A Family Affair
Israeli singer Gitit Shoval to perform songs by Jewish composers.
Seven years ago, Israeli singer Gitit Shoval moved to Canada with her husband, music producer Ron Druyan, and their four kids. For her first four years in North America, the famed artist put her career as a singer on hold to take care of her family.
“I was a stay-at-home mom,” says Shoval. “The only thing that was important to me was to get the kids settled in.” But eventually, the singing itch kicked in and she couldn’t wait to hit the stage.
“Around three years ago, I started to feel like I needed to start singing again,” she admits. “I tried to figure out how I could get connected with the local music, the global music. I just wanted to be somehow, as an Israeli, connected to what was going on in North America.”
She surfed the web in search of songs and writers that were popular and came to a realization. “I came across wonderful, wonderful songs that at first, I didn’t know who wrote them. I just liked the songs. I started to sing them and for my voice, it was a perfect match,” Shoval reveals. “And then I researched.”
Shoval realized that both songwriters she heard, George Gershwin and Bob Dylan, were Jewish. “I thought okay, so many songs that I know are so beautiful, I love them so much, maybe we have something. Maybe this is the connection,” she says.
It was then that she geared her research towards the writers themselves instead of the songs. “I just found treasures and treasures and treasures and that’s actually how I came up with this idea,” she says of her upcoming live concert on June 16. “This is my way as an artist to sing in English, but still be connected to the material. I can sing everything but it won’t be from the inside, from my heart.”
The show is called From Gershwin to Dylan, but it will also feature a number of classics – including Broadway tunes – by other Jewish songwriters. When it came to finding a title for the show, Shoval says she had no doubt she would feature Gershwin and Dylan in the title.
“Gershwin, I think, was a genius,” she says. “Unfortunately, he lived just 38 years. He died very very young and it’s unbelievable the amount of songs, the musicals that he wrote during those years.”
She believes Bob Dylan is quite the opposite. “He’s a searcher. He’s looking around all the time for new things. He asks questions all the time. He’s very very unique in what he does.”
Shoval says people from different communities can enjoy the show because the songs are worldwide hits. However, she believes the concert will have a special meaning for Jews. “Every Jewish person who will come into the concert hall will come out much prouder,” says the Israeli singer. “It’s amazing what this small nation did and still does in the music field, it’s just unbelievable.”
The singer came up with the concept for the show, but she’s counting on her entire family to help with the concert. Her husband will be playing piano while two of their children – singer Tutti and her brother Shaqed, a talented drummer and guitarist – will be joining her on stage. The rest of their kids are also involved with the show. Their eldest daughter will be helping with the production elements and their little one has been dubbed the “assistant manager.”
“I’m telling stories about the writers, everything is appropriate,” Shoval laughs. “And I’m bringing my own kids. The four of them will be there and I think there’s an educational value for this show as well.”
Shoval is bringing in two talented musicians from the Berklee College of Music, who will be joining her daughter Tutti next year at the prestigious school. The concert will also feature young musicians from Toronto.
It’s been a few years since Shoval has performed a full-length concert, and she admits that now, she gets more butterflies in her stomach than she used to. “I did a few things here and there, you know, the anthem at the Rogers Centre for a Blue Jays and Red Sox game. But a long performance, it’s been a few years.”
Shoval has a goal for the show. “I can’t just sing and go,” she says. “When I came across these songs, I felt so connected and so good. When I talk about it I get shivers because it’s so amazing and so big. And I feel responsible for those materials that I took. I want to do it so well and I want people to get as excited as I am.”
For tickets, call (416) 736-5888 or visit www.yorku.ca/perform. Proceeds will go towards the emergency room at Barzilai Medical Centre in Ashkelon.