Idan Raichel, Singer-Songwriter, Keeps Quiet, Lets His Music Do the Talking

At the beginning of 2013, I took my husband to a concert as a surprise. He had no idea where we were going until we got to the box office. His best guess was Ethiopian food, which we’ve both been craving—and this wasn’t entirely off the mark.

We spent the evening with Idan Raichel, whose band is heavily influenced by Ethiopian as well as Middle Eastern music.

My personal favorite, “Hinech Yafah,” based on the Song of Songs. Listen to it late in the evening.

In addition to his musical gifts, Idan Raichel—the Israeli singer-songwriter and musician behind The Idan Raichel Project—is an interesting figure with a hushed approach to moving listeners’ emotions.

Idan has gathered a collective of 95 musicians from all over the world who perform in many different languages (Hebrew, Amharic, Arabic, Zulu, etc.) and musical idioms. He is handsome, charismatic, and enigmatic. And also, quite obviously, shy and gentle.

During most of the performance, Idan stationed himself behind a keyboard so far to the side of the stage that it was hard to see him. His three main singers were front and center, and all eyes focused on them throughout the evening even though he was clearly the spiritual core. Every so often, he would come out to dance with the other performers—he’s a nice dancer—but quickly retreat behind his keyboard on the wings of the stage.

At the midway point of the show, Idan made his way center-stage to proudly introduce his musicians, one by one, so they could claim their applause. But when the time came to take a bow at the end of the evening, he was nowhere to be seen.

After returning home, I went online with the hope of learning more about Idan’s life story and wasn’t surprised to discover that he has managed to assemble a collective of musicians who transcend borders: Ethiopian Jews, Palestinians, Brazilians, South Africans (the list goes on)…

…or that he has written a song titled “Speaking Quietly.”

Which are your favorite Quiet musicians?

*The above post previously appeared on Susan Cain’s former blog, The Power of Introverts.

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