It shouldn’t all be about me, so I think that I’ll be writing some posts in the near future about people who inspire me. The first of them is a – in my eyes – amazing singer, ‘Amir Benayoun, who I really have appreciated since my first contact with Israeli music.
‘Amir was born in Be’er Shevah by Moroccan parents, being exposed to music from childhood, having a father who was an Oud artist. ‘Amir himself began to write his own music from a young age, wanting to devote his life to his love. Unfortunately, when he was inscribed to the army, he was soon released because of problems with drugs, something he went to rehab to get out of.
After that he worked with his father, in order to save enough money to record his first album, Raq At (Only You), which soon was followed by his second album, Oto Maqom, Oto Ruah (Same Place, Same Spirit). His third album, Shalechet (Fall), is considered his breakthrough, establishing him as one of the bigger stars in the Israeli music industry. After that he has recorded eight other records; Nizaht Iti HaChol (You Won Everything With Me), Hakol ‘Ad LeChan (Everything until Here), Aluf BeShahor (Commander In Black), ‘Omed BaSha’ar (Standing In The Gate), Mahshavoth (Thoughts), Leda’ath HaChol (To Know It All), Zini, ‘Etz Al May’im (Tree On Water).
The album HaKol ‘Ad LeChan is the first he published as independent, after haven broken with the music industry in 2004. This is also after he “returned” to the religion, becoming Hozer T’shuvah.
In 2011 he recorded the album Zini in support of the Syrian people, being oppressed by al-Assad.
His style is somehow melancholic and very catching. Some describe him as being “crying,” which has some justification. Personally his style really catches me, whether he sings songs of joy or more sad songs. Anyway, instead of wasting a lot of words on him, I’ll let you judge for yourself.
HaKol ‘Ad LeChan:
Ana (From Zini):
Why is he an inspiration for me?
One reason is his break with fame, in order to find the deeper meaning with existence. One thing is to be an “ordinary” person (no such thing, we are all created as miracles), but to give up fame, to acknowledge the emptiness which often comes with a life like that, takes a man or at least an open heart. That he is ready to stand strong on his principles, even to the extent that refusing to bend in order to have his albums, is another trait I respect. He believed in himself, and he succeeded in it. But one thing that really makes me respect him, is that he rose after having felled. I’ve never been on drugs myself, but I know how it is to be broken and having to admit that to oneself, that you simply can’t make it on your own, and anyone doing that and getting out of it with success, deserves my respect.
There’s also another matter, him as a person. I’ve never had the chance to meet him in person, unfortunate, but all the interviews I’ve seen with him, the articles I’ve wrote about him, the performances I’ve seen, he comes out as an humble person, one accepting his role and place in this world, without wanting to do a big deal out of himself.
I believe that also can be seen from the song, HaKol ‘Ad le’Chan, which I’ve presented you for above, which is about how we can feel strong, being mislead by false words of praise, though still knowing that it will end someday, leaving us on the ground, and if that is all we build our lives on, then there’s nothing to it.
Anyway, I hope you will appreciate him as much as I do.
 Hozer T’shuvah is the Hebrew designation for a Jew who becomes religious, not to confuse with a non-Jew who converts, who is called “Ger Tzedeq,” “Righteous Convert.”