Singer Meir Banai dies at 55

The influential and prominent Israeli artist passed away on Thursday.

Meir Banai (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Meir Banai
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Meir Banai, one of Israel’s greatest singer/songwriters and a member of the famous Banai clan, died Thursday after a battle with cancer.
His sister, Orna, told Ynet that “he believed that he would beat cancer, and he wrote songs until the last day. Today, his daughter sat by his side and played him music until he breathed his last breath.”
Born and raised in Beersheba, Banai is the brother of Eviatar Banai, cousin of Ehud Banai and Mashina leader Yuval Banai and the nephew of the late veteran entertainer Yossi Banai.
He released his first self-financed single in 1982, and his self-titled debut album was released in 1984. The title song from his second album, Geshem, became arguably his bestknown and best-loved song.
Overall, he released seven albums during his varied career, including 2007’s Shma Koli, that included traditional Jewish texts set to music. In 2008, Banai was awarded the Landau Award for Stage Arts by Mifal Hapayis.
President Reuven Rivlin eulogized Banai on Thursday night, calling him “a wonderful poet and a rare musician.
Every time I heard him sing, my mind drifted and my soul identified with the song and moved me in a way that only music can. I’d find myself humming his songs hours after I’d heard them played.”
Banai leaves behind two children and a rich legacy of deeply personal and authentic Israeli music.