Bowery Poetry Club NYC August 12, 2006
By Steve Harris
For those of you have not heard, Smadar Levi is perhaps the most exciting voice in the burgeoning Mediterranean New York City world music scene. Earlier this month, Smadar lent that voice to the cause of peace, when she assembled a benefit concert to end the violence in the Middle East. Proceeds from this concert went to the world famous non-profit organization Seeds of Peace.
The concert, which took place at the Bowery Poetry Club, featured Samdar’s world-class seven piece band in addition to one of Israel’s best known rappers, Sneakas. The Hip-Hop virtuoso opened up the show with four tracks from his forthcoming U.S. album “In It For The Change.” The highlight of Sneakas’ show was his groovy Mediterranean cut “The Middle Eastern Jump Off”, which got the crowd excited and screaming for more. And more they got! Smadar took to the stage with her seductive rendition of Farid El Atrache’s “Ghali Ya Bouy”. When those stirring vocals came alive, the hairs at the back of my head began to stand. I felt as if I was at once removed and transported to another time and another place. To hear an Israeli singer capture the power of this Egyptian classic was indeed a sight and sound to behold.
Another emotive song was Smadar’s original and aptly titled, “Salaam Ulhub” (Peace and Love). This ultra-rhythmic and hypnotic tune featured a fantastic darbuka solo that got the crowd into a frenzy – the song even managed to get a few members in the audience to channel their inner belly dancer.
Perhaps the most powerful moment of the evening came with a Hebrew ballad entitled Shalom Ve-od Yom (Peace and Another Day). I recognized this song from the Israeli band Sheva, but the arrangement that Smadar had prepared for this evening by far surpassed the original.
Smadar began the song by stating that “While governments sign peace treaties, real peace comes from below. It has to be rooted in the people.” The tune featured beautiful melodies and powerful lyrics (which Smadar translated into English). The crescendo of the song came with a vocal eruption by Smadar that was matched by an outpouring of cheers from the pact house.
Appropriately, Smadar’s concert for peace ended with a standing ovation. It was indeed a fantastic musical experience dedicated to a great cause. World music at its best!
For information on Smadar Levi, you can visit her website at www.smadarlevi.com.