fbpx
Monday, August 3, 2020

Harel Skaat, an Israeli pop “Idol” comes to the Ford Amphitheatre

Enjoying this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

One way to describe Israeli pop star Harel Skaat to American pop aficionados is to call him the Israeli “Clay Aiken”—a comparison Skaat might not like, considering he shies away from comparisons lest they smear his individuality.

But like the 2003 “American Idol” runner-up, Aiken, Skaat reached the finale of the second season of his national singing contest, “Kochav Nolad,” only to emerge more famous than the winner.  To be fair, Skaat has probably enjoyed more radio hits in his home country, and he’s way more handsome than Aiken; yet their lean frames, thick, spiky hair and happy go-lucky styles have made both teenage heartthrobs. They may have broken their share of ‘tween hearts when they made headlines announcing they were gay.

Six years after winning “Kochav Nolad” in 2004, Skaat felt it was time to come out. He had developed a fan base that appreciated him first and foremost as an artist.

“I was not ashamed of anything and really proud of myself and my choices, and I was proud of how God created me, so it wasn’t difficult, but to expose yourself is always kind of annoying,” Skaat said in a phone interview from Tel Aviv, speaking in English, a skill he’s fine-tuning for an upcoming English album.  “I don’t think it changed anything; actually, the opposite. I feel when I go out on the streets people respect me for sharing my life with them, and the fact that they heard me talking about myself like a human being and not a singer or a celebrity, it really affected them.”

He also says Israel has a relatively open attitude to gay entertainers. Pop rock singer-songwriter, Ivri Lider, is another example who enjoys wide commercial success in Israel.

“It’s crazy because Israel’s supposed to be more traditional, and it’s not like that in the real world,” Skaat said. “I’m very happy for that because people are very open-minded here, maybe not all the people in Israel, but most of them, and I see that now.”

His main goal as an artist is to touch people through his soulful pop, no matter if songs are sung in Hebrew, Spanish, or English or if love ballads are directed to men or women. The power of music comes through its emotive storytelling.

“Everyone understands the worldwide language,” he said. “I think I have the opportunity to sing in other languages, even in Hebrew, and touch people by it, even if they don’t understand a word.”

That’s what he felt he proudly accomplished when he took 14th place for Israel and a slew of awards at the 2010 Eurovision Singing Contest. It’s what he plans to do at the Ford Amphitheatre on Aug. 28, when he performs alongside Macy Gray, R&B singer Abraham McDonald, and rapper MC Lyte at Keshet Chaim Dance Ensemble’s “Rhythm & Roots” multi-cultural extravaganza benefiting Children Uniting Nations, which also features Los Angeles’ African American Lula Washington Dance Theater and multi-ethnic, interfaith Agape International Choir.

Skaat grew-up in a traditional Jewish Yemenite and Iraqi home in Kfar Saba. He recalls sitting on his cantor grandfather’s lap in synagogue listening to him wail the Hebrew hymns.

“It was a vocal lesson for me,” Skaat said. “I learned how to pronounce the words right, and one of the most important things in music is to pronounce the words right.”

Skaat’s voice has a spiritual quality—it’s smooth and clear, with an angelic yearning and guttural power characteristic among singers of Yemenite origin (Ofra Haza, for one).  His first eponymous album went platinum, while his second, Dmuyot (Figures), took gold (20,000 copies sold in Israel). When pressed for his musical inspirations, he lists Stevie Wonder, Barbara Streisand, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, James Blunt, Justin Timberlake, and Beyonce.

“You can see I really admire singers.”

Lately, Skaat has moved beyond the stage and studio to activism. Several months ago, he penned an article in Israel’s largest daily, Yediot Aharonot, urging Israelis to take to the streets and protest social injustices they experience.  With such protests now sweeping Israel, he likes to think his words were prophetic.

“I think we are making history now in Israel because we finally went out of our living rooms and out of our conversations with friends about living in Israel and life in Israel and the financial issues, and we went out to the streets.”

He recently performed at a protest rally in Jerusalem, feeling one with the average Israeli, and while he uses his influence as a well-known figure to promote causes that are important to him, he thinks that, ultimately, Israeli pop stars aren’t “idols,” but one of the people.

“People in Israel are the same. You don’t have stars you can’t touch.”

” title=”Eurovision”>Eurovision

For more information on the Aug. 28 concert, visit

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

What This Tisha B’Av Meant for Me

Next Tisha B’Av may be different. We may be commemorating the loss of something much more meaningful.

