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Ishtar is an Israeli-born pop singer and is lead singer of Alabina – who have sold millions of records world wide. Enthusiastic and exuberant on stage, Ishtar established an excellent reputation on the live scene and is known as the Queen of world music and widely recognised as the Madonna of the Middle East.
Ishtar was born in Kiryat Atta, near Haifa, to an Egyptian-Jewish mother and a Moroccan-Jewish father, both of Sephardic heritage, who immigrated to Israel. Ishtar began performing in clubs at age 14 and continued even while enrolled in the IDF, where she served as a helicopter technician. Though she was born Eti Zach, she chose the name ‘Ishtar’, a Mesopotamian Goddess, because her grandmother called her Ester, which “with her Egyptian accent it sounded like Ishtar”. She performs in Hebrew, English, Arabic, Bulgarian, French and Spanish.
Ishtar moved to France and began working as a backup vocalist for several flamenco type acts. It was here she was discovered by Charles Ibgui who, enamored with her voice, introduced her to Los Niños de Sara. She joined the group as a lead vocalist and together they performed under the name Alabina. After two extremely successful albums with Alabina (charting in the top 10 and top 40 several times in the US alone), Ishtar decided to do a solo project of her own (though still a member of the group), releasing La Voix d’Alabina (The Voice of Alabina) . It stepped up the Oriental pop sound while mixing in some traditional Arabic sounds and dance beats. Ishtar later hosted a few television shows in Israel, singing duos with local stars such as Pavlo Rosenberg, Avihu Medina, and David D’Or. Ishtar continued to tour the world with Alabina for the next few years as she worked on her second album, Truly Emet, this time with most of the songs being in Hebrew. However she decided to sing more songs in mixes of Arabic and Hebrew to show that there could be harmony between the two cultures. Truly Emet was again a dance floor success.
Alabina is a French-based group that performs a mix of world music: Hebrew, Middle Eastern, Arabic, French, Spanish Gypsy music and at times, Western pop. Alabina consists of lead singer Ishtar, who does the female vocals, and the band Los Niños de Sara, who provide male vocals and music. Los Niños de Sara usually sang in Spanish while Ishtar would sing in Spanish, Arabic, French, Hebrew, or a mix of the languages – several songs were sung in Spanish and Arabic. Alabina’s often takes older songs and adds a mix of styles and languages and Alabina’s own flavor.
Alabina became a worldwide success charting in the top 10 and top 40 several times in the US alone. The single “Alabina” spent 21 weeks in the charts.
Watch Alabina Alabina and the Gypsy Kings singing Eres Tu here.
Ivri Lider is an Israeli pop star and part of the duo T¥P, also known as ‘The Young Professionals’. He is one of the most successful Israeli musicians of his generation. Through his lyrics, Ivri brings to life the thoughts and day-to-day encounters of a new generation of Israelis – a generation he calls “The New People.” The combination of Ivri’s songwriting and his unique voice have made him not only a star, but one of the most adored and respected people in Israel.
Born on a Kibbutz in 1974, Ivri took his first musical steps while still in high school. At the age of 17, he started a group called Everyone Does It Like This, whose gigs included a performance at the legendary Roxanne club in Tel Aviv. As he continued to refine musical skills throughout his teen years, renowned Israeli modern dance choreographer Anat Danieli commissioned Lider to compose the music for two of her pieces, “Kisses” and “October.” At the young age of 21, Israel’s leading dance company, Bat Sheva, chose Lider to compose the entire score for Z/NA, making him the youngest person to compose an entire evening of music in the company’s history. Just a few years later, one of Israel’s largest record labels, Helicon Records, signed Ivri to produce his first album after receiving his demo tape in the mail.
