When I Arrived You Were Already There

Nominated for a 2013 Canadian Folk Music Award

“Two years ago, I went to Namibia to see the sky. I went looking for the vastness of the desert sky — and also elephants — and I found both. I knew somehow that the experience of expansiveness held some information that I really needed, and it completely informed the intentions for this album.”

With the release of her first solo, self-penned venture, one experiences Aviva Chernick — the lead singer of Juno-nominated Jaffa Road, student of the Balkan Judeo-Spanish tradition, and cantorial singer — in a setting of her own making, shaped by years of sharing devotional songs of peace with audiences across North America. The title — When I Arrived You Were Already There — reveals much about the inevitability of her talents, as if discovering her individual voice were entirely predetermined.

Sung in both English and Hebrew in a pure, raw and unguarded voice, Aviva Chernick marries her intimate vocals to atmospheric, meditative instrumental textures. The album is simultaneously as expansive as the Namibian sky and as earthy and grounded as the desert elephants she went looking for.

“Aviva’s crystalline voice graces the album… Voices and instruments come together beautifully on this record that has a distinctly hymnal vibe.”

Errol Nazareth, CBC Radio 1, Big City Small World

This first solo outing is anything but — Aviva and co-producer Chris Gartner (Lori Cullen, Mia Sheard, TASA) enlisted the support of a cross-section of Toronto’s amazing music community. The result is a genre-defying fusion that works beautifully: World-music veteran Ernie Tollar sets the mood with a host of exotic wind instruments; Jaffa Road band-mate Aaron Lightstone contributes oud, saz, and sitar; Joel Schwartz (Great Lake Swimmers, Zebrina) adds an echo of Americana with electric and resonator slide guitars; Rakesh Tewari (Digging Roots, Madagascar Slim) and Naghmeh Farahmand add the pulse and propulsion of Middle Eastern and South Asian percussion, and guest vocalists Maryem Tollar (Maza Mazé, Little Mosque on the Prairie), Sundar Viswanathan (Jaffa Road), David Wall (Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band), Daniela Gesundheit (Snowblink), among others, harmonize and duet with Aviva on many of the tracks.

From the reverent whispered beginnings of “Eili” with elements of flute, reverberant electric guitar and trance-like percussion, to the Indian-tinged “Bo’i Kalah” with its radiant melody and chorus of singers as warm as a summer sunset, Aviva’s ethereal vocals are eloquently showcased throughout. The delicate, call-and-response duet on “Ashrei” is almost romantic in tone. “Zeh Hayom” (“This is the day”) is a call to action — from a softly declared intention to a insistent, soaring peak with the conviction of Dave Wall’s soulful wail bolstering Aviva’s joyous resolve.

When I Arrived You Were Already There transcends the bounds of culture, faith, and language. It is an album of exceptional soul, purity, and the sheer beauty of a captivating vocalist sharing the intimacy of her first solo flight.

“Her melodies… transport the listener with a meditative and transcendent character… [a] deeply heartfelt and personal offering.”

Dianne Wells, Wholenote Magazine

Aviva CD cover

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Nominated for a 2013
Canadian Folk Music Award



Where the Light Gets In

“Jaffa Road’s creative blending of sacred and secular Jewish songs, classical Arabic & Indian influnces with a variety of Western musical styles makes them an innovative force on the Toronto scene and Where the Light Gets In is a worthy testament to this”
Wholenote Magazine, November 2012

Winner of the  Canadian Folk Music Award for World Music Group of the Year 2013

Nominated for the 2013 Juno Awards

Jaffa Road website


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Sun Place

“After only a few moments of hearing Jaffa Road’s debut CD Sun Place, listeners of all stripes will likely agree that this fusion band truly plays a world of music. From Afro-Caribbean jazz and ancient Ladino songs to reggae beats and Arabian grooves, this new groups creates an alchemy of distinct tunes…”
Canadian Jewish News, March 2009

Nominated for the 2010 Juno Awards

LYG (Lo Yisa Goy) — Winner of Grand Prize, John Lennon Songwriting Contest

Jaffa Road website


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Under the Canopy


Timeless Hebrew and Ladino Love Songs.


Enhancing the beauty of this treasured event with sweet voice, textured instrumentation and lush arrangements of contemporary and traditional Jewish Music.

Nominated for the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards


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In The Sea

An intimate and sensual, musical adventure. A 40-minute voyage of 10 songs that traverse the beauties of Judeo-Spanish folk melodies, the fancies of Kurt Weil German Cabaret and the soul of traditional Spirituals as well as the music of Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman and Torontonian, Kevin Quain. With musicians Tania Gill (The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, Saint Dirt Elementary School, Deep Dark United) on piano, harmonium and melodica and Andrew Downing (The Great Uncles of the Revolution, Melodeon, Jane Bunnett, Moe Koffman) on bass and cello, this World/Cabaret debut for Aviva Chernick is a music collection must have.


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