The Idan Raichel Project Breaks Down Walls and Musical
Boundaries with Their Second International Release
Within My Walls features a diverse roster of guests and promises to bring
even greater worldwide fame to this unique multicultural collective
US/Canada Release Date: February 24, 2009
Europe and the Rest of the World: Late March, 2009 (Date differs per territory)
For more information, review copies, song lyrics & descriptions, interviews,
photographs, tour dates and other support materials, etc. please contact:
Simeon Chapin @ Cumbancha
Tel: +1 (802) 425-2118 * Fax: +1 (866) 340-0054
DECEMBER 2008 - Six years ago, when Israeli keyboardist and composer Idan Raichel was an unknown musician working
in a home studio in his parent’s basement in a small city near Tel Aviv, he never imagined that his experiments fusing
Israeli pop music with Middle Eastern, African, Indian and other global sounds would ever result in the biggest-selling
records in Israeli history and propel him to a role as a major figure in the international global music scene. The Idan
Raichel Project’s explosive rise saw the multicultural collaborative break sales records in Israel and perform across the
globe to rapturous crowds in some of the world’s most prestigious venues. Along the way, his fan base has grown to
include a wide, multigenerational public of non-Israelis, not to mention a few celebrities such as India.Arie, Green Day
producer Rob Cavallo, and movie star Natalie Portman.
It was with this new perspective informed by growing fame and world travels that the dreadlocked leader of this
groundbreaking ensemble returned to the recording studio to produce the Project’s second international release, Within
My Walls. The new album will be released by Cumbancha in the US & Canada on February 24th and in the rest of
the world one month later. Meanwhile, the Project is gearing up for extensive international touring, bringing an
expanded lineup of a diverse mix of musicians to major stages throughout the coming year.
“To say that everything that has happened in the past six years was the fulfillment of a dream would imply that I even
dreamed that any of this could happen,” notes the humble Raichel, whose rise to fame was as much a shock to him as it
was the skeptical Israeli music industry executives who said his multilingual, cross-cultural fusions would never find
mainstream acceptance. Now, with a string of radio hits and concerts at the Sydney Opera House, the Kodak Theater in
Los Angeles, New York’s Central Park SummerStage, as well as concerts in India, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Moscow,
Singapore, and more under his belt, Raichel admits that the reality has exceeded even his wildest dreams.
Indeed, themes of dreams versus reality, the conflicting desire to explore the world or stick with the comforts of home,
and questions regarding how a person achieves personal fulfillment and true love are the underpinnings of Idan Raichel’s
new album. Raichel imagines a person who wakes up in the morning without a dream to fulfill. Does he remain confined
within the walls of his room, laying in bed and dreaming of the world outside? Or does he find a reason to leave the room
and discover what the world has to offer. Raichel seems to be wondering, which is better, the dream – or the reality? The
songs’ poetic lyrics, performed in Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic and Swahili, propose no answers, but lead the listener to
ponder their own conclusions.
Much of Within My Walls was recorded over the past few years while Idan was on tour, during recording sessions in hotel
rooms, backstage dressing areas, private homes and other impromptu settings. During his extensive travels, Idan met
with scores of musicians from diverse backgrounds, and ever the collaborator, he made sure to exchange musical ideas
with them. Along the way, he recorded and co-wrote songs with Colombian singer Marta Gómez, Cape Verdean
luminary Mayra Andrade and the silken-voiced Somi of Rwandan and Ugandan heritage.
Returning to Israel with basic tracks from his musical collaborations while on the road, Idan retreated to a small studio in
Tel Aviv with his usual co-producer, Gilad Shmueli. Inspired by the lush, moody strings of British singer-songwriter Nick
Drake, Idan assembled a 24-piece orchestra and worked with Israeli arranger Assaf Dar to transpose his engaging
melodies to an orchestral setting. Idan also invited some of his favorite musicians, such as percussionist Zohar Fresco,
traditional flute and woodwinds specialist Eyal Sela, Mark Eliyahu on kamancheh (a traditional Persian spike fiddle), and
legendary bassist Alon Nadel to lend their talents to the recording.