His debut album, “Caressing And Lying”, was produced by Yo’ad Nevo. The singles “Leonardo” and “Always Love” were overnight radio hits, skyrocketing the record to Platinum status. Ivri’s second album, “Better Nothing Than Almost”, was released two years later and thanks to Ivri’s haunting voice and vivid lyrics also received Platinum status. Ivri’s second tour, “Better Nothing Than Almost”, ran for 150 performances and won many prestigious awards, including Performer of the Year, awarded at the Israeli Music Industry Awards ceremony. The astounding success of his first two albums established Ivri as more than just another singer-songwriter, but as the voice of a new generation of Israelis. The innovative performances that accompanied the release of his third album solidified Lider’s status as one of the most popular artists among students and young people in Israel. He is widely considered to be a trendsetter for the new generation.
Ivri later collaborated with Idan Raichel, producing and arranging the song “Bo’i” which became a major chart topper.
Not limiting his musical prowess to just record stores, Ivri composed original music for Eytan Fox and Gal Uchovsky’s film “Yossi and Jagger.” The soundtrack included a cover of Rita’s 1980s hit “Come” sung by Ivri. This new interpretation of Rita’s classic hit received rave reviews and became one of 2003’s most popular tracks on radio throughout the country. In 2003 Lider received the Lyricist of the Year award from ACUM, Israeli’s copyright collection society.
His lbum “It’s Not The Same Thing” was released in February 2005 and immediately became a hit, again reaching Gold status in no time. In this album, Ivri decided to create a clean and completely different sound. An orchestra of 40 musicians played the string instruments heard throughout the album. Ivri’s musical gamble paid off. The album’s first single, “I’ve Known Love,” was a soft, sweet piano-based single that became an instant success, further solidifying Ivri’s place as a leading Israeli musician. In 2006, Ivri released the highly-anticipated Live DVD/CD in Tel Aviv. The live DVD and CD reached gold status immediately.
By the end of the summer of 2006, Ivri was selected by Time Out Tel Aviv to be on their list of the “200 Coolest People” and was also mentioned as one of “The Most Beautiful People” on the Hip List of Israel’s “People” magazine.
In 2007 Sony Music released compilation ‘Music With A Twist’. Ivri’s single, “Jesse,” was one of thousands of entries received from across the world, and Ivri was the only non-American artist chosen to appear on the CD. The video for “Jesse,” which was filmed in Northern Tel Aviv, has received widespread buzz in the blogosphere, even prompting Perez Hilton to post the video on his website and call it “Just Gorgeous.” The video is now on rotation on LOGO’s Click List and generating lots of traffic on YouTube.
In June, Ivri wrapped up his 2 year, 300 performance tour for “It’s Not The Same Thing.” The final show, which took place in Tel Aviv, drew a record crowd and was a huge success. The following month, Ivri was named to OUT Magazine’s list of the 100 most important people of 2007. He was also featured on CBS News on LOGO, where he was interviewed by fellow Israeli, Itay Hod. Ivri produced Rita’s 7th studio album, “Remazim” (Clues) and the tour’s musical production, which quickly became a smash hit.
Lider was awarded Male Singer of the Year award from all the major national and local radio stations, and was then awarded Best Male Singer and Best Live Show at the Israeli Music Awards. During 2009 Ivri was announced by Timeout Tel Aviv as one of 10 people who have the most significant impact on the Israeli music industry.
Alexandra Burke rose to fame after winning the fifth series of British television series The X Factor in 2008. Before the X Factor Burke was a singer in the Jewish wedding band Gilev.
Burke currently stands as one of the most successful winners of The X Factor. She is signed to four record labels: Epic Records, RCA Records, Subliminal and Syco Music. After winning The X Factor, Burke released the winner’s single and debut single “Hallelujah”, which became the current European record holder for single sales over a period of 24 hours, selling 105,000 in one day. The song also became the top-selling single of 2008 in the UK and the UK’s Christmas 2008 number one. By January 2009, the single had sold over one million copies in the UK alone, a first for a British female soloist.
Burke went on to release her Debut album, Overcome, in 2009, which debuted at number-one on the UK Album Charts and spawned four number-one singles on the UK Singles Chart and the Irish Singles Chart—”Hallelujah”, “Bad Boys”, selling over 780,000 in the UK and becoming a Platinum selling single, “All Night Long” and “Start Without You”—and the album became one of the most successful albums of that year in the UK, the singles released from the album earned her three BRIT Award nominations. The album also saw the release of UK top 10 hit, “Broken Heels” and “The Silence”.