Why We Should Care How Seth Rogen Went from Jewish Day School to Saying ‘WTF’ to Israel

Rogen is not just an A-list celebrity with a platform and a captive audience. He also is the product of Jewish and Israel education.

Ukraine to Let in at Least 5,000 Uman Pilgrims for Rosh Hashanah Chief Rabbi Says

The quota may rise as high as 8,000, but the pilgrims will have to wear face masks in crowded places and refrain from gatherings of more than 30 people.

The Israel File: Numbers, Graphs and Extras

This post is part of The Israel File, our new Sunday newsletter that summarizes everything you need to know about the last week and...

Nick Cannon Read Bari Weiss’ Book on Anti-Semitism During Tisha B’Av, Calls it ‘Powerful’

"Today is a new day of improving our own words and actions towards clarity and compassion."

A Bipartisan Protest Movement is Rocking Israel and Growing by the Week

As the protests have widened in focus, demonstrators have faced harsh crackdowns by police, who have drawn criticism for using water cannons and tear gas.

Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum Says She Won’t Stand for Authoritarianism in Portland

When reports emerged of federal agents seizing protesters from the streets of Portland and putting them in unmarked vans, Rosenblum sued to get federal officers off the street.

The Pandemic’s First High Holy Days Season Has Synagogues Wondering: Will People Pay Dues?

Across the country, synagogues are bracing for a significant reduction in revenues.

Seattle’s Only Freestanding, Certified Kosher Restaurant Closes Amid Pandemic Pressure

There are a handful of kosher restaurants in the Seattle suburbs.

Shalhevet Institute Explores Black and Orthodox Jewish Identities

The four panelists were invited to give a constructive rebuke to the Orthodox community for the way that it deals with issues of race.

Culture

Shalhevet Institute Explores Black and Orthodox Jewish Identities

The four panelists were invited to give a constructive rebuke to the Orthodox community for the way that it deals with issues of race.

NY Comedy Club Owner Al Martin on What Stand-Up Will Look Like Post-Pandemic

I want to make sure we can get ready to open. It’s going to be a whole new comedy world.

This Penny Picture Frame Just Makes Cents

Have loose change rolling around in your house? Turn them into an art project!

A Jew’s Brazilian Journey Revived in New Translation of ‘On a Clear April Morning’

Marcos Iolovitch’s “On a Clear April Morning” is an especially exotic version of the Jewish immigrant experience.

Wiley Apologizes for ‘Comments That Were Looked at as Anti-Semitic’

"My comments should not have been directed to all Jews or Jewish people."

Latest Articles
Latest

What This Tisha B’Av Meant for Me

Next Tisha B’Av may be different. We may be commemorating the loss of something much more meaningful.

Why We Should Care How Seth Rogen Went from Jewish Day School to Saying ‘WTF’ to Israel

Rogen is not just an A-list celebrity with a platform and a captive audience. He also is the product of Jewish and Israel education.

Ukraine to Let in at Least 5,000 Uman Pilgrims for Rosh Hashanah Chief Rabbi Says

The quota may rise as high as 8,000, but the pilgrims will have to wear face masks in crowded places and refrain from gatherings of more than 30 people.

The Israel File: Numbers, Graphs and Extras

This post is part of The Israel File, our new Sunday newsletter that summarizes everything you need to know about the last week and...

Nick Cannon Read Bari Weiss’ Book on Anti-Semitism During Tisha B’Av, Calls it ‘Powerful’

"Today is a new day of improving our own words and actions towards clarity and compassion."

Hollywood

Roy Moore’s Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Over Being Pranked Can Proceed, Judge Rules

By the time the episode aired, it was widely known that Cohen was punking public figures.

‘Expecting Amy’ Highlights a New Comedy Dynamic of Jewish Mothers Making, Not Being, the Jokes

Jewish moms like Amy Schumer, who were once the material, have become the premier comics of this age.

Podcasts

Pandemic Times Episode 74: A Test of Jewish Resiliency

New David Suissa Podcast Every Monday and Friday. Rabbi Nicole Guzik shares her thoughts on "opting in" to communal life during these pandemic times. How do...

Seth Rogen’s in An American Pickle

Esther's already seen "An American Pickle" and Erin is still waiting; until the Bagels are brined and ready to discuss it, they join in...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x