A ray of hope

Liel Kolet will do what she can to promote peace, even write a melody for Shimon Peres's lyrics.

Liel Kolet 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Liel Kolet 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Goffin and King, Leiber and Stoller, Lennon and McCartney, Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore - the list of classic songwriting partners is long as it is varied. But nothing's prepared the listening public for this combination: Shimon Peres and Liel Kolet. The octogenarian president of Israel and the 19-year-old international pop success story from Kibbutz Kinneret have collaborated on a song called "Ray of Hope" - lyrics by Peres, music by Kolet - which debuted Monday night at "Believe," a gala concert in Tel Aviv marking the 10th anniversary of the Peres Center for Peace. The concert, featuring international and local talent like Kolet, Andrea Bocelli, Ahinoam Nini, Gustavo Santalaolla, Mercedes Sosa and top American songwriter Diane Warren debuting a song written especially for the occasion called "That I Wish," was part of the center's three days of events taking place through Tuesday to mark a decade of peace-building efforts. Peres aide Yoram Dori told AP in August that Peres wrote "Ray of Hope" last year in a bout of inspiration. The lyrics were posted on Songweavers.com, a site that connects lyricists and composers, and among the dozens who wrote music was Iranian Sadri Ghandehari from Teheran. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post just before heading into rehearsals with Bocelli, who was singing "Ray of Hope" with her Monday night, Kolet explained how the unlikely pairing with Peres came about. "The lyrics were written by President Peres over a year ago," said Kolet. They include lines like "Provide my foe and friend a bloodless day, Invite boys and girls for peace to pray." "We heard from Peres's people that they were looking for someone to put his lyrics to music for the anniversary show. And my manager, Irit Ten-Hengel, who was in charge of arranging all the talent for the show, decided to give me the lyrics and told me to think about it. "I thought they were so beautiful and very emotional. They were lyrics of hope; it's a prayer to God. Once I read them, within an hour I already had the melody." Kolet recorded the song and sent it to Peres, and within days she was told by his staff that they wanted her to perform her version of the song at the show. Ten-Hengel then sent the song to Bocelli. "When Andrea heard it, he called immediately and said he loved it and would like to sing a duet with me. It's so exciting," said Kolet. Peres himself hadn't heard the song before last night and Kolet was nervous about his reaction. "I'm going to meet him after the main event tonight. I hope he likes it," she said. IF IT'S anything like her other material, Kolet has nothing to worry about. She's been performing since age 11 and released her first album when she was 12. And in any case, Peres is already a fan. Four years ago, Kolet performed the song "Imagine" for Peres's 80th birthday, and she invited former president Bill Clinton to sing along. The image of her and Clinton was all over television and the Internet - just one of many collaborations the singer has undertaken. Fans of the Scorpions may remember her duet with the band during its show in Israel in 2006. Kolet is now readying for the release of her new album, Save Yourself, next month, which features guest appearances by Patti Labelle, Herbie Hancock and guitar slinger Slash. "One of the album's producers works with many big artists, including Slash. He played 'For the Love of God' for him and Slash said he really liked it and would like to play guitar on it. Well, I love Slash, and I still can't believe he's playing on my album," said Kolet. Slash, who was originally slated to perform with Kolet at the show last night, bowed out due to a conflict in his schedule. "It was a misunderstanding," said Kolet. "At first, he was supposed to, but it turned out he didn't have the time free." Kolet, who works with many children-related organizations like the Sheba Medical Center and Children of Peace in the UK, made sure she made the time to hail the Peres Center's work and the man who founded it. "Since I started my career, I've dedicated over 50 percent of my time to efforts promoting peace. So when they turned to me to take part in this concert, I said yes right away," said Kolet. "The work the Peres Center does to unite Arabs and Jews is amazing, and I support it with all my heart."