“Quite simply, it’s one of the most exciting bands in world music right now”
Time Out Chicago
In 2010, singer & composer Ravid Kahalani founded the rare combination of top musicians we now call Yemen Blues. From the start, Yemen Blues created an original sound that became a new language in contemporary music. The intense musicians hail from NYC, Uruguay & Tel Aviv. This includes the core members: Rony Iwryn, Itamar Doari, Itamar Borochov & Shanir Blumenkranz. Each member comes from a different background and brings their own sound and arrangements to Ravid’s compositions. The result of this amazing group is a powerful energy that mixes Yemenite, West African & Jazz influences. The mambo and North African rhythms create a joyful and deep foundation, while the vocals remind the listener of ancient Arabic chants mixed with funk & blues. For their first album, the group collaborated with the well-known maestro Omer Avital who served as a musical director & producer. Since then, Yemen Blues keeps magic alive with a constant stream of new songs and their world-renowned exciting live performances!
“With Ravid Kahalani at its helm, genre-defying band Yemen Blues is known for a deeply experimental sound & live performances that border on the spiritual. To say that Ravid Kahalani is a charismatic performer is to say that water is wet and hawaij, the Yemeni spice blend, is fragrant. The Israeli-born musician is the lead singer and cofounder of Yemen Blues, a genre-busting musical group that fuses Yemeni and Hebrew melodies with jazz, blues and funk influences. It’s been described as “a crossroads of Yemenite melodies and contemporary funk,” but even that is limiting for an experimental group that is constantly evolving and beyond definition. Think Prince or Michael Jackson, but Yemenite via Israel and with a hint of James Brown.”
-Miriam Groner, The New York Jewish Week
Dubi Lenz, the well-known Israeli journalist, was the first to listen to Yemen Blues’ music. He immediately felt the power of the project while the band was still in its exploration phase. He helped to get Yemen Blues’ first who at the influential festival and expo – Babel Med – in Marseille, France. It was then that something truly incredible happened. The band received a hugely positive respond from people all over the world and the name “Yemen Blues” began to spread like wild fire. The band was hailed as the biggest success story of the festival by the well-known newspaper Liberation. Since then, Yemen Blues has been called “the most exiting and unique live show you can see” by several news outlets including National Geographic, Time Out Chicago, NPR and many more. We were amazed and thankful when we started to tour and have performed over 150 shows from 2011-13! These performances have taken place all over the world on some of the biggest and well known stages including: Womex World Expo, Roskilde Festival Denmark, New York Central Park’s Summer Stage, Grand Performances Los Angeles, Millennium Park Chicago, Luminato Toronto Canada and many, many more. Top musicians from around the world are taking notice as well including Kronos Quartet, Oxmo Puccino, Matisyahu and more. Yemen Blues’ first album was also named The Best “world music” album of 2011 at “Le Devoir” Canada, and the Best album of 2011 by Sweden’s SvD newspaper. February 2011 marked Yemen Blues’ fist tour – and what a blessing it was. The band transitioned into its new role as the hippest thing in “World Music” scene. The newfound success has seen subsequent tours all over the world – most extensively throughout Canada, USA & Europe.
In 2012 Yemen Blues continued their touring, beginning the year by headlining NYC’s “GlobalFEST” – an industry expo and festival featuring the planet’s top ‘world music’ acts. The band followed that up with a tour of China including large-scale shows in Shanghai and Beijing. Later that year, Yemen Blues headlined shows including: the big stage at The Lincoln Center Out Doors NYC, Royce Hall UCLA and many many more of the top stages and greatest festivals all around Europe, Canada & USA. In 2013 Yemen Blues started in Vancouver with the second year at the big Hutzpah! Festival. After that, it was back to a tour of China including an enormous concert in Shanghai’s main square. Yemen Blues then went to Mexico and did a big summer tour throughout The United States and Canada. The band ended the year with a fall tour that includes sold out shows at the beautiful Koerner Hall, Toronto and a massive 2 shows for adults and children at The Ordway Center in St. Paul MN… Yemen Blues’s latest installment, 2015’s “Insaniya (Humanity)” was produced by the legendary Bill Laswell. The new album focuses on hard grooves, rich vocals, and clear and heavy sound. Special guests on the album include Yemenite star Tziyon Golan and one of the greatest voices of the Sahara, Mariem Hassan. The show built around the new album features a collaboration with Maria Kong art collective’s super-talented Ori Ben-Shabat, who created an original 5-screen video artwork for each of the songs on the album assembled from live footage of the band and original images inspired by the music. The new show is a visual and rhythmic feast for listeners. The simple message behind Yemen Blues’s music is universality. It is the band members’ love of music that allows this truth to shine through. The band strives to tap into this universality in all of its shows as well as in the workshops they do with children of all ages. Yemen Blues has created a sound that swirls with the traditions of Yemenite Muslims, Christians and Jews, with contemporary overlays of rock & roll, jazz, and blues.
