Idan Raichel (Hebrew: עידן רייכל, IPA: ʔiˈdan ˈʁaiχel; b. 12 September 1977) is an Israeli singer-songwriter and a musician, known for his Idan Raichel Project (Hebrew: הפרויקט של עידן רייכל), distinctive for its fusion of electronics, traditional Hebr...
Idan Raichel (Hebrew: עידן רייכל, IPA: ʔiˈdan ˈʁaiχel; b. 12 September 1977) is an Israeli singer-songwriter and a musician, known for his Idan Raichel Project (Hebrew: הפרויקט של עידן רייכל), distinctive for its fusion of electronics, traditional Hebrew texts, Arab and Ethiopian music. Prior to the Project, Raichel was a keyboardist, collaborating with artists such as Ivri Lider.
Idan Raichel was born in Kfar Saba, Israel. He began to play the accordion at the age of nine. He was attracted to gypsy music and tango, and studied jazz piano in high school.
Raichel served in the Israel Defense Forces army band at the age of 18, performing covers of Israeli and Western pop hits at military bases around the country. As the musical director of the group, he learned to do arrangements and produce live shows.
Following his military service, Raichel worked as a counselor at a boarding school for immigrants. There he met young Ethiopian Jews who introduced him to Ethiopian folk and pop music. These included Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke and Gigi, who took him to Ethiopian bars and clubs in Tel Aviv.
After working as a backup musician and recording with some of Israel's most popular singers, he struck out on his own. He began working on a demo recording in Kfar Saba and invited other singers and musicians to collaborate with him to create a new synthesis of sounds and styles.
Due to Israel's absorption of newcomers from the Jewish diaspora, Israel is home to people of Eastern European (Ashkenazi), Middle Eastern (Mizrahi), Mediterranean (Sephardi), and Latin American (Sephardi) descent. This diversity interested Raichel and influenced his musical career. He has worked with Ethiopian Jews, Arabs, traditional Yemenite vocalists, a toaster and percussionist from Suriname and a South African singer, among others.
The global fusion sound of "Bo'ee" ("Come With Me") propelled his group to the top of the charts. The Idan Raichel Project, with its cross-cultural collaborations, set Israeli music on a new path.
This collaboration became a platform for the emergence of ethnic singers such as Cabra Casey, an Ethiopian Jew born in a refugee camp in Sudan and Ravid Kahalani, from the band Yemen Blues who explores his Yemenite roots. Shoshana Damari, a renowned Yemenite-Israeli singer, performed with the group just before she died in 2006 at the age of 86. The Idan Raichel Project has released 4 albums as well as a collection of live recordings in Israel on the Helicon Label. Cumbancha, a US based record label, released the groups first to albums worldwide in 2006, bringing much attention to this inspirational collective. The album also received a nomination as one of the world music albums of the year by the BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music.
The Idan Raichel Project released its second international release "Within My Walls" in 2009. Raichel recorded much of this album while he was on tour in impromptu settings. During Idan's travels, he met with musicians from around the world and exchanged musical ideas with them along the way. He recorded and co-wrote songs with Colombian singer Marta Gómez, Cape Verdean Mayra Andrade and Rwandan/Ugandan Somi.
The group performed at New York's Central Park Summer Stage, Apollo Theater, Town Hall and Radio City Music Hall, Los Angeles' Kodak Theater, the Sydney Opera House, Zenith and Bataclan in Paris, London's Royal Albert Hall, and many international festivals. The group has traveled to and performed across Europe, South and Central America, Hong Kong, India, Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana and more.
Raichel worked with Grammy winner India.Arie on a project called "Open Door." They began working together in 2008 when India was visiting Israel. Together they performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in front of President Barack Obama on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day after Obama's election. They also played "Gift of Acceptance" at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize gala event. In August 2011, the duet performed at the dedication ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. in their US tour. Raichel and India.Arie produced Arie's first single "6th Avenue" from her 2013 album songversation. Shimon Peres, the President of Israel and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, asked Idan to compose music for a poem Peres wrote about Israel's Ethiopian community. The song, "The Eyes of Beta Israel," was performed in front of 3,000 people in Jerusalem in January.
The Idan Raichel Project's album, Quarter to Six, was released in 2013. There are guest appearances by Portuguese fado star Ana Moura, Palestinian-Israeli singer Mira Awad, German counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, Colombia's Marta Gómez, Vieux Farka Touré and some of Israel's up-and-coming artists. Quarter to Six reached triple-platinum sales status in Israel, selling over 116,000 copies.
The Project played at a private concert for President Barack Obama during his visit to Israel in March. Raichel was invited by pop star Alicia Keys to perform a duet with her on stage at the Nokia Stadium in Tel Aviv. One month later, Raichel shared the stage with Patrick Bruel (French superstar). At the end of the Jewish year in September, Pnai Plus, an Israeli entertainment magazine, voted Idan Raichel "Man of the Year". The song "Ba'Layla (At Night)" was voted "Song of the Year". Raichel was also named "Musician of the Year" in 2013 and 2014 by Galgalatz radio station. The Idan Raichel Project placed no.1 in Media Forest's chart of "The Most Broadcast Group" in Israel for 2013 and 2014, as well as "Group of the Year" in various media charts for 2014.
In September 2014, Alicia Keys invited Raichel and Palestinian singer and qanun player Ali Amr to join her on stage at the Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park to perform her song "We Are Here". The event featured artists including Jay Z, Beyoncé, Sting, No Doubt and Carrie Underwood, and appearances by numerous global dignitaries and world leaders. For an audience of 70,000, Keys, Raichel and Amr performed "We Are Here".
On 3 July 2014, Raichel and 18 members of his project performed at Yarkon Park, Tel-Aviv in front of 20,000 people
Since their chance meeting at an airport in 2008, Raichel and Vieux Farka Touré, son of Ali Farka Toure, have formed The Touré-Raichel Collective, a collaboration of Malian and Israeli music. He was invited to Israel to perform at the Tel Aviv Opera House with Raichel in 2010, which led to the formation of The Toure-Raichel Collective. This album reached the number one spot on the iTunes World Music sales charts and made number 2 on the Billboard World Music Chart. In September 2014, The Touré-Raichel Collective released its second album with Daby Touré on bass, Israeli trumpeter Niv Toar, Malian singer Seckouba Diabate and others.
In November 2014, Raichel toured the United States and Canada alongside Vieux Farka Touré with the Touré-Raichel Collective. The performance at Symphony Space in New York City was previewed in a feature article in The New York Times entitled "From Mali to Israel, a Musical Bridge." In the article, New York Times music critic Larry Rohter described the Touré-Raichel Collective as "one of the most fruitful and intriguing collaborations in the grab-bag genre known as world music." While in New York, The Touré-Rachel Collective also appeared on WYNC radio's Soundcheck. The North American tour was followed by a sold-out performance at New Morning in Paris, France on 25 November 2014.
On 5 February 2015, Shimon Peres, the 9th President of the State of Israel, congratulated Raicehl at a concert in Tel- Aviv: "A day will come when we will cross from an era of war to an era of peace and if someone does not know how (to do so), I would offer this bridge that Idan is building".
The Idan Raichel Project represents a hopeful world in which musical collaboration breaks down the barriers between people of different cultures, ethnicities, religions and beliefs.