Coronating rhythm and blues royalty

Malka Ingadashet is the third sister in line for a promising musical career - hers inspired by Alicia Keys.

malka indadeshet 88 224 (photo credit: )
malka indadeshet 88 224
(photo credit: )
If you're going to make a career out of singing for your supper it makes sense to have a memorable moniker. Mind you, while Malka ("queen") is about as catchy as they come, you've still got to have the talent to back the title. In her short but burgeoning career to date, 23-year-old Ashdod resident Malka Ingadashet has certainly provided evidence that we can expect great things of her. Her debut album, Hayamim Hatovim (The Good Days), recently met suitable acclaim, following the release of a single "Tahat Einecha" (Under Your Eyes) - which is earning a generous amount of airplay on leading radio stations such as Reshet Gimmel and Galgalatz. While Malka does little to disguise her joy at the response thus far, she is not letting her initial success go to her head. "It's great that people seem to like what I do, but it's early days yet," she notes sagely. "I'm only just setting out on my career." It is no surprise to learn that Malka began playing music at an early age, although she says it took a while before she began to take the business seriously - despite getting a lot of sibling encouragement. "I played flute and recorder as a young kid," she recalls, "but that was just at school and different after-school activities." Her musical endeavors were not exactly helped by her educational environment either. "I went to a religious school and, you know, they don't exactly push the students to take up a career in music." MEANWHILE, MALKA'S mother bought her a guitar and the then-teenager wrote a song at the behest of her older sister Miri, now a 27-year-old professional singer herself. "Miri and [oldest sister] Ayala were always telling me I should be writing songs, so I did, and they liked them. I really started singing when I was 15. I don't know why it started coming out then. It just felt like it was the right time, and I simply couldn't stop the music coming out of me." Ayala, who is six years older than Malka, had already embarked on a musical career, working with the likes of rapper-hip hop artists Piloni and Mook E - from Israel's first hip hop band Shabak Samech - and had subsequently struck out on her own solo path. That helped to pave the way for Malka's own onstage efforts. "I filled in for Ayala with Shabak Samech a few times. I enjoyed that very much and it gave me some valuable experience before I started performing under my own name." Besides the obvious polished entertainment value, music also allows Malka to express some of the darker sides of her life. "I am an optimistic person but, for some reason, I find it easier to talk about sad things. It's not that I get down about things, but that's just what comes out when I write." Some of that sadness comes from the trials and tribulations her parents experienced when they came to Israel from their native Ethiopia in 1981. "It's not just my parents, the whole Ethiopian community has gone through a lot of tough things here. That's part of what I am, and that comes through in my work too." MALKA SAYS her main inspiration from abroad comes from American R&B-soul singer Alicia Keys, and there is a certain degree of similarity between the way the two go about their business. "I love the way she mixes classical music into her work, and she is very brave about the way she presents herself and her music. That appeals to me." Malka's audiences at venues like Tel Aviv's Levontin 7 club have gained a similar impression of the young Israeli singer. There's a freshness to her approach, and the American soul influence is definitely there. So it comes as some surprise to learn that Malka's English is limited, although she says she can see herself trying her luck outside Israel at some stage in her career. "I don't really know English as a language, but it's as if I think in English when I write my songs. It's a bit strange. I connect with the rhythm of English in music. That part comes naturally to me." With two sisters already making their mark on the Israeli music scene, one wonders whether we might, at some stage, see an Ingadashet family troupe on stage and/or in a recording studio. "I don't know about that," says Malka. "We are all busy getting on with our own solo careers right now." And there may even be more where Malka, Miri and Ayala come from. "My 17-year-old sister also has a good voice. I think my mother could also do something artistic too. She doesn't sing - although I think she could - but she is very creative. You should see how she takes simple bits of paper and turns them into beautiful works of art." One important consideration of any budding Israeli artist is how to make ends meet. While we may not have too many world-class athletes, we are positively brim full of musicians. Unlike the States and Western Europe, Israel is a small country with a relatively small market. Does Malka ever think about - her early success notwithstanding - how she will manage when she's older? "Yes, I have thought about how hard it is to make a living from music. I have seen my older sisters, and what they have to do to get by. But I get so much satisfaction from working in music - artistic and spiritual. It's stronger than me, I simply have to work in music."