Feeling at home in Spanish and Hebrew

Beloved for Hebrew anthems, David Broza hopes Israelis will warm to his latest Spanish-language release.

david broza 88 298 (photo credit: )
david broza 88 298
(photo credit: )
David Broza has come of age, in more ways than one. Besides his recent milestone birthday, the new member of the over-50 club has just released his third Spanish-language album, and is about to embark on a tour to support the new work. He'll perform with the Broza Five at Tel Aviv's Zappa Club January 25 to 27 and at the Einav Center January 28. Those familiar with Broza's smash mid-Eighties record HaIsha She'Etee (The Woman by My Side) may be forgiven for thinking there's nothing new about Broza's offering us a taste of Iberia. But they'd be wrong. HaIsha She'Etee may have permanently established the songwriter/guitarist as an Israeli megastar, but eight of the nine tracks on that release were Hebrew versions of Spanish songs, and the record gave the impression of a being a marketing experiment as much as a musical endeavor. The new CD, Parking Completo, is another story entirely. That's not to say that Parking Completo does not do justice to the genre - it does so with aplomb - but the new album is a gutsy, no-holds-barred work teeming with frontier-pushing spirit and unbridled passion. Despite a favorable initial response to the album, Broza admits to a certain amount of apprehension about the new offering. "It's not the norm in Israel to put out records in a foreign language," he says, "especially in a country where cultural identity is so important." Given that Parking Completo is not the first Spanish-language release in Broza's 28-year recording career, why the concern over the Israeli public's response this time around? "This is my third Spanish album, but Isla Mujeres and Todo O Nada were mainly marketed abroad," Broza explains. "I have drawn a clear line across what I do for the Anglo-Saxon audience, for Spanish audiences and for Israelis. I have recorded in all three languages and it's a part of my own personal cultural identity. I feel comfortable in all those languages and that's who I am. Take me or leave me." With a CV like Broza's, one could say the singer is truly a citizen of the world. Born in Haifa, Broza left Israel with his family as young child and divided his formative years between Britain and Spain. Add to that significant US mileage and you get one cosmopolitan dude. Still, Broza had some work to do to really get into the Spanish groove. "I went to an English-language high school when I lived in Spain, so my Spanish was pretty rough and ready," he explains. But with his passion for the music and culture, Broza honed his Spanish skills for Parking Completo, and he relocated, with his family, to Madrid. "I lived there for three years, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," he says. "I did gigs in Tel Aviv and New York but my home was there." And Broza has every right to call Spain home. He traces his ancestry back to a village called Brozas that had a considerable Jewish population up to the Inquisition. "I went there and was welcomed as a sort of a long lost son," Broza recalls. "I really feel rooted there. The first track on Parking Completo, "Estuve Aqui" (I Was Here), is about that." With his language skills suitably honed, Broza set about producing a Spanish tour de force. The singer recruited a formidable team for the new album, enlisting the help of Javier Limon, the stellar Latin music producer, and Mercedes Sosa, the celebrated Argentinean diva who contributed her formidable vocals to one of the new tracks. Parking Completo is about more than just Broza's Spanish allegiances, however. There is one song in Hebrew and Arabic, and two of the Spanish tracks are accompanied on the CD by versions in Hebrew. Broza has come a long way since first attracting notice with "Yihyeh Tov" (It will be good), the hit 1977 song written to mark Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Israel. However, it was HaIsha She'Etee that catapulted Broza to the upper echelon of the Israeli pop-rock hierarchy, a position he has maintained ever since. Over the past 20 years he has also cultivated and nurtured a successful career outside Israel, sharing stages with the likes of Sting and Paul Simon and performing for President Clinton. Parking Completo finds Broza energized and ready to take the world by storm. "I've traveled a long road to put my artistic credo into practice," he says. "I feel very comfortable with what I do now with my music. Now I can really let loose."