How Hillel Frankel’s Father Became a Digital Music Star at Age 75
Several years ago, LSG attorney Hillel Frankel digitized the 200 songs his father, Rabbi Reuven Frankel, had recorded over the years on vinyl, cassette and CD. Now, three years after his death, Rabbi Frankel’s memory lives on, especially during the Passover season as people around the world download and stream his popular Passover songs.
Rabbi Frankel spent decades as a Rabbi and Cantor at synagogues in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and his mighty baritone won him many fans from his religious services and Jewish music concerts performed around Chicagoland. In 2008 Hillel, who earlier in his career was a saxophone and keyboard player performing with bands including Grammy-nominated Liquid Soul and Heavy Manners, digitized his father’s songs as a present to his father – and also as a bit of a test to see what the demand for Jewish music would be on iTunes.
Both Hillel and Rabbi Frankel were quite surprised to see downloads and streams from across the US, UK and Western Europe – and more recently in Eastern Europe and Russia. Every year around Passover demand spikes for Rabbi Frankel’s music. His A Sing-Along Seder has become the go-to album for many families around the world who download and stream Passover songs.
Rabbi Frankel recorded the album Family Delight – Songs for Shabbat at the famed Acme Studios in Lakeview with engineer Blaise Barton in the early 1990s, with Hillel producing the album. Barton would go on to record two Grammy-nominated recordings, including the tribute album Muddy Waters 100.
Rabbi Frankel passed away in 2013 but reveled in his role as a digital Jewish music star, carrying around an iPod filled with his music. As Alzheimer’s stole some of his ability to speak, he found great comfort in being able to listen to the music that had been such a large part of his life.