Kind-hearted singer brings Brooklyn charm to local AIDS benefit

Fans of singer Roslyn Kind know that when she takes the stage they can’t hide in the dark. Kind likes to make eye contact with her audience, and has even been known to make them sing along with her.

“As a performer, it’s not like I sing to midair,” says Kind. “I look at people’s faces and if I notice someone isn’t happy, I try to make them laugh.”

Kind will bring her blithe spirit to the Bay Area’s annual AIDS benefit concert “Help is On the Way for the Holidays,” coming Sunday, Dec. 3, at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. The event is sponsored by the Richmond-Ermet AIDS Foundation.

She’ll share the stage with artists like Jane Olivor, Nancy Sinatra and American Idol’s LaToya London and Anthony Federov. Kind is still working out what songs to perform, but whichever they are, she’ll surely inject them with her customary Brooklyn moxie.

Singing professionally since her teens, Kind is known for her vocal chops, which compare favorably to her half-sister Barbra Streisand. Whereas Streisand made her reputation interpreting American standards, Kind went in a different direction, seeking out more contemporary music for most of her career.

Not to mention a spiritual component as well, grounded in her lifelong dedication to Jewish religious values.

“I have a Jewish heart,” says Kind. “It’s part of my inner being. I’m well steeped in my Jewish roots, and I always fall back on them.”

Kind credits those Jewish values for motivating her charity work. She has been active in the fight against AIDS, in Alzheimer’s research and in animal rights — the latter inspired by her dog Josh, who died prematurely a few years ago.

Josh was more than a pet: He sometimes appeared with her on stage. “He would take bows with me,” she says. “After he died I started donating to the Humane Society.”

Her famous older half-sister may have played a yeshiva bocher in “Yentl,” but Kind was the real deal. She attended Brooklyn’s Yeshiva Rambam as well as Congregation B’nai Jacob (on Glenwood Road, for all you homesick Brooklynites). Her father, Louis Kind, had emigrated from Czarist Russia and strongly insisted his daughter learn about Judaism.

But show biz beckoned, and while still in her teens she released her first album. Sold-out performances at the Plaza Hotel’s Persian Room led to appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” international tours and an acting career on stage and screen.

Polished performer that she is, Kind thinks her line of work potentially offers much more than surface entertainment. “I did a lot of soul searching in the ’80s,” she says, “and I came to believe we are here to learn unconditional love. It’s not an easy lesson. Before I go on stage, my affirmation to God is about being able to spread that. If someone needs to hear a message of love and light, that’s what I want to do.”

Though she had worked non-stop for decades, Kind had to take a break following the 2002 death of her mother. Diana Kind was 93, the daughter of a cantor and a good singer herself (her own kids went into that “family business”). In recent months, Kind has revved up her show again, touring with her own ensemble. She’s also done a few cabaret shows with her friend, pianist/singer Michael Feinstein.

When she tours, Kind always tries to project a little Jewish soul from the stage, even if that stage sits atop the buckle of the Bible Belt.

“I’ve had rednecks in the middle of the country singing ‘Hallelujah.’ The Jewish ‘Hallelujah,’ ‘ Kind says. “I love getting people who don’t know who we are singing our songs.”

Roslyn Kind joins the line-up of “Help is On The Way for the Holidays,” 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets: $45-$65. Information: (415) 273-1620 or online at

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.