re-introducing Tamar Eisenman

Shemspeed wrote about Israeli songstress Tamar Eisenman a little while back when Oleh Records gave us the heads up that she would be performing at NYC’s Piano. Whilst browsing we saw that they did an exclusive interview with Tamar in their latest issue. unt here it is….”Tamar Eisenman is at the top of the new wave of musicians from the Holy Land breaking away from many of the musical genres for which the country is best known. Eisenman is already a pretty big deal in Israel. Here is her first American interview.

Why do you sing in English and not in Hebrew?

I usually get that question from Israelis. I spent two years in San Francisco when I was really young. I think that was a big influence on me because I was going to school and I had to read and speak English and that was the first time I was getting into music. Also, I mostly listen to music in English. There is lots of good music from Israel, but I think my guitar speaks English better than it speaks Hebrew.

When did you start playing music?

In San Francisco, when I was six-years old I wanted to play guitar. My parents bought me my first one and the first song I learned to play was an American one, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’—it wasn’t ‘Hava Nagila’, but the next song was probably something like that. I fell in love and when I came back to Israel, I started going to a teacher.

What made you decide to play professionally?

I was in the army and I wasn’t involved in music. I guided soldiers through the countryside of Israel so they would know Israel better. I was in the ‘education unit.’ It was very important because everybody should know about their country, and then after I was in the army I started playing more professionally. Joining bands, playing my own music. Then I started playing on the Israeli Tonight Show and now I’ve released two cds and am about to put out my third.

In America, we have this perception that people in the Army are sort of brutish. We don’t expect to find artists or musicians in the army ranks.

In Israel, in the army, we don’t have to be big, we don’t have to be strong or harsh. It’s different. There are sensitive men fighting in Gaza right now, I think it’s a different army.

I guess it used to be like that in the U.S.

Yes, Elvis was in the Army! In Israel, it is a very unique thing, that a lot of the artists, a lot of the great musicians, started becoming involved in the army bands, and they would come out and some would continue playing music.

Do you think that playing music can help in the larger picture, in terms of the way people perceive Israel?

Definitely. I sing about my life, and my problems and maybe people can relate to that, and I’m doing it from Israel, from Tel Aviv. I feel like myself and others can show a different Israel, a beautiful one.

What kind of music influences you?

I just saw Leonard Cohen a few months ago in London. It was the most amazing show I have ever seen in my life. It was like a religious experience, like seeing a prophet when he’s alive. He’s 74, and dancing on stage, so full of life.

Do you see yourself doing that when you are 74?

I hope so. Not like in a Tina Turner way, but yes, like him. “

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