Founder / Composer / Writer / Leader & Singer
Ravid Kahalani – Singer / Composer / Producer & Performer. Born in 1978 to a Jewish Yemeni family that is known for its singing talent and includes a long line of renowned singers. Ravid has become an important star in the Israeli music scene over the past several years. Via a series of detours, Ravid was drawn to music first and foremost through his love for African-American soul and blues, roots music and traditional religious songs. Ravid’s diverse singing talent instilled an enthusiasm for the music of the Sahara and North Africa. This caught the attention of renowned Israeli singer Idan Raichel and led to Ravid becoming the lead singer in Raichel’s World Music project & had over 400 shows all over the world in the last 5 years. Nowadays, Ravid is a rare guest in Idan Raichel’s shows as YEMEN BLUES’ calendar is completely filled up. Ravid has performed in over 150 shows with Yemen Blues in the last 3 years while still performing with Idan Raichel and many more solo shows on his own. Along the way Ravid has taken part in many projects. He also has studied Opera (singing as a counter tenor), Orthodox Serbian church singing, composing & writing songs in many musical generas. Ravid has composed for and worked with top musicians around the world including Balkan Beat Box, Matisyahu, Oxmo Puccino, Idan Raichel and has been featured on many releases and Radio shows.
New Yemen Blues Projects
We Believe is the latest project of the internationally beloved global music ensemble, Yemen Blues. Conceived by Ravid Kahalani, co-creator and frontman, the We Believe ensemble also includes bassist/ producer Shanir Blumenkranz (John Zorn, Yo Yo Ma), acclaimed drummer Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce, J-Z, Goerge Michael), renowned Jazz bassist/composer & co founder of Yemen Blues Omer Avital, and on the recording The Harlem First Corinthian Baptist Church Choir under the direction of Charles Anthony.
We Believe brings together a group of individual artists who respect, honor and celebrate their cultural differences discovering a sound that none of them could have created on their own. A testament to the power of true diversity and collaboration, We Believe draws from both Middle Eastern and African American traditions and hits home with a new musical sound that is rock solid in its funky thunderous grooves.
On his motivation for forming We Believe, Kahalani says, “It’s so easy to get stuck in what you’ve created in the past, instead of learning, innovating and moving forward. We Believe is a way to move forward and build a foundation for a more just and harmonious future for all cultures.”
Announcing Shabazi A tribute album by Yemen Blues, based on the poetry of one of Yemen’s most inspiring Jewish spiritual leaders.
Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, who was among Judaism’s most important poets and Kabbalists, wrote over 850 poems. Only a few of these are widely known.. After thoroughly researching Shabazi’s sacred songs, Yemen Blues has re-composed preserved them in his very first tribute album. The band has selected a number of Rabbi Shalom Shabazi’s most unknown poems for the project, poems which have never before been set to music. The new melodies are influenced by the soulful melodic prayers of ancient Yemenite Jews. Performing vocals, creating melodies and arrangements is Ravid Kahlani, founder and creator of the international band “Yemen Blues”. Performing music and other arrangements in the project are Shanir Blumenkranz, Roni Iwryn, itamar Borochov and Itamar Doari.
YEMEN BLUES DUO
Ravid Kahalani & Shanir Blumenkranz
Yemen Blues Duo was created in March 2020 when COVID started and the world was suddenly shut down. The band members couldn’t arrive for the European tour, only Shanir Blumenkranz (bass & oud) and Ravid Kahalani (vocal & Gimbri) arrived and said “We play until they stop us”. It was at MOODS in Zurich that the audience experienced and forgot about the fear of COVID. A joyful, soulful, powerful show of Blumenkranz & Kahalani brought the presence of a full band but also the intricate nuances that only a duo can bring.The overwhelming heavy sounds of Blumenkranz’s bass & Oud fly straight into your soul and Kahalani’s intense vocals stretch between the deep Arabic Blues to the tender chants of ballads that give hope and love.