In late 2010, Burke decided to release Overcome: Deluxe Edition. Overcome and the six singles released from the album have sold over four million record in the UK alone.
“Elephant” was released as Burke’s comeback single in February 2012, which became a hit single, with a peak position of number three in the UK. “Let It Go” served as the second single and Burke’s second album, Heartbreak on Hold, was released in June 2012.
Burke is heavily involved with charities and is a known supporter for No Child Born to Die, Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion and has been involved in two number-one charity singles on the UK and Irish Singles Charts, this includes “Hero” (2008) with her fellow X Factor Finalists and then again as part of a celebrity super group, Helping Haiti and released “Everybody Hurts” (2010), Burke thought that she was not doing enough for the Haitian people and travelled to Haiti to give them clothes and food. In early 2011, Burke began her solo tour, All Night Long Tour and she was also invited to perform on Beyoncé Knowles’s I Am… Tour.
Burke was the first and only X Factor contestant to have a judging role, when she became a guest judge on BBC’s So You Think You Can Dance UK. She later became the first contestant of The X Factor to return to the show as a judge, when she joined the show as a guest judge during the Eighth series live finals.
Spelbound are a gymnastic troupe from the United Kingdom who rose to fame in 2010, winning the fourth series of Britain’s Got Talent.
The original group was composed of seven boys and six girls who have won numerous medals in acrobatic gymnastics. Additionally, some of them have taken home European and World medals. Six members went on to the 2010 world championships subsequent to BGT with gold medals in their respective disciplines, whilst junior women’s pair won a silver medal.
They have competed for their club and for Great Britain all over Europe, including the 2008 Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships, with six of them competing for GB in Taiwan at the 2009 World Games, an Olympic style event for non-Olympic events.
Spelbound auditioned for BGT, and wowed the judges and the crowd from the start. They went on to the semi-finals and finals, significantly beating Twist and Pulse in the final round to win the competition in front of over 15 million TV viewers. They went on to perform at the Royal Variety Show in December.
Spelbound performed twice for the Olympic audience at Wembley Arena for Rhythmic Gymnastics at London 2012 Olympics on the 10 and 11 August 2012. Spelbound also performed twice at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The Closing Ceremony was watched by 26.3 million viewers in the UK.
In November 2012 Spelbound performed on Royal Variety Performance in front of Queen Elizabeth II at Royal Albert Hall with Diversity, Paul Potts and Stavros Flatley.
Jahloul “Chico” Bouchikhi is a musician and a co-founder of the Gipsy Kings. Gypsy Kings became popular with their self-titled first album, Gipsy Kings, which included the famous song “Bamboleo“. The album was released in the United States and spent 40 weeks on the charts, one of few Spanish language albums to do so.
Chico and Alabina have performed together many times all over Europe. Chico is also UNESCO’s special envoy for peace, and has held a major concert in Israel with his band. He has also played before Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat during the Oslo Accords peace negotiations.
Multi award winning writer and comedian Mark Maier, is a highly sought after performer on both the national and international comedy circuits. He has played Germany, Holland, Ireland, Hong Kong, Bahamas, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand – and has also appeared at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles and Caroline’s in New York.
Recent professional highlights include two series of ‘Trapped’ for BBC Radio 4 – a show both written and performed by Mark (with a third series already penned), ‘Inner Voices of Men’ an Alan Bennett style talking heads series for BBC R4 and ‘Object Lessons’ – the radio adaptation of his hit 2004 Edinburgh show.
Mark’s many television appearances include; The Stand Up Show (BBC1), Dating The Enemy (ITV), Bring Me The Head of Light Entertainment, (CH5), Five’s Company (CH5), The World Stands Up (Paramount Comedy), Comedy Rules (SKY) & Live At Jongleurs (LWT). As an actor he appeared in Rory Bremner, Who Else? (CH4) and recently filmed an episode of My Hero (BBC 1).