Idan also has a gift for finding the perfect vocalists to fit his compositions, including longtime collaborator Maya
Avraham, as well as rising stars Amir Dadon, Anat Ben Hamo and Ilan Damti. Idan invited Moroccan-Israeli singer
Shimon Buskila to sing and write lyrics for the emotionally wrenching track “From the Day You Left”, a raw Arabiclanguage
ode to the singer’s late mother. Much to the delight of his fans, Idan steps out from behind the keyboard and
sings three songs himself.
The result is a deeply moving recording, overflowing with rich melodies, engaging poetry, stunning vocal performances
and intricate arrangements. The album opens with the dreamlike “All the Words”, which features the enchanting
Spanish-language vocals of Marta Gómez. “She wrote her own words for this and I recorded it,” notes Idan, “It’s a very
simple production, just her voice over the percussion her husband, Argentinean percussionist Franco Pinna, laid down.
Then I brought it back to Israel and added the Middle Eastern strings, the tar and the oud, and also the flutes, just to make
it closer to my home, so it would sound like an Israeli track rather than a South American one.”
The album’s title track follows, featuring Idan on vocals. With its lyrics dealing with walls and the way they simultaneously
protect and isolate people, it is easy to interpret the song as a commentary on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but Idan
denies any overt political agenda in his songs. “I have a strong political view about the situation in Israel,” he points out,
“But I refuse to say what I think about it because I still see myself as a representative for the musicians and singers of the
Project in and out of Israel. We may have opposing viewpoints, but we can relate on an artistic level, and I don’t want
differences of opinion on politics to come between us.”
However, Idan does admit “You cannot close people in walls. They’ll immediately want to break them. Even if you have a
kid and you want him to stay away from something, you don’t build a wall around him to force him to stay away, you just
explain to him why it’s important to stay away from this. If you just build a wall and say to stay away, he will break the
wall and want to get there anyway.”
Another highlight of Within My Walls is the soulful Cape Verdean Creole song “With My Eyes Shut” sung by Mayra
Andrade. Idan met Mayra in Paris and was immediately impressed with her talent and professionalism. “Mayra not only
knows where she’s heading to all the time, because she’s managing a great career, but she always remembers where she
came from,” notes Idan, “I think other young people in her age group might do some rap music or whatever, but she still
adores and appreciates the music she grew up with.” The two recorded Mayra’s vocals in the conference room of a
Parisian hotel where Idan set up a remote studio.
The album closes with a heart-wrenching performance by African singer Somi, who sings in Swahili of a young orphaned
girl who calls to light of the moon for someone to save her. During the recording of the song, Somi became so immersed
in the mournful tale of the impact of war and violence on Africa’s youth that she was brought to tears. Magically, the song
manages to make a connection both thematically and musically with the impact of the Holocaust on Idan’s own family.
“The melody of “Maisha” is like a Jewish song from Poland,” he points out, “It is very influenced by the melodies I heard in
my grandmother’s house, very Eastern European, very simple, yet it goes straight to the heart.”
With the release of Within My Walls, the Idan Raichel Project prepares to embark on their next great adventure by
bringing their music to en even wider audience across the globe. The album will be released by Cumbancha, a record
label founded by Jacob Edgar, the longtime head of the A&R and music research at Putumayo. Dedicated to presenting
exceptional artists from around the world to a wider audience, Cumbancha has worked closely with the Idan Raichel
Project since it released their eponymous first international release in the fall of 2006. With major tour dates planned for
2009 in North America, Europe, Latin America and other regions, the Idan Raichel Project will be breaking down walls for
years to come.
The Idan Raichel Project burst onto Israel’s music scene in 2002, changing the face of Israeli popular music and offering
a message of love and tolerance that resonated strongly in a region of the world where headlines are too often
dominated by conflict. With an enchanting blend of African, Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern sounds
coupled with sophisticated production techniques and a spectacular live show, the Idan Raichel Project has become one
of the most unexpected success stories in Israeli music history.
