'Going with God' to Israel

Big-selling band Vaya Con Dios kicks off the local leg of its comeback tour in Jerusalem next week.

dani klein 88 298 (photo credit: )
dani klein 88 298
(photo credit: )
When Dani Klein called from New York, the first thing the lead singer of Vaya Con Dios wanted to know was whether people would come to her concerts. She had just finished skimming The New York Times and was unsure whether the turmoil in Gaza would have any bearing on her Jerusalem, Haifa, and Ra'anana shows next week. Israel is one of the stops on Vaya Con Dios' comeback tour. "I've been asked to come to Israel for years, and I always thought it wasn't safe," Klein told The Jerusalem Post. "I've changed and my opinions have changed. I'm very excited and happy to come over, and I'm sure we're going to have a great time." Klein co-founded Vaya Con Dios in 1986 with bassist Dirk Schoufs and guitarist Willy Lambregt. Her Belgian counterparts offered up a mix of styles, combining pop ballads with Latin American, Mediterranean, Indian, Spanish and gypsy rhythms. "Belgium doesn't have a real musical identity of its own, but in Brussels you're in contact with many different cultures. I concocted my own musical roots," she says. "I never think about making music, I just make it. I don't like to describe it. It's a mixture of different influences. It's like cooking, incorporating different spices into the mix." The world went crazy over the group's first single, "Just a Friend of Mine," and despite selling more than seven million albums, Schoufs and Lambregt left the group within its first five years. Klein continued without them. She surrounded herself with talented musicians, kept the band's name (which means "Go with God" in Spanish) and sold her soulful sound across the globe. And then, when she was at the top of her game, Klein packed it all in and bid farewell to the music scene. "I felt I had lost myself," Klein says of her decision to call it quits in 1996. "Somehow the desire to keep going had disappeared. My break-up with [Schoufs] and then his death were very painful moments. I needed to recharge my batteries. I needed to find out [who] I wanted to be." Klein set off traveling around the globe. She bought houses in Belgium and Spain and split her time between them. She studied philosophy at the Free University of Brussels. She raised a family. And she dabbled in music with a small, unsuccessful band, Purple Prose. After 10 years, she realized that she wanted to make music on a grand scale again. Now 53, Klein is trying to pick up where she left off. Instead of going solo, she chose to rejuvenate Vaya Con Dios. "I'm working with musicians who take part in the work, and I feel they should get credit," Klein says. "Also, I feel more comfortable using the band's name instead of just my own." Two years ago, Vaya Con Dios released the album The Promise. The band's current show includes songs from that CD, as well hits such as "Heading for a Fall," "Don't Cry for Louie," "What's a Woman" and "Nah Neh Nah." Klein, now a grandmother, says it's fun to be back on stage. "The tour has taken us to many different places, and so far the response is very good. People are singing along. The main thing is if you enjoy what you're doing, people will enjoy what you're doing," she says. "It has been a really nice surprise that people still want to come to our shows." Klein admits she has little knowledge of the Israeli music scene. And while she says she'd love to check out the sounds and sites here - "I'm hoping to arrange a private trip to Israel so that I can enjoy the country" - she won't be doing so during her stopover for the concert. The once extreme rock and roll singer, who says she partied hard before and after concerts, now admits she needs to take it slower so as to guard her health and voice. "I'm not doing things I did before. I take longer breaks between shows," she says, adding that the breaks "also [seem] to be the solution to not burning out." Told she's up against summer music festivals of all sorts and asked why people should come to see Vaya Con Dios in concert, Klein says, "I've never been in the habit of advertising myself. If people come, we'll do our best and give it our all. I'm sure it will be an enjoyable show."