A few weeks ago, I took my husband to a concert as a surprise. He had no idea where we were going until we got to the box office. His best guess was Ethiopian food, which we’ve both been craving — and this wasn’t entirely off the mark.
We spent the evening with Idan Raichel, whose band is heavily influenced by Ethiopian as well as Middle Eastern music.
In addition to his musical gifts, Idan Raichel — the Israeli singer-songwriter and musician behind The Idan Raichel Project — is an interesting figure with a hushed approach to moving listeners’ emotions.
LEFT: My personal favorite, “Hinech Yafah,” based on the Song of Songs. Listen to it late in the evening.
Idan has gathered a collective of 95 musicians from all over the world who perform in many different languages (Hebrew, Amharic, Arabic, Zulu, etc.) and musical idioms. He is handsome, charismatic, and enigmatic. And also, quite obviously, shy and gentle.
During most of the performance, Idan stationed himself behind a keyboard so far to the side of the stage that it was hard to see him. His three main singers were front and center, and all eyes focused on them throughout the evening, even though he was clearly the spiritual core. Every so often he would come out to dance with the other performers — he’s a nice dancer — but quickly retreat behind his keyboard on the wings of the stage.
At the midway point of the show, Idan made his way center-stage to proudly introduce his musicians, one by one, so they could claim their applause. But when the time came to take a bow at the end of the evening, he was nowhere to be seen.
After returning home, I went online with the hope of learning more about Idan’s life story, and wasn’t surprised to discover that he has managed to assemble a collective of musicians who transcend borders: Ethiopian Jews, Palestinians, Brazilians, South Africans (the list goes on).
…Or that he has written a song titled “Speaking Quietly.”
Update: Idan wants to share his music with you, for free! Simply email “irpgift AT gmail dot com” to receive an automatic reply containing a link full of his beautiful music. And don’t forget to thank him too!
Which are your favorite QUIET musicians?
Thank you for sharing this beautiful music. My favorite Quiet musician at the moment is William Fitzsimmons.
Hmmm… Very enticing alternative sound. Definitely an acquired taste for the American pop-music-ear. I’ve always sensed that listening to music without lyrics, or music with lyrics in a language I don’t understand, gives a different impression than when the intellect processes the meaning of the lyrics. In a sense you “hear more” if it’s pure sound that bypasses the intellect; it’s more direct even if less tangible.
My impression is that Yanni is a “distant musical cousin” of Idan Raichel, with his music’s eclectic international flavor. Yanni gives his individual musicians and vocalists center stage attention, though he doesn’t stay off to the side himself in the way you say Idan Raichel does. I find Yanni quiet and calm, almost spiritual, in the way he speaks. Yanni’s music is mostly instrumental (and therefore having an inherently international appeal), and even his vocal songs don’t have literal meaning, so in that way, also, he’s similar to Idan Raichel singing in a ‘foreign’ language.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for introducing me to this artist.
As a pastor…and introvert…your book and insights have been hugely helpful.
I linked you here:
Anoushka Shankar …… who is actually Norah Jones sister.
Anoushka’s music is beautiful and understated—very welcoming and exceptionally stimulating without
making one feel exhausted or mentally drained after listening.
It is complex, yet it is not layered with 100 different prefab tracks.
If you are unfamiliar with her, I recommend her.
New York Polyphony. Incredible harmonies!
This reminds me of when I went to see Portishead live. The band shyly walked on stage with no fanfare and in-between songs Beth the singer would walk out of any lights on her and into the darkness. Their music attracts introverts already so they could be themselves and not force a lively performance trying to be something they were not. It was great to see that they were ok being who they are and I am sure their fans appreciated them for it.
Alison Krauss, Kate Bush, Mayra Andrade, The Secret Sisters.
Mark, you are so right (RE:Portishead)—— Been years since I saw them and actually I realized they missed my but you are so correct ….
missed my Zune to IPOD transfer …
Dhafer Youssef. Give Les Ondes Orientales live a go. Magic.
[…] discovered Idan Raichel through Susan Cain’s blog in February of this year. Then, he performed for President Obama in March during the Israel visit. […]