Ehud Banai

Emerging from the famous family of Banai’s who have enriched Israeli culture for decades, Ehud Banai’s oevre covers the indie social comment of his earlier years, and the deeper Jewish cultural riches of his unique voice. His work also displays a particular sensitivity to the play between Israel, Jews, and the modern world.

Everything I know about Israel education I learned from Ehud Banai…

At the age of ten he learned to play the cello, and listened to Elvis PresleyCliff Richard, and later The Beatles.

In 1971 he was drafted to the Israel Defense Forces, and served in the Nahal infantry brigade. In the kibbutz he learned to play the guitar. After his discharge, he moved to London, where he played in the London Underground for six months. It was during this period that he decided to become a musician.He returned to Israel and lived in Ramat Gan and later in Rosh Pina. In 1982 he formed a band with singer Avi Matos. He made several other attempts at a breakthrough during the following years. He tried out for Shlomo Bar‘s band, Habrera Hativit, but wasn’t accepted. In 1986, Ehud and his band “Haplitim” (“The Refugees”) broke through, with the hit single “Ir Miklat” (City of Refuge) and the rock opera “Mami“.

In 1987, Banai and the Refugees released their self-titled debut, which is considered by many to be one of the best and the most important albums of Israeli rock, with original mix of new-wave guitar rock with some oriental rhythms and sounds. Most of the album consisted of protest songs. The songs also included many Biblical subjects and allusions, such as the golden calf and cities of refuge.

Their follow-up, “Karov” (“Close (near)”), released in 1989, had influences raging from early childhood in Jerusalem, traveling in Europe, Bob Dylan, the Banai family’s Afghani/Persian-Jewish background, to Jewish prayer and piyutim, among others. He also released Under the Jasmine Tree, an album of Persian folk tales as told by his father.

During the 1990s, Banai released 3 albums (“The Third” was released in 1992, “In a Little While” was released in 1996, and “Tip Tipa” in 1998). “Ane’ Li” was released in 2004. The song Blues Knaani (Canaanite blues) was written in memory of Meir Ariel, and Hayom (today) was written for his wife.

This page was created with the wonderful support of URJ Camps and Israel Programs


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