September 12, 1977
Singer, composer and producer Idan Raichel is born in Kfar Saba, Israel. His music incorporates Israeli, Middle Eastern, Ethiopian and other international sounds.
Lacking family musical roots, he takes up the accordion at age 9 and is attracted to music from tango to Gypsy. He plays the keyboard and studies jazz as a teenager. After his military service, he becomes a backup and session musician for such performers as Riki Gal, Ivri Lider and Mickey Kam. He builds a studio in his parents’ basement and records a demo. To show his range, he invites a wide variety of artists to help him, and 30 singers, most from Ethiopian backgrounds, participate.
The demo launches the Idan Raichel Project, which seeks to bring together artists from different musical cultures with their own styles. He writes, arranges and produces all of the collective’s songs, and other vocalists and musicians help perform them. The project releases its self-titled debut album, featuring the Hebrew-Amharic single “Bo’ee” (“Come With Me”), in December 2002. With the album’s success, Raichel is named Israel’s Man of the Year in Music in September 2003, and the project wins Discovery of the Year and Band of the Year in October 2003.
The band releases its second album, “Mi’Ma’amakim” (“Out of the Depths”), in January 2005, and a U.S. label, Cumbancha, releases a compilation of 12 songs pulled from the two albums worldwide in November 2006. The project’s next studio albums are “Bein Kirot Beiti” (“Within My Walls”) in November 2008 and “Reva LeShesh” (“Quarter to Six”) in March 2013. The band also releases a three-disc set of live recordings, studio outtakes and other extras in July 2011. Altogether, more than 95 singers ages 16 to 91 from dozens of countries are featured on the albums. Raichel also records three solo albums, starting in 2015, and two albums with Vieux Farka Touré as the Touré-Raichel Collective.
Raichel’s accolades include being named one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by The Jerusalem Post in 2014 and receiving the Unsung Hero Award from Martin Luther King III in 2016. He is afforded the opportunity to perform at many special events, including the Nobel Peace Prize celebration in 2010.