Sharon Klein & The Music Without Walls Project

Sharon Klein & The Music Without Walls Project

 New Paltz, New York, USA

Acoustic cross-cultural music; a travel log of experiences from a seasoned world traveller.


Sharon Klein

“I’ve always been fascinated with cultures other than the one I was born into,” says Sharon Klein. “When I was a kid my mom subscribed to National Geographic, and we had a big world map on the wall. I’d look up at the different areas on that map and say, ‘I wonder what it’s like there’ and ‘I wanna go there.’ So I guess that’s where my obsessions with travel and foreign and indigenous music really started. I just really love meeting people from other backgrounds and learning their stories.”
It’s those stories, along with her unshakable musical wanderlust—plus the very human faces of the characters in her compassionately personal songs—that resonate so strongly throughout The Way Back Home, Sharon’s profoundly moving debut album. An evocative, image-rich set, the recording, which was made in Israel and upstate New York, visibly captures the far-reaching scope of its maker’s travels. Using mainly acoustic instruments the release takes the listener on a journey through the arid deserts of the Middle East to the verdant mountains of Appalachia and the sun-swept plains of Andalusia. As the players’ furtive fingers shuffle and dance artfully on guitar and various other Western and exotic string, wind, and percussion instruments, Sharon’s vivid words offer precious snapshots of the often desperate lives and struggles of the unheard.
A fingerstyle guitar master who Middle Eastern oud and other ethnic stringed instruments, Sharon’s self-described romance with the guitar family began at age eight with lessons from jazz great Joe Monk and, later, school field trips to Carnegie Hall concerts by Andres Segovia and flamenco king Sabicas. She discovered Middle Eastern music during her college years on an Israeli kibbutz and in the 1970s studied raga singing in New York under Pandit Pran Nath, alongside minimalist composers Terry Reilly, LaMonte Young, and Jon Hassell. After attending recording school she moved into studio work, producing and engineering others and composing soundtrack material for “Saturday Night Live,” CBS Sports, and several films. In the ’80s Sharon performed with the underground rock bands Network and Scandals.
“I have a journalistic approach to songwriting,” says Sharon. “I’m not so into writing about myself, like most singer-songwriters. My songs tell stories through the eyes of others; they’re like little novelettes.” Among the poignant story-songs on The Way Back Home are “Borders of Stone,” about a day in the conflict-ridden West Bank, and “Noura,” the narrative of an Afghani child bride who escapes her hellish circumstances only to see her homeland destroyed by war. The sole purely autobiographical track is the title cut, which examines the world standing of her American birthplace while using the saga of her ongoing travels as a metaphor for self-rediscovery.
Among Sharon’s fellow musical voyagers on The Way Back Home, which the singer produced and arranged herself, are Bob Dylan/Levon Helm sideman Larry Campbell, on mandolin, and four-time Grammy Award-winning percussionist Glen Velez. The disc has drawn advance praise from another Grammy recipient, guitarist Al Pettaway. “It’s a brilliant collection of songs,” he raves. “Both the playing and writing are just superb.”
While The Way Back Home so lucidly chronicles Sharon Klein’s journeys thus far, it’s also a journey unto itself—one whose ancient, mystic moods shift constantly like desert sands; one that weaves together the heartfelt yarns of its subjects like a richly colored tribal rug. It’s a journey listeners will want to take again and again.


Borders of Stone

Written By: Sharon Klein

We drove through the hills as I quietly played you a song
Our eyes caught sight of the Jordan and then it was gone
Making its way through the sands of the desert alone
Calling it home by the borders of stone

Your eyes said the words that never came out of your mouth
A man on a camel walked passed us and then headed south
The hot winds blew as we headed for the unknown
Over the hills passed the borders of stone

A woman carrying a baby knocked on the window
And as she leaned over I noticed she started to shake
She held out her hand and she stared
And she just wouldn’t let go
And I saw you break, you just started to break

We made our way back to the city before we got caught
Over the hills and the valleys where Joshua fought
Seamlessly passed through the checkpoint
And headed for home
Leaving the borders of stone

The Way Back Home

Written By: Sharon Klein

The Way Back Home © Sharon Klein Jan. 8, 2007

In a quiet café on St. Germaine
I drink my wine and read Verlaine
I have traveled the world to parts unknown
But I always find my way back home

In the narrow streets of Bethlehem
Time is caught between now and then
In a world gone mad I feel so alone
But I always find my way back home

My country ‘tis thee
Sweet land of liberty
From every mountainside
Help me regain my pride

From the desert of Afghanistan
To the rice paddies of Viet Nam
We are feared and hated to the bone
We have got to find our way back home

I pledge allegiance to
The flag that I once knew
A land open to all
How did our country fall?