Mark regularly performs with the critically-acclaimed ‘Comedy Store Players’. He has taught improvisational comedy in London and founded the group ‘MadLib’ which performed at the Edinburgh Festival. His ability to tailor material on demand has also made him very popular with corporate bookers.
“A multi-talented, mercurial comedian” – The Independent
Before pursuing his lifelong interest in comedy, Mark had a successful career in advertising. In America he wrote and performed in radio commercials and won numerous writing awards, including the prestigious ‘World’s Best Broadcasting Advertisement’ at the Hollywood Radio & Television Awards. He continues to be in demand for voice over work and has an extensive repertoire of accents.
Visit Mark’s website here.
Youth Aliyah Music Ensemble
In 1994 the best musicians from youth villages in Israel were chosen to form the Symphony Orchestra of Israeli youth villages. Every year since, Dr. Lev Arstein, the orchestra’s music director picks the most promising musicans from youth villages around the country, including Aloney Yitzchak. They meet regularly for rehearsals; this not only develops the musicianship of the youngsters but further underpins the educational goals of the village way: to support talent, develop gifted students, help their integration and instil the values of tolerance and cooperation. Thanks to the efforts of its music director and conductor Dr Lev Arstein, who immigrated to Israel in 1991, the members of the orchestra have today formed a group of well-educated and disciplined musicians – enabling several of them to excel each year. Many of the orchestra’s graduates have become professional musicians and are members of successful orchestras in Israel. Others still have been able to earn money by playing at different events, thus enabling them to finance their studies towards different careers. The musical repertory of the orchestra reflects the wide cultural background of the members of the orchestra who come from as far afield as Ethiopia and Russia. The orchestra performs publicly on a regular basis in Germany and Israel and, throughout the year, complements the musical life of the villages.
Vanessa Jane Feltz is an English television personality, broadcaster and journalist. She currently presents an early morning radio show on BBC Radio 2 and a mid morning phone-in show on BBC London 94.9. In January 2011, she started hosting The Vanessa Show on Channel 5.
Vanessa Feltz was born in Islington, London, and grew up in Pine Grove, Totteridge. On her radio show she frequently refers to Totteridge as “the Beverly Hills of North London”, and her middle-class Jewish background as like “growing up in Fiddler on the Roof [with her] as Topol”.
After graduating from Cambridge University Feltz wrote for The Jewish Chronicle then the Daily Mirror. She also presented a Jewish radio show on BBC GLR (now BBC London 94.9). She replaced Paula Yates on Channel 4 morning TV show The Big Breakfast, presenting a regular item where she interviewed celebrities whilst lying on a bed. She also presented a show called Value for Money. She then presented the ITV daytime television chat show Vanessa and then moved to the BBC to host a similar show, The Vanessa Show, in 1998.
Feltz has been a regular guest on The Wright Stuff and presented two series of Cosmetic Surgery Live, both screened on Channel Five. From late 2002 she has presented phone-in shows on BBC London 94.9.She also writes a weekly column on her views on topical subjects, published in the Tuesday Daily Express newspaper and is the agony aunt at Reveal Magazine. In December 2006 she made a comeback to ITV as the host of talk show Vanessa’s Real Lives, and she played herself in an episode of BBC drama series Hotel Babylon.
On 11 May 2009 Feltz was named Speech Radio Personality of the Year at the Sony Radio Academy Awards.
Recently Feltz took on a greater workload of radio and TV presenting. She took over the BBC Radio 2 Early Breakfast Show in January each weekday in the slot formerly occupied by Sarah Kennedy. Writing of her Radio 2 debut, Daily Telegraph radio critic, Gillian Reynolds described Feltz’s voice as “like lemon tea with honey.” She also continued her morning phone-in programme on BBC London 94.9 each weekday. On 10 January, Feltz launched TV chat show, The Vanessa Show on Channel 5. The guardian.co.uk’s “Media Monkey” blog dubbed Feltz “officially the hardest working woman in broadcasting” due to her weekday broadcasting commitments.