The architect of this unique recording project, is keyboardist, producer and composer Idan Raichel. Originally from Kfar
Saba, Israel, a small city near his current home of Tel Aviv, Idan was born in 1977 to a family with Eastern European roots,
and although music was an important part of his upbringing, his parents did not place much emphasis on performing
music from his particular cultural background. “I think the fact that I didn’t have strong family musical roots is what made
me be very open to music from all over the world,” says Idan.
He started playing the accordion at the age of nine, and even at this young age was attracted to the exotic sounds of
Gypsy music and tango. As a teenager, Idan began playing keyboards, and studied jazz in high school, honing his skills at
improvisation and working with other musicians. In Israel, military service is mandatory for all young men and women,
and at 18 Idan was conscripted into the Israeli army. Rather then heading to the front lines in this volatile region, Idan
joined the Army rock band and toured military bases performing covers of Israeli and European pop hits. As the musical
director of the group, he became adept at arrangements and producing live shows, making his Army experience
productive and positive.
After completing his service, Idan started working as a counselor at a boarding school for immigrants and troubled youth.
Notably, the school was filled with young people from Ethiopia who were part of Israel’s growing community of
Ethiopian Jews. Idan developed friendships with members of the Ethiopian community and began to explore Ethiopian
music and culture. He started going to Ethiopian bars and clubs and soon was invited to Ethiopian synagogues,
weddings and ceremonies.
Meanwhile, Idan had become a successful backup musician and recording session player for some of Israel’s most
popular musicians. He decided it was time to pursue a project that reflected his musical ideals, and began working on a
demo recording in a small studio he set up in the basement of his parent’s home. Idan invited over 70 of his friends and
colleagues from Israel’s diverse music scene to participate in the recordings. He never expected his musical experiments
to turn him into Israel’s biggest musical phenomenon in recent memory.
While most of the Israeli labels considered his work too “ethnic” and too outside of the norms of the formulaic Israeli pop
scene, one A&R man, Gadi Gidor at Helicon Records, instantly heard the potential in Idan’s work and quickly signed him
on to the roster. The subsequent album was an immediate hit. The haunting Ethiopian chorus of the first single, “Bo’ee”
(Come With Me), sounded completely unlike anything most Israelis had heard before, yet, coupled with Idan’s richly
poetic lyrics of love and devotion and sophisticated production techniques, the single was a huge success. The album
went on to sell over 150,000 copies (triple platinum) and firmly establish Idan as a new type of Israeli pop star.
Interest in the recording began to grow while demand for live shows increased, including an offer from the prestigious
Opera House of Tel Aviv. Given the number of musicians who participated in the recordings, it would have been
impossible to have them all appear on stage. Idan chose seven members in addition to himself who were both versatile
and strong individual artists in their own right. “There would be no front man,” Idan said of the concept, “I would sit at the
side and watch things and see what occurs. Every song would have a different singer, we would sit in a half circle and
each musician would have a chance to demonstrate what they have to offer.” The live show became symbolic of the
album, as it brought together a group of people of different backgrounds but each is equal to the other.
This sentiment is reflected in the decision to name the collective The Idan Raichel Project. Says Raichel, “If I had called the
album just ‘Idan Raichel,’ people would have thought that Raichel is the main voice on all the songs. I wrote the songs
and I arranged and produced them, but I perform them together with other vocalists and musicians. On the other hand,
we are not a group. It’s something in between.”
In January 2006, The Idan Raichel Project traveled to Ethiopia, the land that had inspired so much of its music. The trip
marked the first time two of the Project’s lead vocalists were able to return to the land of their birth and also the first time
an Israeli artist had performed in Ethiopia. The Idan Raichel Project opened the Fifth Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis
Ababa, sharing the stage with top Ethiopian performers, including the legendary Mahmoud Ahmed, and were happy to
learn that their songs “Bo'ee” and “Mi’Ma’amakim” had earned a fair share of local radio airplay. The story of the Project’s
emotional trip to Israel became the basis of the documentary film Black Over White.
