Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 01:46 AM EDT, 18 December 2009
ISRAEL – “The Idan Raichel Project is the self-titled debut album by Idan Raichel. Raichel composed and arranged many of the tracks, performs vocals and plays the keyboard, while collaborating with other vocalists and musicians. Hit singles include Boi (בואי / “Come”), Im Telech (אם תלך / “If you go”) and M’dab’rim B’sheket (מדברים בשקט / “Speaking Quietly”).
Idan, the group’s founder, had long been fascinated with the diversity of Israel and sought to celebrate his appreciation and respect for different cultures through his music. Because of its open door to immigrants from Jewish communities around the globe, Israel is home to a stew of cultures and traditions, including people of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Latin American and Eastern European roots.
Yemenite Jews offer traditions that reflect thousands of years of living in the country of Yemen on the southern edges of the Arabian Peninsula. Israel’s Sephardic community consists of people who had incorporated the traditions of Spain, North Africa and the Mediterranean region where they had lived for centuries. The largest immigrant population in Israel consists of Ashkenazi Jews, who had come mostly from Russia and Eastern Europe (Idan’s is himself of Eastern European descent). More recently, over 85,000 Ethiopian Jews now call Israel home after efforts to naturalize this so-called “lost tribe of Israel” through dramatic airlifts in the 1980s and 90s. In addition, there is a large Arab community, which makes up almost 20% of the official total population of Israel.
While the majority of Raichel’s songs are in Hebrew, a few are entirely in Amharic, while others include small passages in Amharic, by male and female voices, setting traditional-sounding tunes to modern music. Love-songs predominate in his Hebrew lyrics, including Hinech Yafah (הינך יפה / “Thou art Fair”) based on the Song of Songs, while the opening track also reaches into the depths of Jewish liturgy, with B’rachot L’shanah Chadashah (ברכות לשנה חדשה / “Blessings for a new year”) sampling voices reciting traditional Jewish blessings. (Source: Wikipedia)
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