How about some Hebrew qawwali

New Delhi, Jan 28 – He sings soul-stirring Sufi songs – and he does it in Hebrew. Israeli composer Shye Ben-Tzur believes even if the language is unknown to listeners, they will enjoy if ‘the music touches their heart’.

Ben-Tzur, who has created his brand of ‘Hebrew Sufi’ music, was in India to make his album ‘Shoshan’.

‘For a long time, I have been passionate about Sufi music, culture and literature. Since I am from Israel and proficient in Hebrew, I decided to compose music with the influences of Sufi and Hebrew language,’ Ben-Tzur told IANS in an interview.

‘I don’t think language is a barrier. Music is for everyone. People might not understand the language, but they connect to the soul of the song. If the music touches their heart, they enjoy it even if the language is unknown to them. That’s why wherever we play, people enjoy our music to the hilt,’ he said.

His Hebrew Sufi music is interspersed with Rajasthani folk tunes and beats. He says he had attended a jugalbandi of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain in Israel and decided to come to India to learn Hindustani classical music.

‘I have been a musician since childhood and have always looked for different genres and different styles to explore. When I heard Indian music for the first time, I found it very fascinating,’ he said.

‘I came to India and started taking my training in Indian classical. My first teacher was Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar in Bhopal. After training for a few years, I started using things that I learnt in India in my compositions,’ he added.

The artist has released the album ‘Shoshan’ under the label EarthSync.

‘The album is a collaboration of enchanting devotional poetry, irresistible Rajasthani rhythms and electrifying Western grooves. The collaboration is interesting, celebrating different kinds of devotional poetry. But Sufi is the soul of the album,’ informed Ben-Tzur.

The album contains 12 songs in Hebrew, Urdu and Hindi. The Hebrew songs have been sung by Ben-Tzur himself, while the Urdu renditions are by qawwals from Ajmer and Hindi by Shubha Mudgal.

Ben-Tzur along with his group has performed at some of the premier music festivals in India, including Jahan-e-Khusrau, the prestigious international Sufi music festival held in New Delhi. He also performed with his group at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2009 apart from touring his own country.

          Source, Indiatalkies, Ruchika Kher-IANS