In the fall of 2006, the record label Cumbancha released the music of The Idan Raichel Project worldwide, bringing even
more renown to this inspirational collective. Billboard Magazine called their international release “One of the most
fascinating titles to emerge in world music this year…a multi-ethnic tour de force.” The New York Times selected the
album as one of the top world music releases of the year, and media from Peru to Portugal was unanimous in their praise.
The album also received a nomination as one of the best world music albums of the year by the BBC Radio 3 Award for
Known around the world, especially in circles of Jewish, Ethiopian and Israeli communities, the Idan Raichel Project
regularly sells out concerts in large performance venues. Since the international release, The Idan Raichel Project has
headlined at New York’s prestigious Central Park SummerStage, the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, the Sydney Opera
House and performed across Europe as well as in Mexico City, Sydney, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Singapore, and Mumbai.
Future touring plans include South Africa and South America. Wherever they perform, The Project unifies the audience in
a celebration of that which is unique about the cultures of the world, as well as that in which we are all alike.
In November 2008, The Idan Raichel Project released the album Within My Walls (Bein Kirot Beiti) in Israel to
tremendous acclaim. The album is to be released worldwide outside of Israel by Cumbancha in early 2009. Much of
Within My Walls was recorded over the past few years while Idan was on tour, during recording sessions in hotel rooms,
backstage dressing areas, private homes and other impromptu settings. His poetic lyrics reflect these travels and
contemplations; sung in Hebrew, Moroccan Arabic, Spanish, Cape Verdean Creole and Swahili, the songs address the
struggle for personal fulfillment and the true meaning of love in a conflicted and complex world.
For Within My Walls, Idan recorded and co-wrote songs with Colombian singer Marta Gómez, Cape Verdean luminary
Mayra Andrade and the silken-voiced Somi of Rwandan and Ugandan heritage. Inspired by the lush, moody strings of
Nick Drake, Idan assembled a 24-piece orchestra and worked with Israeli arranger Assaf Dar to transpose his engaging
melodies into an orchestral format. Idan also invited some of his favorite musicians, such as Middle Eastern percussionist
Zohar Fresco, traditional flute and woodwinds specialist Eyal Sela, Mark Eliyahu on kamancheh (a traditional Persion
fiddle), and legendary bassist Alon Nadel to lend their talents to the recording. The result is a deeply moving recording,
overflowing with rich melodies, engaging poetry, stunning vocal performances and intricate arrangements.
With the release of Within My Walls, the Idan Raichel Project prepares to embark on their next great adventure by
bringing their music to en even wider audience across the globe. With major tour dates planned for 2009 in North
America, Europe, Latin America and other regions, the Idan Raichel Project will be breaking down walls for years to come.
Hi-resolution photos, detailed biographies, tour dates, music videos and other materials are available for download at:
Within My Walls Featured Artist Biographies
Mayra Andrade - Although she was born in Cuba, the young singer Mayra Andrade grew up surrounded buy the Cape
Verdean music and culture of her parents. She started performing at the age of sixteen and released her highly praised
debut album in 2006. She has since become one of the most popular artists in the international world music scene,
performing at New York’s Carnegie Hall and other prestigious venues. Idan met Mayra in Paris, where she now lives, and,
impressed with her lovely voice and presence, invited her to write Creole lyrics and sing on the song “With My Eyes Shut.”
Maya Avraham - The collaboration with Maya started with The Idan Raichel Project's second Israeli album, Out Of The
Depths, on which Maya was the featured soloist on the song “From All the Loves.” Maya joined the touring cast of The
Project and performed with Idan around the world. A year ago Maya released her first solo album and she is now
collecting songs for her second album. Maya was delighted to accept Idan's invitation to sing 'Stay' on the new IRP
Anat Ben-Hamo – A young singer-songwriter who used to sing solo with the jazz band Common Band. Anat is currently
working with her brother on an album influenced by the American folk singers of the ‘60s. Idan saw Anat performing,
loved her voice, her professionalism and her special approach to her music and invited her to record the song “River
Shimon Buskila – A popular singer of Moroccan heritage, Buskila is the founder of the band Sahar, with whom he has
released two albums. Shimon has also written many songs for other artists and has released two solo albums. Shimon
was honored to write for Idan and their collaboration developed into the song “From the Day You Left.”
