Musician, author, scholar and music producer Ben Sidran has been a major force in the history of jazz and popular music for a half century and, since publication of his landmark history of Jews in American popular music, "There Was A Fire: Jews, Music and The American Dream", he has traveled throughout the United States, giving midrash performances that include songs, stories, history, philosophy and more, at the Skirball in Los Angeles, the Museum of Jewish History in New York and dozens of events in between.
Ten years in the making, "There Was A Fire: Jews, Music and The American Dream" was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and is Sidran's response to the fact that there was not a single work that comprehensively covered the participation of Jews in American popular music. It struck him as odd that a group never exceeding 2% of the population seemed to contribute 80% of the American songbook. Ben realized that he could write that book. He had no idea it would take 10 years.
Sidran says, "Along the way I learned a lot and in the end I think I was able to unravel the mystery that is the interaction of popular music in America and the Jewish penchant for social justice, and also answer some key questions, like Who is a Jew in America? What is Jewish about popular music in America? and What's the prognosis for the future?”