Idan Raichel is one of the most celebrated Israeli artists and has performed on some of the world’s biggest stages. Although he considers his music Israeli, global audiences have rendered him as an international icon who continues to break barriers through his unique style of music.

When AJMF Executive Director Russell Gottschalk discovered Raichel would be performing at City Winery Atlanta March 17, he wasted no time in contacting Jewish owners Ed Greer and Michael Dorf to schedule Raichel in the program. “Idan came at an opportune time for us and we knew he would be a great addition to the festival,” Gottschalk told the AJT. “The festival has grown a lot and we’re always thinking of how we can produce events and who they are presented by.”

This isn’t the first time the AJMF has partnered with another organization or institution to promote an event. In 2016 the AJMF partnered with the Kehilla to help support the congregation’s fundraising efforts. The program turned out to be a success and drew over 500 attendees. “There are certain opportunities that you just have to pursue,” said Gottschalk.

Raichel has performed with globally recognized artists such as Alicia Keys, India Arie and Dave Matthews. His background in music began at age nine when he began playing the accordion. It wasn’t the coolest instrument out there Idan mentioned but it gave him an introduction to Israeli folk music which planted the foundation for his music career. Idan later started playing jazz piano and after entering a band during his service in the army began playing classical music. Idan’s Israeli background and culmination of musical influences soon led him to jumpstart the Idan Raichel Project, a series of concerts in conjunction with various international artists.

Israel has become renowned for its variety of music genres and artists, but what sets them apart is their attachment and roots to their homeland. “It’s a miracle we are coming from Israel and can play our music as Israeli music around the world, especially when we get an invitation from an promoter outside our beloved country, I am always excited to hear how many people are eager to attend the concert,” said Raichel.

“Music opens so many doors for young artists who wish to express their voice and come forward within the music industry,” said Raichel. “This is particularly true for minorities. The Idan Raichel Project was the first to elevate minority voices to Israel’s main street radio, we lifted Palestinian voices in the music arena and integrated artists from Ethiopia. Our mission is to open the ears and hearts of radio DJ’s across the world so we may continue to have a positive impact,”

Along with Israeli Hip-Hop artists Axum, Peled and Sagol 59, Raichel continues the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival’s tradition of featuring globally known international artists as headliners in the spring festival after A-WA in 2016 and Yael Deckelbaum and Diwan Saz in 2015.

Raichel is one of many artists at this year’s AJMF who will help break borders by exposing audience members to a cultural experience unlike any other. “I would like my music to unite people. I am very honored to play in any festival but especially one which I can represent my roots. It’s important to hear international artists because they represent the soundtrack of their country of origin. If people remember this concert as Israeli that would be the greatest honor for me,” said Raichel.