Josh Shron
Israeli Music Radio Host, Podcaster & Enthusiast

Will The Shalva Band Represent Israel in Eurovision 2019?

The search is on for the artist to represent Israel in Eurovision 2019….and this year, it just may be a group of talented musicians with disabilities.

UPDATE 1/30/19: Arutz Sheva reports that the band may back out of the competition due to the requirement of a rehearsal on Shabbat before the Eurovision. Stay tuned to MyIsraeliMusic.com for further developments.

Welcome to “HaKochav Haba LeErevision” 2019 – the reality show through which Israel discovered Netta Barzilai in 2018, and went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest. The judges of the show – Assaf Amdursky, Keren Peles, Harel Skaat, Shiri Maimon, and Static & Ben-El Tavori – have been hard at work selecting potential candidates for this year’s competition.

Can Israel win it all, two years in a row? Maybe.  Meet The Shalva Band.

From the band’s web site:

The Shalva Band is comprised of 8 talented musicians with disabilities and performs to the highest musical standards by invitation at cultural venues and dignitary events throughout the year. Inspiring crowds with its musical repertoire and charm, the band is one of Shalva’s most celebrated inclusion programs.

The band members are employed by Shalva as musicians and they also study, work, and volunteer in the broader community. Some of them are graduates of Shalva’s rehabilitative programs and their musical talents were discovered and developed through Shalva’s music therapy program. What began as a unique outlet for talented Shalva program participants in 2005, has developed into a model for cultural inclusion and continues to impact audiences and musicians throughout Israel and beyond.

The Shalva Band features eight band members:

  • Shai Ben-Shushan, the band’s director, who was severely injured during his IDF service
  • Annael Khalifa, who is blind (vocals)
  • Tal Kima, who has Down Syndrome (percussion)
  • Guy Maman, who is visually impaired (vocals and keyboard)
  • Yosef Ovadia, who has Williams’ Syndrome (vocals and drums)
  • Yair Pomburg, who has Down Syndrome (rap and percussion)
  • Dina Samteh, who is blind (vocals)
  • Naftali Weiss, who has Pervasive Developmental Disorders (vocals and percussion)

The biggest performance of their lives

The band has performed at various venues since 2005 – but when they stepped onto the stage of “HaKochav Haba”, they quickly skyrocketed to fame in Israel and around the world. Here’s the clip of their emotional audition, with English subtitles.

Watch the entire broadcast of The Shalva Band להקת שלוה on Israel's The Rising Star. הכוכב הבא.Footage courtesy of mako

Posted by Shalva National Children's Center on Wednesday, 28 November 2018

As you can see in the video, the judges went nuts over their rendition of “Here Comes the Sun,” and so did the Israeli public. The band made it easily to the next round of the competition.

Since their initial audition, things have been progressing quickly in a positive direction. In their next appearance on the show, the Shalva Band performed “Eich Efshar SheLo” by Jane Bordeaux, earning them an unbelievable score of 100%.

שלווה

להקת שלווה עושים את זה שוב והפעם כל הדרך לנבחרת! ❤ צפו בביצוע המלא Shalva National Children's Center

Posted by ‎הכוכב הבא‎ on Wednesday, 9 January 2019

They returned to the show on January 15, with their powerful, emotional performance of “The Sound of Silence.”

לפעמים פשוט צריך לעצור הכל ולהקשיב לקול השלווה ???? מי המתמודדים שניצלו מהדחה ומי יילחם בשבת על המקום בנבחרת? לצפייה בפרק המלא לחצו>> bit.ly/2ANHpAi

Posted by ‎הכוכב הבא‎ on Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Then, on January 19, the Shalva Band performed a duet with fellow contestant Ofri Kalfon. They selected one of Idan Raichel’s hits, “Chalomot Shel Acherim.”

החברים מ״טדי״ שלחו לי את הביצוע הכי יפה אי פעם של ״חלומות של אחרים״ the most beautiful version for “other people’s dreams”. @mako@thenextstarisrael@keshet12@tedy_productions@shalvaband

Posted by ‎עידן רייכל – Idan Raichel‎ on Tuesday, 22 January 2019

The group returned to the stage on January 20th, performing a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Halleluyah”. Although they did advance to the next round, they only did so with a score of 68%. Judge Shiri Maimon explained that, although she enjoyed the performance, it did not impress her as much as most of their previous efforts. (Mako video link)

But any disappointment dissipated quickly. Next up, a duet with judge Harel Skaat on January 26. They joined the Israeli music superstar to perform his latest hit, “B’chayai”. This time, the band rebounded nicely with a score of 83%. All of the judges gave them a “blue light”, with the exception of Assaf Amdursky. He claimed the song “didn’t speak to him.”

מילים מצליחות לחדור ללב ולקבל משמעות אחרת כל פעם מחדש.. תודה להקת שלווה על ביצוע מרגש מאד! ל#בחיי….

Posted by ‎הראל סקעת – Harel Skaat‎ on Sunday, 27 January 2019

The Shalva Band in the Top 9!

That made The Shalva Band one of the nine remaining contestants for this year’s competition. Their latest appearance on January 28: an original song called “Ani Ro’ah Bach Mashehu Tov” (I See Something Good Within You). The song was written by Shalva lead singer Annael Khalifa, who is blind. From Shalva: “The song talks about Annael’s journey with disability and how she ‘looks’ in the mirror and sees something good, something close, something worth loving.”

Watch the spellbinding performance of The Shalva Band performing an original song, "I See Something Good Within You"…

Posted by Shalva National Children's Center on Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Since they’ve captured the hearts of the judges and the Israeli public, fans all over the world are rooting for them to succeed. As we get closer to the grand finale – and the selection of Israel’s representative to Eurovision 2019 – this incredible group of musicians has a real shot at taking Europe’s biggest stage stage in Tel Aviv this May.

Would you like to see The Shalva Band represent Israel in Eurovision 2019? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author
Josh Shron is the host of "Israel Hour Radio" - a weekly Israeli music radio program and podcast he's hosted on Rutgers University's WRSU Radio since 1994. He has the amazing opportunity to share his love for Israel and its music with thousands of listeners each week. Free weekly podcasts are available at the iTunes Music Store, TuneIn Radio or at https://www.MyIsraeliMusic.com. Josh is also the founder and president of Stampless Marketing, a full-service digital marketing firm. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and five children.
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