Petroski, about the history and development of items that we all use every day but never think about how we have come to obtain them.  I just finished  Schott’s Original Miscellany  and  Schott’s Food and Drink Miscellany . Light reads but enjoyable.

4. What's your favorite place to eat in Chicago?
I am a big fan of sushi... so anywhere fresh fish can be found. If we are talking Jewish/Israeli food... how about a big bowl of Mish Mash soup from The Bagel or Chatzilim (eggplant) from Taboun.

5. If money and logistical reality played no part, what would you invent?
Automatic “free money” tellers so no one would have to beg for money for food for themselves or their children. They would simply withdraw some cash and head to their favorite restaurant. I am still working out how to make sure everyone gets a fair amount per day so there is enough to go around.

6. Would you rather have the ability to fly or the ability to be invisible?
I would choose to fly. I don't remember my dreams too often, however the ones I do remember usually include me flying. Sometimes these dreams are so intense, my body physically feels like it is truly flying. So freeing!!!

7. If I scrolled through your iPod, what guilty pleasure song would I find?
I have quite an eclectic mix... everything from Klezmer to Madonna and show tunes to the Rolling Stones. My ultimate guilty pleasure is “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers or “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones.

8. What’s your favorite Jewish thing to do in Chicago-in other words, how do you Jew?
My favorite thing “to Jew” is to perform with Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and to share Klezmer and Yiddish music with Chicago. The music touches everyone in a lovely and special manner... for Jews AND non-Jews alike!

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