JEWISH TRADITION teaches that no prophet is recognized in his home town. While there was a certain awareness of singer and songwriter Yael Naim in France where she was born and now lives, and in Israel where she was raised and sang in the Air Force entertainment unit, it was not until Apple's Steve Jobs chose her song "New Soul" to help promote its MacBook Air laptop in a marketing campaign that Naim achieved stardom. She became the first Israeli artist to make the top 10 on the American hit parade. Now she's famous both in France and Israel, as well as the US, and will be appearing at Zappa in Tel Aviv and Herzliya on July 31 and August 1 and at the Wohl Amphitheater in Tel Aviv on August 2.
IN RECENT years, much has been written about the extraordinary talents of the Banai family, and the fact that so many of its members have achieved fame independently. But there is another highly talented family whose members have also achieved fame, to the extent of winning the Eurovision song contest. The Cohen family, headed by Shlomo (professionally known as Suleiman the Great), doesn't get that much publicity these days, but its members continue to sing. They came together to do so just over a week ago at a tribute to Suleiman the Great and his wife Sarah, organized by the cultural department of the Ramat Hasharon Municipality. The event in the city's main plaza was billed as "The Song of the Tribe" and attracted an enthusiastic audience of some 3,000 people, many of whom were nostalgic for the community sing-alongs the Cohen family used to lead across the country. Moderated by Dan Almagor, the event included performances by Hofni, Pini, Itamar, Izhar and Vardina Cohen, along with Hadar Zaltin and Edna Goren. Ramat Hasharon Mayor Itzik Rochberger, who is known as the singing mayor, presented Suleiman the Great with a special citation acknowledging his contribution to Hebrew song.
MAKING CONTACT with the audience is a challenge for all singers and musicians, but especially for soloists. Margalit Tsanani has never really had a problem in that respect. Her audiences love her and their body language says it all. But there are occasions when the singer is upstaged by the band, which is what happened when Tsanani appeared at the Berla Music Club. She came to sing some of her top soul and R&B hits, accompanied by a 10-member group of musicians who had apparently spent a little time at the bar before taking their places onstage. The alcoholic beverages they had consumed influenced the zest with which they played to the extent that they almost drowned out Tsanani. Quick to size up the situation, Tsanani left the stage and started moving among the audience members, literally singing right next to them. Her fans were thrilled to be so close to her, and what could have been a disaster evolved into a roaring success - so much so that Tsanani plans to sing more at floor level than stage level in the future.
SHE'S ONLY 22-years-old, but Bar Rafaeli could put together a scrapbook of hundreds of pages of publicity that she has received in Israel, the US and elsewhere, not only in relation to her modeling career and her romance with Leonardo DiCaprio, but now also for her new TV special in the US, Ironic Iconic America, based on the book written by fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and George Lois. The show is due to air on Bravo in the fall.
THE ANNUAL Klezmer Festival in Safed attracts thousands of people from all over the country, not only because of the quality and variety of the performers and the wealth of hassidic stories that are shared, but because Safed is Israel's cradle of mysticism. The Klezmer festival provides an opportunity for people to explore the mystic aspect of this ancient city as well as to be part of a great musical happening, taking place this year from August 18-20. As charming as Safed is, for people with mobility problems, coping with the winding lanes and steep, narrow staircases is sometimes too great a challenge. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yiddishpiel is organizing a mini Klezmer Festival featuring acclaimed singer Dudu Fisher. The Yiddishpiel Klezmer Festival, which overlaps the Safed one and runs from August 11-28, will tour the country with performances in Haifa, Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Kiryat Haim, Jordan Valley, Petah Tikva and Tel Aviv. This is not the first time that Fisher, whose repertoire has always included Yiddish songs, has appeared with Yiddishpiel, and anyone who has heard him sing in Yiddish knows that it's really dear to his heart.