Shiri Cohen releases five original songs in a mini album


photo courtesy of Justin Roth

Freshman Shiri Cohen performs her original song “The Moment You Left” at Kabbalat Shabbat.

Yael Greenblum , Guest Writer

With just a keyboard, a beautiful voice and a talent for composing music, freshman Shiri Cohen wrote and released an E.P. (mini album), all while mostly in the solitude of her basement. 

“The Moment You Left” was released on Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube, and 24 other different music platforms on Feb. 21. Within it, there are five original songs, all written by Cohen between the summer of 2019 and now. 

Cohen’s love of music began in CESJDS classes, as she had not yet been exposed to the musical world before arriving at JDS in sixth grade. After taking the chorus elective seven times and the theater elective five times, she took her shot at composing.

As she began writing, Cohen checked in with the JDS music teachers for advice. Vocal music and theater teacher Aaron Dunn describes himself as a “sounding board” for Cohen, critiquing when necessary while also helping her from a vocal standpoint. 

“She is always perpetually hungry for more feedback and to constantly be improving … ” Dunn said. “But I think where really the magic happened was so much of the stuff that happened outside the music room, after the class.”

Finding inspiration was tough for Cohen. She often looked into movies and her friendships to write her lyrics. Her first and favorite song she has written so far is “The Moment You Left.” The song, although written before COVID-19, has the most meaning to her now because she hasn’t hugged her best friend in a year. 

Recording in a studio was new to Cohen. She worked with audio engineer Steve Carr, recording vocals and piano tracks for all the songs, plus one additional harmony track. Cohen said she felt stressed in the beginning because of the pressure of finishing her songs during the pre-paid studio time, so she made sure to be prepared vocally before arriving. 

While recording, her father stayed in the room the entire time. He helped her to ease the stress and supported her as she played piano and sang. She recorded for ten hours over the course of two days and loved every moment of it.. 

“That was really exciting hearing my songs played back and knowing that I’m not singing a song that’s someone else’s,” Cohen said. “I’m singing a song that’s mine, that I wrote in my basement.”

After wrapping up the songs, Cohen went home to listen to her music. At midnight, when the songs were released, Cohen celebrated with an ice cream cake with her family and a FaceTime call with her friends. 

Junior Eva Schwartz and Cohen sing together in Shir Madness. They spend a lot of their time together bonding over music. Schwartz, like many others, feels proud of her friend.

“I was just in awe. I was like wow, that’s my friend, and she did that,” Schwartz said. “It was so surreal.”

The music department, after having supported Cohen during her songwriting and music journey, also felt that same excitement for Cohen. 

“You know, no one told her to do this, this wasn’t an assignment. This wasn’t anything that came out of anything but her passion and drive …,” Dunn said. “We are impressed by the E.P. but even more so, we are proud of her.” 

Cohen wants to focus on publicizing “The Moment You Left” before jumping into her next project. She hopes to use a new music structure for her future songs and change some of the themes.

“It started out as a dream, but now … I’m searchable,” Cohen said.