About Idan Raichel
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.