The three women who call themselves the Three Altos are Amy Bernstein, rabbi of Temple Israel in Duluth, Minnesota; Paula Pedersen who is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota/Duluth; and Sara Thomsen, a singer/songwriter with four CDs, Arise, Fertile Ground, By Breath, and Everything Changes. They have been performing together since 2004. Commenting on their music, they have said: "The clearest reflection of the Sacred is the rich and textured diversity that makes each human being and every speck of dust unique."

Three Jewish devotional selections sung in Hebrew — "Niggun," "B'Yado," and "Hare At" — are presented with reverence and attention to mood. The Three Altos convey an infectious joy in "O Mama Bakudala," a South African song used at gatherings as an invocation to the spirits of a matriarchal event. They do an enchanting version of the traditional folk song "The Water Is Wide" and a bold and provocative ballad "Would You Harbor Me" with words and music by Ysaye M. Barnwell. The latter asks the question posed to all religious people: Whether you support and give sanctuary to someone considered an outcast, a dangerous person, or a complete stranger? Right now many church groups are practicing the courageous path of sanctuary by helping illegal immigrants.

Our favorite song in this collection is the title ballad "Camarada" with music by Linda Hirshorn and words adapted from the poem "Song of the Open Road" by Walt Whitman. It offers a profound meditation on the love, the beauty. and the sharing that comprises friendship. We suspect that the Three Altos render this song so well because it reflects their own feelings about each other. Here are the lyrics:

"Camarada I give you my hand
I give you my love, more precious than money
Camarada I give you my hand
Camarada, I give you myself before preaching or law
Camrada, I give you my hand
Will you give me yourself?
Will you come travel with me?
Camarada I give you my hand
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live
Camarada I give you my hand."