Nacht Foundation to fund 80 artists to recreate Israeli musical classics

The roster takes in almost every genre and style on offer across the broad spectrum of the Israeli pop, rock and ethnic music.

JIMBO J – rapper/actor Omer Habaron (photo credit: DANIEL AHARONI)
JIMBO J – rapper/actor Omer Habaron
(photo credit: DANIEL AHARONI)
Of the many victims of the economic backlash of the Health Ministry pandemic restrictions, the members of the local entertainment business make up a sizable proportion. With clubs shut down for the vast majority of the past five months or so, and the normal plethora of festivals across the country completely nullified, artists who mostly make ends meet by strutting their creative wares in front of actual living patrons have been struggling with a bleak present and a dismal outlook.
With little in the way of state support to sustain them, the latest initiative by the Inbar and Marius Nacht Foundation is all the more welcome. A couple of months ago the foundation donated several million shekels to help hundreds of music industry workers, and now it has announced the Tzav Hasha’ah (Order of the Day) project. The new venture will see around 80 artists and bands troop into recording studios to put down contemporary versions of 50 classics from the Great Israeli Songbook.
The roster takes in almost every genre and style on offer across the broad spectrum of the Israeli pop, rock and ethnic music sectors, with the lineup featuring plenty of A-listers alongside artists with a smaller fan base. Titans such as Beri Sacharoff, Aviv Geffen, Shai Tsabari, Danny Sanderson and Chava Alberstein will do their seasoned thing, while singer-songwriters Noga Erez and Natan Goshen and rapper Jasmin Moallem are due to offer their own singular readings of some time-honored Israeli chestnuts.
Rapper-theater actor Omer Habaron – known professionally as Jimbo J – says he is delighted to be on board the Nacht Foundation industry resuscitation drive, on several scores.
“For me, Tzav Hasha’ah is, first and foremost, a welcome initiative on a cultural level,” says the vocalist, who has just put out a new single, “Matkot,” prior to releasing his third album together with the Spa Band. “That is more important than looking at the coronavirus, and the philanthropic aspect of this project. This is an important artistic venture.”
For his own Tzav Hasha’ah slot Habaron has gone for a cover version of “Lo Gomer Et Hahodesh” (Can’t Make Ends Meet), originally recorded by crooner Arik Lavi in 1980, five years before Habaron was born.
“I think it is important to present some of the landmark songs in the history of Israeli music to a new generation who may not know the originals,” Habaron continues. “And I think it is interesting for the artists to try their hand at music which may be a little out of their professional comfort zone.”
Habaron does not really pertain to the latter, having opted for Lavi’s darkly comedic yesteryear number, which, he says, has been covered quite a few times over the past four decades. “I thought the band and I could do something with the groove, and there is something theatrical about the Lavi song. I connect strongly with that.”
The singer gets the bigger socioeconomic-political picture, too.
“This project has come about at a time when the culture industry is waiting for answers and solutions,” he notes, adding that just getting back to what he and his co-professionals do best will provide everyone with a timely fillip. “People, like myself, who have not been able to be so creative recently, now have an opportunity to perform material which I think is relevant for this time, too.”
The Nacht undertaking comes not a moment too soon for the country’s music artists. “It is wonderful that there is someone picking up the gauntlet, and saying there is an entire sector with thousands of people who are wondering why it is OK to do something but forbidden to do something else. And we can finally do something we love and go into recording studios. We have missed that a lot, besides the financial aspect.”
The end products are designed to help generate some much-needed earnings for performers and other music industry workers. The foundation also hopes the project will kick-start a new Israeli music law that will ensure the industry’s future.
“Artists just want to create new things and offer them to the public, and maybe move things in a better direction,” Habaron states.
The recordings are slated for release in the lead-up to Rosh Hashanah.