As the leader of Pharaoh’s Daughter, Basya Schechter’s musical influences vary. Her foundation is built on her Hasidic Orthodox Jewish background, gathering sounds from weddings and traditional performers like Mordechai Ben David. She also finds inspiration in the folk music of Egypt, Turkey, South Africa, and other countries that she’s traveled to, and even in Radiohead.
Though Schechter started a band years ago, her sound didn’t really start coming together until after college, especially after more trips to the Middle East. That’s when she started retuning her guitar to sound like a saz, a long-necked lute used by many cultures throughout the region. She began writing melodies that referenced not only the sounds of the East, but also Jewish Orthodox texts.
“The name Pharaoh’s Daughter made the most sense,” Schechter says. “My name ‘Basya,’ which literally means ‘daughter of God,’ was given to the pharaoh’s daughter retroactively in a Babylonian commentary for her courage to stand up to her father.” Once Schechter changed her band’s name, her influences began to settle in even more deeply.
Pharaoh’s Daughter draws from Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Mizrachi influences, truly representing an entire world of Jewish culture.
The Piccolo performance will not be the typical electric/acoustic Pharaoh’s Daughter show, which usually has grand arrangements with accordions, zurnas, keys, percussion, and more. “We’re doing a Pharaoh’s Daughter unplugged show as a trio, which has elements of the big show,” Schechter says. “I’m playing with two very beautiful musicians — a guitar player and percussionist — who will give echoes of the big live show, but a more simple, organic sound.”
Pharaoh’s Daughter’s music is filled with rhythm, texture, emotion, and history. “It responds musically to all the diasporas that Jews have traveled throughout history, which is how Jewish culture evolved — it is from the many cultures that have welcomed and integrated Jews and then dispersed them,” Schechter says. “It’s being in touch with these trajectories, songs, and textures from all these times and places, and creating a tapestry that is both modern and now, but with echoes from the past.”