Monday, November 26, 2012

My encounter with Israeli popular music and the Idan Raichel Project

Idan Raichel
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

It's not hard to identify great music when you hear one. It might be sang in a language you don't understand, but if it's good music it will touch you. And so the Idan Raichel Project hit me with their kind of music.

I knew Idan Raichel is a great musician immediately I heard his voice boom out of the microphone at the National Theatre in Accra as his highly disciplined band played Thursday November 22, 2012. He sang purposefully to touch his audience.

Raichel, like every Israeli has done military service. And when he was done, at that time barely 30 years old he plunged into music.

His records and music genre became instant hits selling millions of copies making him one of Israel's most acclaimed and awarded musicians. His music is known and appreciated worldwide.

But he was performing in Ghana for the first time, he told the audience.

Playing a genre that blends modern music approaches with traditional Jewish tunes, the Idan Raichel Project made up of nationals of different countries is arguably a remarkable music group. The band sings in Hebrew, Amharic, Spanish and English.

The group played in Accra to mark the re-opeing of the Israeli Embassy in Ghana after it was closed 38 years ago.

I was among the privileged few invited by the Embassy to attend the concert. Ghanaian reggae star, Rocky Dawuni was a guest artiste at the concert.

The 10-piece band played incredibly good tunes and the singers, four of them, two females and two males including Raichel himself and one Ethiopian. I could tell he was Ethiopian because he danced with his shoulders a lot - of course Ethiopians dance by holding the waist or clasping the hands together and moving the shoulders up and down.

The concert was my first encounter with Israeli pop music as I have listened to religious music from that country many times, and this encounter will leave much stronger memory of what may become a life-long love for Israeli pop music.

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