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!!
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’ first 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… The simple message behind Yemen Blues’ 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 members are among the world’s top musicians. Each one comes from his own musical universe, which is what makes Yemen Blues so unique!
Vocalist, composer and bandleader Imani Uzuri has been called "a post modernist Bessie Smith" by The Village Voice. Uzuri creates music that reflects her North Carolina roots where she grew up singing Spirituals and hymns with her grandmother and extended family in their small rural church. Uzuri's music also highlights her affinity for African American cultural musical practices like antiphony, polyrhythms and the use of melisma, guttural sounds and moans. She also includes influences from her travels around the world to places like Hungary, Morocco, Ethiopia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Japan where she shared these foundational American musical sounds with international audiences and communities while also learning about their musical traditions. Uzuri's new album, The Gypsy Diaries, draws on her roots as well as influences ranging from Sufi devotionals to Romany laments. Her ensemble features unique instrumentation combining sitar, acoustic guitar, cello, Japanese shinobue flute, and Persian percussion. It is a vibrant lyrical and spiritual sound scape that reached #2 on Rhapsody's World Music Top 10.
Uzuri's work has been called "stunning" by New York Magazine and incorporates her interests in world culture, experimentation and sacred music. Uzuri has collaborated with a wide range of noted artists across various artistic disciplines including Herbie Hancock, John Legend, Vijay Iyer, Wangechi Mutu, Carrie Mae Weems and Robert Ashley. Her television credits include a feature on BET for their Black History Month campaign and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon performing with Talib Kweli and the Roots.
The Village Voice says, "Imani Uzuri is a constant surprise...seamlessly combining jazz, classical, country and blues motifs into highly personalized compositions." The New Yorker named Uzuri one of the emerging “female composers edging forward” and Time Out New York says, "Uzuri never fails to mesmerize with her narcotic blend of ethereal sounds".