I could live a million miles away
With my wanderlust I could never stay
In a single place for too long
But I always find my way back home
Yes I always find the way back home


Written By: Sharon Klein


My name is Noura and I live alone
I have traveled away from my home
I left my husband and family
I once wore the burka but now I am free
When I was 13 in Afghanistan
My parents sent me to marry a man
I lay with him once then he locked me away
Then he married another and forced me to stay
He came to visit me once in awhile
And when I was 14 I was with child
His other wives would have children too
And we all lived together and our family grew
As I grew older I longed to see
How different the world outside might be
The longing grew stronger every day
I plotted and planed how I’d run away

Then one day there came the war
The journalists came for the blood and the gore
Down at the market a man came to me
Asked me if I’d like him to help me break free

He smuggled me out in the back of his truck
I didn’t think twice as he wished me good luck
I’d never again hear my child’s voice
I knew in my heart that I had no choice

The war kept tearing my country apart
Every bomb that dropped tore out my heart
The village flattened far as I could see
I was watching the new from my flat in Paris

City of Refuge

Written By: Sharon Klein

City of Refuge 8/13/05 9 Av

Max Najinskikov was an old shoemaker
Shared a little shop with the village baker
Fled the old country when he was just a young boy
Sailed across the sea
To join a secret convoy

Sonia Arizal came from Lithuania
Went to Palestine instead of Pennsylvania
Her parents fled the Czar
Their lives in constant danger
They lived on stale bread
And hid among the strangers

Yakov Ben-Ami had a home in Baghdad
He left a family, everyone was so sad
1949, they were so mistreated
He knew it was the time
He would not be defeated

Jeramiah warned there would be destruction
Walls would tumble down, a total deconstruction
They all ignored his words as they kept on singing
They had no idea
What the future was bringing

They say this city floats right to the gates of Eden
Before it lets you in it leaves you hurt and bleeding
Yerushalyim lives inside the minds of mystics
City of refuge waits
We are the next statistics

Valley of Dreams

Written By: Sharon Klein

Valley of Dreams
By Sharon Klein © 2007

Born in a back room 6AM
I screamed at the doctor when he walked in
We moved to the country, to a different new State
The future looked bright back in ‘58
We looked out on the mountains far and wide
Life was tough in this country side
With the dreams of a poet and a pioneer
Our mission in life was clear
In the valley
In the valley of dreams

Dad worked the railroad on the seacoast line
Mom opened a dress shop for her designs
The country was young and we were too
There wasn’t a thing we couldn’t do
When my brother was 18 he went off to war
He never returned from that distant shore
Mama’s heart broke, now she doesn’t smile
Daddy took to the bottle for a little while
In the valley
In the valley of dreams

The dreams disappeared
With the hopes that we had through the years

Now I am older with a life of my own
Been searching for years for that place called home
So I moved to the country just like my folks
I packed my guitar with my dreams and hopes
With a lifetime full of memories
And pictures of childhood fantasies
The people I loved, they are all gone
With my vision clear I’ve moved on
In my valley, in my valley of dreams

Night of Broken Glass

Written By: Sharon Klein

Night of Broken Glass Sept. 26, 2005

I walked along my road yesterday
A boy came up to me
He said, please help, I can’t find my way
And I’ve lost my family

I asked what’s wrong? What’s happened to you
And why are you all alone
He pointed to the empty field and said
That used to be my home

“My father was a very brave man”
His story began to unfold
“One day they came and took him away
Cause he wouldn’t do what he was told

He would drive in his car with his gun on the seat
He knew things are getting much worse
As the planes would fly by he’d smile and he’d wave
But under his breath he would curse

He invited the neighbors for dinner one night
And mom would tell all through her tears
We have to do something, we can’t turn away
And I know that you don’t want to hear

They’ve closed the libraries, they shut down the web
And there’s only one show on TV
It happened so slowly while we were sleep
And our eyes were too blind to see

Well the neighbors were yawning and drinking their beers
A few of them started to leave
Then someone yelled out “hey who gives a crap
Stop wearing your heart on your sleeve”

Deep into the night came a knock on the door
And they grabbed my parents and me
They took them to a place far away
And now I am a refugee

I gazed at the field as the boy disappeared
Through the wildflowers and leaves of grass
And I was so glad to wake up from my dream
Of the night of the broken glass

Down Mexico

Written By: Sharon Klein

Down Mexico

I am a stranger, I have no history
The past don’t follow where I go
Danger can’t find me if I keep running
All the way down, down Mexico

I was a teacher, I had a family
But they all left me some time ago
So I just packed up and started traveling
I thought I’d wind up down Mexico

The time keeps moving, don’t know where it goes
One day I woke up and I was old
But there’s a young girl from my childhood
That’s waiting for me down Mexico

The time has come for me to carry on this fight
But I don’t know what I’m fighting for
If I just could have known what life would give to me
I think I might have loved you more

So I’ll just keep on keeping on and on
Cause there’s no where else to go
Where ever you are my soul will follow
All the way down down Mexico

From This World To The Next

Written By: Sharon Klein

From This World To the

I’d give anything to feel my arms around you
To feast my eyes on your sweet smile again
How I miss those words of wisdom that you’d speak as my best friend
What can I do to fill this void that you’ve left me
How will I find the strength to carry on each day
And I move on with my life I listen close and hear you say

I’m a candle burning brightly, I’m a candle that protects
I have gone to the almighty
From this world to the next

If there anything I could have done to save you
If there was anyway that I could bring you back
I would give the world to hold you there is nothing you would lack
If I could turn the hands of time to the beginning
I would have done a better job to ease your pain
And I would pay a billion dollars just to hear your voice again

Some people say that one day we will meet again Mom
At a table with a setting with no end
And we’ll dine there reunited with our family and our friends
You’ll be there laughing with your sisters
And grandpa jack with pinch me on the cheek
And we’ll drive back to the mountains
And we’ll stay more than a week


11 song CD, entitled "The Way Back Home"

Set List

Our set list consists of an hour and a half of original songs and instrumentals, featuring an eclectic mixture of world music styles from the US, to Brazil to the Middle East. A multi-media photography slide show is also offered to enhance the music in concert sized venues.