Ambassador of music

In the world of music, it is extremely rare to find an artist who appeals to all ages and all ethnic identities, but this is one of the great achievements of Israeli-born musician, Idan Raichel. His success is so supreme, that radio stations inside and outside of Israel regularly play his music. He leads the world in the genre of “world music.” Minutes after advertising an up-and-coming concert, all the tickets are quickly sold out. 

His beginnings as a musician were nothing out of the ordinary. He loved to listen to his grandfather who played the mandolin, and his father introduced him to pop music from all over the world. His mother also played the accordion, which was Raichel’s first instrument. Like many talented Israelis, during his army service he also played in an army band in military bases around the country.  

It is when he left the army and worked as a counsellor at a center for Jewish immigrants that his life in music changed. At this center, he met Jewish people from all over the world. The Ethiopians, Yemenites and North Africans all took him to their respective cultural smokey bars. These evenings were what would influence his music, a music that ultimately developed into a combination of African, Asian and Middle-Eastern fusion. 

His now world-famous band, “The Idan Raichel Project” has played all over the globe. His soul-stirring varied ethnic music is loved by audiences of all kinds and Raichel’s popularity has afforded him the opportunity to play on some of the biggest stages in the music business. Humble to the core, he sees his job as more than that of a musician. Through the ethnic diversity of his band, he regards himself as a musical ambassador who seeks to breaks down barriers between people of different backgrounds and beliefs.

Raichel refuses to play and sing in every song. He prefers to see himself as a director of a movie, rather than a musician, in the sense that sometimes he is in the song, and sometimes he casts others to take the lead instead. 

His band has a lot of “firsts.” It was the first to bring a Palestinian singer into the limelight, the first to include minorities from East Africa, the first to use a German singer in Israeli music, and the first man to use 95 different singers ranging from 16 to 91 years old.

With so many boycotts on Israeli cultural events in Europe, Raichel manages to do what most politicians can’t. He disperses the false preconceived ideas about Israel being an “apartheid state” just by the very presence of the diverse musicians he has on stage. He makes it his business never to talk politics when he performs, but encourages the audiences to embrace the music instead. 

Yet given the life of fame, Raichel knows and keeps to his priorities. When the wife of the now-45 year old gave birth to twins, Idan stepped down from public life for a few years so he could be a father at home and available for his children. If he has learned anything, he once said in an interview to the Israeli press, it is that his favourite music is not performing on a world stage, but the lullabies he sings to his daughters to send them off to sleep.