Cantor Richard Berlin has always been proud of his daughter. In fact, she is the one who inspired him to become the person he is today.
“Liz is my hero,” the cantor of Parkway Jewish Center said of his daughter, Liz Berlin. “She gave me the courage to go to the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and become a cantor.”
Liz is in the band Rusted Root, which started here in Pittsburgh. Currently Berlin and her fellow band members are on a U.S. tour.
“I’ve been singing since I was a baby,” Liz said. When she was younger, she and her sister Katie performed and sang many times in her father’s cantorial choir.
“My first public performance was with my sister when we were four or five,” said Berlin, who noted that her entire family was a big influence. “They got me singing in the first place.”
Rusted Root was formed after Liz and lead male vocalist Michael Glabicki met in high school. “We used to play together,” she said. “In college we decided to form the band.”
The name Rusted Root came just a few hours before the band’s performance at the Graffiti Rock Challenge in Oakland. “We all sat around all night and came up with the name Rusted Root,” she recalled.
In addition to being a member of Rusted Root, Liz has also released two solo albums under her own name.
“Rusted Root has most of the songs written by Michael,” said Berlin. “The musical diversity, both lyrically and musically are very interesting. All of my songs are written by me.”
Her mother, who used to sing to Liz and her sister when they were children, sang a song on one of her albums, “Evening Prayer.”
The band’s upcoming album, “Stereo Rodeo,” is the band’s seventh and is one of Liz’s favorites. “I really love the songs from the new album,” Liz said. “It has some really great energy in it.”
The band’s fan base is growing all the time, and has some fans that constantly listen.
Richard Drexler, 20, of Rochester, N.Y., is one of those fans. He remembers how the only time he saw Rusted Root live last year, it changed his entire summer.
“I heard their songs of theirs on the radio but I didn’t really get into them until the RIJF concert,” he said, referring to the Rochester International Jazz Festival.
Drexler admits it took him a few times listening to the band until he became a fan. “I was very impressed with their sound,” he said. “Mixing different genres to make their own distinct sound is great.”
His favorite song is “Martyr,” which he describes as a “real fun song to listen while driving and the windows are pulled down.”
It’s one of many songs where lead singer Glabicki and Liz share vocals.
“I think it adds to the dynamics of the band having a male vocal and female vocal,” Liz said, “It makes the band sound fresh.”
Fresh is exactly how Liz and her band sound with every song they play.
(Alon Melamed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)