Margot Leverett is a New York-based clarinettist. Born in Ohio, she lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, New York before studying at Indiana University School of Music. At Indiana, she was classically trained. Leverett later became interested in klezmer, a traditional musical style of the Jews of Eastern Europe. She studied with klezmer clarinettist Sidney Beckerman and was a founding member of The Klezmatics in 1985. The Klezmatics, a band associated with the Klezmer Revival of the 1980s and onward, would later become the first klezmer band to win a Grammy Award.
In 1999, Leverett was a founding member of another klezmer band called Mikveh. This band is named after the mikveh, a traditional ritual bath in which Orthodox Jewish women immerse themselves. They released a self-titled album in 2001, described by Rambles magazine as "a potent and heady mix of passion and power." Mikveh calls itself a band whose music "reflects the experience of Jewish women," drawing on Yiddish song and klezmer instrumentation to produce a mixture of older pieces, newer adaptations of historical material, and original compositions.
Leverett also released a solo CD called The Art of Klezmer Clarinet in 2001. The 17-track album was favorably reviewed—Klezmershack.com called it a "tribute to greats of the American Klezmer clarinet" and a "tremendous leap in skill and soulfulness."
Her current musical project is The Klezmer Mountain Boys, a band she founded in 2001 that aims to fuse the styles of klezmer and bluegrass. The Klezmer Mountain Boys have released two albums: a self-titled album in 2002 and an album called Second Avenue Square Dance. Leverett said, “I’ve always liked American fiddle tunes of all kinds—Cajun tunes, fiddle tunes, bluegrass. I didn’t get many opportunities to play it, because clarinet is not so invited at these parties. But the more I heard it the more I wanted to give it a try.”
- Come for 'Jewgrass,' stay for Selichot, New Jersey Jewish Standard 28 August 2009
- Bridging Peace
- Music: YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe
- The Art of Klezmer Clarinet: album
- Leverett honors sounds of shtetl, The Boston Herald 14 January 2000
- Grammy-winning Klezmatics push the klezmer genre forward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 15 October 2009
- Celebrating the Klezmatics' Grammy, JVibe, April 2007
- Article about Mikveh in Rambles, 12 January 2002
- Mikveh website
- Klezmershack.com review, 1/1/00
- New Mexico Folk Music and Dance Society Newsletter, Jan/Feb 2005
- Margot Leverett bio on Klezmer Mountain Boys website
- Jewish Daily Forward article