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By Rhonda Spivak

The three fun and talented female singers and songwriters who make up Habanot Nechamah (translated in English as “Daughters of Comfort/ Consolation”) performed their new age folk songs, with incredible harmonies in both English and Hebrew to a sold out audience here at the Berney Theatre recently.

The women opened the show with the splendid harmony of their soothing song Lovers ( “Lovers/Don’t be afraid/I have come to save you from the pain.”)  From this song alone it is easy to see why the group has been likened to the Indigo Girls.

The three women, who live in Tel Aviv, Karolina (Keren Avratz), Dana Adini and Yael Deckelbaum first met each other in a local clothing store where they vented their frustrations with their careers. Shortly thereafter, they decided to form their band, first performing together at an acoustic night at the popular  club in Tel-Aviv in 2004. At first each woman sang her own composition, but soon they began to collaborate, writing all of the well-crafted songs together.

Karolina, (who could easily be identified by her unmistakable afro and earthy attire), named the trio “Habanot Nechama” to express the peace of mind that working with each other gives them.  This sentiment was evident in the  comfortable rapport the women had with each other, as they made light hearted comments about the cold weather and restaurants where they ate in the city.

The women released their self titled debut album of reggae-soul-folk music – which went gold after just three weeks and then platinum- in 207. After the album’s success, they toured in Israel and Europe and finally to the United States, where they performed at The Radio City Music Hall and the Kodak Theatre for Israel’s 60th Birthday.

Some of Deckelbaum’s vocal’s were especially reminiscent of those of Canada’s folk legend Joni Mitchell.

“I have been told before that I sound like her [Joni Mitchell],” Decklebaum said in an interview after the show.

The women saved their most exquisite harmony of the evening for their encore number, a majestic rendition of the Hebrew prayer “Tfilat Hamalacheem” (The Angels’ Prayer”), which ended the concert on a high note.

It is relatively rare to hear Israeli singers perform songs in English as if it were their native tongue. But Habanot Nechamah easily showed this could be done during their 75 minute performance, with no intermission.

Decklebaum, who “ lives in Jaffa” did acknowledge that she had a head-start in English from her music-loving father, “ a Canadian-Israeli” who lead a country-folk band, The Taverners, in Jerusalem.

The gorgeous and haunting song “So Far”, which received a prestigious ACUM (Israel’s ASCAP) achievement award in February 2008, was a perfect blend of English and Hebrew.

The song  titled “Yah” was another favorite of the evening as the audience enthusiastically clapped along, singing out, “ah ah” to accompany the women, who over the course of the evening played a variety of instruments.

Although the women have no formal musical training, they have loads of natural talent and intuition, making their concert a very enjoyable experience. Additionally, they have the ability to make some rather unique and humorous sounds, adding a light-hearted feel to the evening.

Habanot Nechamah’s performance here was one of three Canadian stops (including Vancouver and Toronto) on a 10-city North American tour in January.

The show was the last of this season’s Rady JCC Israeli Concert Series produced by Karla Berbrayer.  

If the next year’s line-up is as good as this season’s, Winnipeggers will be in for a treat.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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