A Cantor is a person who sings the songs and prayers in a service at a synagogue, by the side of the Rabbi(s) who lead main sermons and lectures. Services at a synagogue have their own rhythm, their own pulse, and feel, and this is largely due to the work of the Cantor. A Cantor might play piano, or guitar, sometimes both, sometimes other instruments, but will, in general, have instruments accompanying their vocal work. One thing that strikes a lot of people when they attend their first service in a synagogue, is how many of the prayers and psalms are sung, each with their own melody, timing, and such. This is why the work of a Cantor is so pivotal throughout services!
A very large portion of our Shabbat services every week are sung, the praises of Adonai are sung, this helps bring joy to every service and keeps them lively and engaging. A Rabbi is a teacher, they lead the sermons, interpret the Torah and Talmud, teach from the Midrash and Mishna, and help people in their times of spiritual need (as well as in conversions), the Cantor does the rest. A Cantor can be male or female, and in some cases, a synagogue might have both singing in harmony. Cantors have a very difficult and sacred job, they must learn the music, note for note, learn the prayers and the rhythm, the lyrics and how they are sung… and do so in both Hebrew and English. It is an important job, a difficult job, a sacred job, and one that the Cantor does with grace and sanctity each week.
To this I say, Todah Raba to all of the Cantors around the world!