FEBRUARY 22, 2018 – Vered Benhorin will bring a set of soothing and family-friendly songs when she performs with her musical partner Rob Jost at 10:30 a.m. on March 10 at the Cabot Theater in Beverly.
“I have always loved to sing,” Vered said. And yet, even in college, Vered considered her music no more than a hobby.
“I was actually doing fine arts at the time,” she said. “But I took a couple of vocal jazz classes and was hooked.”
Vered taught herself guitar so that she could accompany herself. “I quickly figured out that jazz tunes are quite difficult to play,” she said, explaining the impetus for her own songwriting. Eventually, she developed a catalog and recorded three acclaimed albums with a band.
In graduate school, Vered continued to play, but the music began to take a bit of a back seat to her psychological studies (which were admittedly inspired by her parents, both of whom are psychologists).
“I grew up feeling very comfortable with the idea of the unconscious and looking beyond the surface in order to understand people’s motives and desires,” Vered said. “But it wasn’t until I decided to merge music with psychology and pursue music therapy that it really spoke to me.”
For 10 years, Vered played music at night and studied music therapy and clinical psychology during the day. “Music comes from a very deep and emotional place,” she observed. She cited singing as “a way to access those tiny knots in a more immediate way.”
While studying with Dr. Arietta Slade, professor emerita in the doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at the City University of New York and Clinical Professor at the Yale Child Study Center, Vered began to explore the special bonds that form between babies and their parents (particularly their mothers). Pregnant at the time, Vered had all the more reason to show particular interest in this topic.
“I had a baby at home the exact age of those being discussed,” Vered explained, “[so] the material from class was bound to hit me in a personal way.”
And while she was interested in pursuing a career in psychology, when her child was born, that pursuit took on a more musical mien.
“All of my efforts and talents culminated into one project that felt right,” she added. “The subject matter of my songs shifted from heartbreak and independence to my experience as a mom and what I imagined to be my baby’s experience.”
Since this turn of personal and professional events, Vered has recorded two more albums and is currently working on a third. Along the way, she has been developing an organization that brings all of her passions and talents together.
“The benefits of music are intuitive,” Vered said. “Music is a natural endorphin – it makes us feel good. It bypasses intellectual thought and directly connects us to our emotions. It can make us feel playful and spontaneous, and tender and soulful, sometimes simultaneously. It has been shown to lower stress levels.”
Half-Israeli, Vered has fond recollections of singing Hebrew at home and also in shul. She connects with the sadness of the minor melodies that Jewish music tends to have, and observes that, “when I’m in a religious setting I connect to the music more than anything else.”
Many of her shows tend to take on a “Jewish slant” through which she includes traditional tunes and injects them with family-friendly fun. When asked about other influences, Vered names such stars as Simon and Garfunkel, Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday and added that she continues to be inspired by fellow music makers “who were always working to perfect their craft.”
Her own pursuit of improvement has resulted in recognition from Creative Child Magazine, National Parenting Publications, Parents Choice, and the Independent Music Awards. What truly matters to Vered, however, is her unique combination of music and mind.
“My goal is to help parents feel more playful with their babies, more confident in their parenting, and more joyful,” she said. “Encouraging connection between parents and their babies makes for happier and more satisfied parents.”