As a songwriter, Chayala Neuhaus says, “I leave a piece of myself on each of my compositions”
Like her previous two albums in the Miracles series, songwriter CHAYALA NEUHAUS’s latest release, MIRACLES 3, consists of another ten original English compositions, with her hit single “A Yid,” released last year with singer Benny Friedman, making a welcome reappearance as the eleventh track. The album’s featured vocalist is child soloist Gavriel Pelcovitz, with a guest appearance by Benny Friedman for the contemplative ballad “Odeh.”
Chayala says most of the themes of her songs originated as personal reflections or challenges, but the album brings them into the public realm, where they can be appreciated by and touch the hearts of a broad audience. As a songwriter, she says, “I leave a piece of myself on each of my compositions.” But while each song might contain a message, under Doni Gross’s musical production, all that contemplation and chizuk is wrapped in a package of listening pleasure.
One example is the song “Hodu Lashem”: “Not sure sometimes if I want to laugh or cry / Cuz life feels so uneasy.... / Stop the world for a minute / maybe more / cuz there are such nice touches in it / I have so much to be grateful for.” Chayala composed this to capture the emotional dichotomy of overwhelm on one hand and blessing on the other.
“I once posed the following question to several people: ‘If you could write a song now, what would you say?’ and the responses were spread all the way from laughter to tears,” she says. “In the end, though, my conclusion was that we can’t be any less than grateful.” The song feels very relatable, as well as reflective of the past few turbulent years.
Covid raged throughout the spring of 2020, and many looked toward the summer for a breath of normality and relief from the harsh lockdowns. When summer came though, one of Chayala’s close friends, an energetic and devoted camp director, was hospitalized with a critical case of the virus. Chayala had written the camp song “Chazak” (Track 1), an upbeat track embedded with messages of resilience, and the song not only rocked the camp but became a real source of strength throughout the challenge.
Another song of hope is “Broken Heart,” which speaks to the fears of the Jew who feels that his difficulty in speaking the words of the prayers is an impediment to their acceptance. (Don’t we all often feel that way?) The innocence of the child’s vocals reassures that Hashem is listening “when I can’t find the words.” After all, we are all His children, and even our silent cries are heard.
“For me, one of the diamonds on the album is ‘Eichah,’ which offers a very poignant glimpse into the bitterness of our loss of Yerushalayim and the Beis Hamikdash,” says producer Doni Gross. “We’ve all seen that Chayala’s songs have been reaching further over the last couple of years, with the eager reception of 'A Yid' and 'Hold on Tight,' so I was honored to produce Miracles 3. It’s an unusual gift to be able to write such strong, catchy melodies together with profound English lyrics, for a direct hit to the heart of the listener.”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 914)