A Lifelong Song

Dorothy Moskowitz ’62’s cross- culture collaboration spawns new album

Dorothy Moskowitz album cover

The American singer-songwriter Dorothy Moskowitz ’62 had been making music long before she attended Barnard, and just as she lives and breathes, she continues to make her art.

Her latest, Under an Endless Sky (Tompkins Square, 2023), is a collaboration with Italian composer Francesco Paladino and poet Luca Ferrari. The album’s 23-minute title track is meditative bliss made complete by Moskowitz’s tranquilizing vocals.

“How strange a thing is man,” she sings. “A blinded lab rat in a cage/ Stuck in his house, elevator, or car/ His eyes engulfed by screens.”

Moskowitz, 83, explains that Paladino and Ferrari sought her out because of the avant-garde fame she garnered when she sang lead for the pioneering experimental rock band the United States of America in the 1960s. “My actual association with avant-garde artists was intense but short-lived,” she says. Paladino and Ferrari even chose to bill themselves as the United States of Alchemy as a nod to the legacy band of Moskowitz’s early years, she says. “I consider myself experimental as of this writing, but I have no pretensions to being avant-garde either now or back in the day.”

Despite “cataclysmic” changes in the music business, Moskowitz says she rather enjoys the modernity of the music world. After all, thanks to digital production, “obscure musicians like me can now produce on their own in small home studios with astonishing results.”

Using Google Translate to communicate with her Italian collaborators, she composed melodies to “float” over Paladino’s compositions and translate Ferrari’s poetry into a more laconic style that would make sense in English. “We all became very close in the process, despite the miles,” she says. Moskowitz was already writing songs before she got to Barnard, but the College lent her “intellectual courage,” she says. “This, in turn, has opened the door to collaborations with people from all over the world. It’s a remarkably fruitful phase to enjoy in my 80s — a Barnard bonus, you might say.” —Gina Vergel

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