Israeli Band of Disabled Musicians to Tour USA, Canada, UK & Mexico
The Shalva Band, a Jerusalem-based group comprised of young musicians with disabilities, released its first professional music video ahead of its world tour to Canada, the United States, Mexico and the United Kingdom in October and November.
The band members are employed as musicians by Shalva, the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. They also study, work and volunteer in the broader community.
Some are graduates of Shalva’s rehabilitative programs and their musical talents were discovered and developed through Shalva’s music-therapy program.
The band was founded in 2005 as a unique outlet for talented Shalva program participants and as a model for cultural inclusion.
Current lead singers Dina Samte and Anael Khalifa are blind. Samte was chosen this year to light a torch at the Israel Independence ceremony on Mount Herzl.
Naftali Weiss, who has PPD, is the male lead singer and percussionist. Keyboardist and vocalist Guy Maman, a graduate of music composition at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, is legally blind.
Yosef Ovadia, who has Williams syndrome, is the lead drummer and Tal Kima and Yair Pomburg, both with Down syndrome, are supporting percussionists. Pomburg also is a rapper.
The new video features a medley compiled by band director Shai Ben Shushan, combining Matisyahu’s “One Day,” Frozen soundtrack hit “Let It Go” and a handful of pop songs – all in English and all filmed in the new Shalva National Center in Jerusalem, the world’s largest facility of its kind.
The video ends with an adlib rap performed by Yair Shriki, a young man with cerebral palsy who sings about climbing higher and higher on the wheels of his disability.
And we’re live! the Shalva Band’s first official music video. There are some moments that don’t need words…this video is one of them. Wath the video, be inspired by these talented musicians and share the experience with friends.
A New Star is Born
Tal, who has Down syndrome, has been attending Shalva since age 6, and it was in music therapy that his talent for the drums was discovered. Tal’s hobby is learning songs in sign language and he often accompanies the soloists in sign language to the delight of the audience. His dream is to serve in the IDF and we hope he will fulfill it.
“It’s my favorite thing to do!”
Born in Manipur, India, Dina came to Israel at age 10. Dina got her musical talents from her mother, a guitarist, and learned Hebrew through singing. Friendly and personable, Dina captivates audiences with her warmth and beautiful voice. Despite being blind, Dina says she feels the light and the happiness that the audiences radiate, which makes her feel equal. Dina is currently a National Service volunteer at Shalva and dreams of a successful music career.
“It is important for me not only to receive, but to give back. Shalva is my home and the tools that I got here will be used in my future.”
Vocals and Drums
Yosef, who has Williams’ Syndrome, has attended Shalva programming from age 7 and considers Shalva home. Yosef joined the Shalva band as a singer and when his voice changed, he turned to drumming. Today he’s become so professional at it, that he teaches his instructors things. Music enables Yosef to fulfill his personal dreams, and being in the band is a big part of his life.
“Music lights up my life. It’s through music that I can be an equal.”
Rap and Percussions
Yair grew up in Shalva’s programs and returned to Shalva as an adult, working in the coffee shop and playing in the band. Visitors to Café Shalva can see him enthusiastically waiting tables, with a broad smile on his face. An electrician’s assistant by trade, Yair has strong opinions and is an avid follower of politics.
“I’m so happy playing the drums.”
Vocals, Song Writing & Producing
Singer, songwriter and musician, Yair doesn’t let having CP and being wheelchair-bound hold him back. Not only does Yair write, produce and perform his own songs, he creates music productions for others as well.
“Disability won’t stop me, it helps me move forward and the light of victory is always in front of me”
Anael began singing at age 5. Originally from France, the family came to Israel when she was 8. Singing was the tool Anael used to adjust to her new school, it allowed her to stand out even though she didn’t yet speak the language. She dreams of growing more independent, and more confident in front of an audience. She plans to study psychology, with an emphasis on trauma counseling. She describes Shalva as a place that gives, and gives so much that you just want to give along with it. And so she chose to do her National Service at Shalva.
“Music is everything. It’s my home. It’s a hug. I connect to myself and to others through music. It’s me!”
Vocals and Keyboard
A graduate of Music Composition at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Guy didn’t let his blindness prevent him from finishing college, without any shortcuts. In spite of his disability and the difficulty it entails, today he’s a well-known keyboardist on the Israeli music scene.
“Music is the vehicle through which I connect worlds.”
Vocals and Percussion
Naftali who is 24, attended Shalva for four years, at the afternoon and respite programs, as well as the summer camp. The thing he likes doing most is singing. Naftali who has PDD, has found a wonderful way of communicating through music. Music is in his soul and everywhere he goes he makes people happy through music.
“Music is my soul.”
Shai Ben Shushan
Shai has been directing the Shalva Band for 12 years. Shai was part of an elite army unit when he suffered a life-threatening injury 13 years ago. Through the rehabilitative process, he appreciated everyone who helped him along the way and once back to himself, decided it was time to give back to the community. Shai has developed the band into a professional band and opened doors for them in the highest places. For him, music creates a common language that connects the world of special education to the cultural world at large.
“It’s so moving to see that they have become talented and professional musicians, and stand together with any musician out there. The Shalva Band is a personal rehabilitation for me.”