Amir Dadon – A singer and musician, Amir started his musical career as a child in Eilat, a city on the southern border of
Israel, where Israel meets Egypt and Jordan. In 2001 Amir began performing with his band, taking his original material to
audiences up and down the country. He signed with Israeli label Helicon Records in January 2008 and is currently
completing work on his first album. The connection between Amir and Idan came about when Gilad Shmueli, Idan's coproducer,
heard Amir perform and was so impressed he introduced him to Idan. Idan liked what he saw and heard and
decided to record the song 'Scraps of Life' with Amir.
Ilan Damti – This is the second time that Idan has asked Ilan to sing on one of The Project's albums, the first time being
on the second Israeli album Out Of The Depths for which Ilan soloed on the song “Shuvi El Beiti.” As well as singing on The
Project's albums, Ilan works as the lighting operator for its shows. On the new album Ilan sings the song 'Most of The
Marta Gómez – Since graduating Magna Cum Laude from the Berklee College of Music, Colombian singer and
songwriter Marta Gómez has earned a devoted following through her successful touring and recording career. Not
withstanding her youth, Marta has written over 70 songs, and has four critically acclaimed albums under her belt. She
now lives in the New York City area and is backed in concert by a band that includes her husband, Argentinean
percussionist Franco Pinna.
David “Duke Mushroom” Schommer - A New York-based musician and producer, David Schommer started playing
drums and keyboards when he was just 5 years old, founded his first band when he was 10 and went on to study at
Boston’s prestigious Berklee School of Music. Schommer has worked in the techno scene of Detroit, the TV and film
industry in Los Angeles, and even took a turn Off-Broadway as a member of the original US cast of Stomp. Though
earning fame as a producer and musician for pop stars such as Janet Jackson and Gloria Estefan, Schommer decided to
turn his attention to his passion for Ethiopian music, and working with producer Steve Mac, released the acclaimed
album Bole 2 Harlem in 2006. It was during his research for this project in Ethiopia that Schommer first came across Idan
Raichel, and Idan remembers him as the “white guy with a funny beard” that jumped on stage and started dancing
during the Idan Raichel’s Project’s January 2006 concert in Addis Ababa. Eventually, the two formally met in New York
and have become close friends and collaborators.
Gilad Shmueli - Musician and producer, who has played the drums since his childhood, at age 16 Gilad played with a
band called Riding Gimel, formed by his older brothers. At 17, Gilan started playing with Ivri Lider, with whom he still
records and performs, and has also worked with other artists including Funkenstein, Gilad Segev and Ben Artzi. Idan and
Gilad first met when they were both playing with Ivri Lider. Since then and right from The Project's first album, Gilad has
worked with Idan as co-producer and arranger. Gilad also collaborates with Idan in the live shows.
Somi – L. Kabasomi Kakoma, better known as Somi, was born in Illinois to East African parents, whose careers as
diplomats and professors exposed her to music and culture from all over the world. Somi has lived in Zambia, Kenya and
Tanzania, and now makes her home in New York City, where she performs regularly. Somi has released two albums,
which feature her unique blend of jazz, African music and soul. Idan was introduced to Somi through a mutual friend,
Cameroonian singer Kaïssa, and they immediately hit it off and agreed to perform and record together.
Shai Tzabari - Shai took his first musical steps at his neighborhood Yemenite Synagogue, under the wings of his father
the Cantor. Shai studied at the Rimon School of Music and was a member in the band Majik. After numerous
collaborations with other popular Israeli artists, including Ehud Banai, Tal Segev, Zeev Tene, and Bari Saharof, Shai is now
working on his solo album. Idan remembered how struck he was by Shai's voice when he first heard him singing eight
years ago, and invited Shai to record the song “Locked in His Gaze” for the new IRP album.
Hi-resolution photos, detailed biographies, tour dates, music videos and other materials are available