Ester Rada
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Ester Rada

Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | INDIE

Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Jazz Soul


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Ester Rada's US Debut with 'Life Happens' EP, the Israeli-Ethiopian Singer"

Ester Rada made her U.S debut at New York City's The Slipper Room recently. The Israeli-born Ethiopian singer/songwriter played an acoustic show accompanied by guitarist, Nadav Peled.

At times evoking the lyrical bravado of Sade and the melodious range of Jill Scott, Ester showed the crowd why the world seems to be abuzz about her. The audience sat rapt with attention as the crooner, belted cross-cultural influenced jazz/soul/funk infused songs reminiscent of Nina Simone and Erykah Badu from her latest EP - Life Happens (hear below).
Soft spoken and at times coy, she asked the crowded room of fans, press and A&R's to be kind to her and then chuckled shyly when the audience cheered her on after each song. She ended the show with fan favorite, "Could It Be" at which the audience begged for her to come back and grace them with one more song. - The Next2Shine

"In the Winehouse with…Ester Rada"

The New Face of Israeli Soul ~ The Ethiopian-Israeli singer is making waves as one of the newest voices in neo-soul.

In a short time, Israeli soul singer, Ester Rada, has gone from the stage and TV to music festivals all over the world.

It’s late March and large impressive snowflakes rush down in a flurry outside of the Marriott Hotel in Toronto. Amid industry folks blowing smoke into the air whilst chattering about Canadian Music Week acts, stands Ester Rada, leaning against the building, elegantly smoking a cigarette in the snow. The brightness of her clothing, an oatmeal colored knit sweater paired with a vibrant sunshine yellow floral skirt that meets her brown lace-up boots, stands in contrast to the dullness around her, like a ray of sun slicing through a gray wool blanket. Coming directly from her March 14th SXSW performance to CMW, it is as if she has brought a little piece of the Texas heat with her.

In less than a year, Rada has gone from popular actress to much anticipated singer-songwriter. Her culturally fluid sound has garnered international attention since the release of her self-composed 2012 EP, Life Happens. Described as, “gracefully combining Ethio-Jazz, funk, soul and R&B, with mixed undertones of black grooves,” her musical collaboration with famed producers Kuti (Kutiman/Thru-You) and Sabbo (Soulico), has only added to the eagerness. And although the leap from well-known actress to singer (and vice a versa) can be fraught with awkward hurdles, as well as grumbles about authenticity, Rada appears to be ready (and made) for the transition because music was always the goal.

We meet an hour before her VIP gig at the Hotel. She sits at the bar with her manager, guitar player, and friends. The group looks like the 2013 version of the cool kids table, a culturally eclectic, attractive, and faintly intimidating bunch. But then, as we begin talking, Rada tilts her head to the side and smiles in an unmistakeably sweet and genuine way that puts me at ease.

“It feels amazing!” she says, when asked about all the excitement about her upcoming album and well received performances. “I can’t believe it actually.” (Live, Rada sings with passion and intimacy, as if no one but herself is in the room ). She seems almost breathless as she runs through the whirlwind last few months. “This is the first time I’m performing outside of Israel. So we did New York, Texas, Toronto, and now we’re coming back to Chicago in May and we have Glastonbury festival In June. Then in November we go to Asia and Australia. Great things!” For a woman accustomed to celebrity, her delight is contagious and appears almost childlike. Yet behind the exhilaration, she exudes true grit and has a back-story of overcoming great odds that is simply inspiring.

In 1984, Rada’s parents left Ethiopia during the mass immigration of Jewish Ethiopians to Israel called, “Operation Moses.” The grueling and perilous ordeal saw thousands make their way to Israel via Sudan. Rada is noticeably reserved when discussing what her family endured during the exodus. “They were in the refugee camp in Sudan. It was a hard time for them,” she says, without elaborating.

Born in Kiryat Arba, a year after they settled in Israel, the challenging transition would ultimately take a toll on the family. “They didn’t know the language and they had many difficulties. My parents got divorced, actually, right after they came. So my mother had to raise me and my big brother alone in a country where she didn’t know the language, and it was a different mentality. Looking back, when you’re a child everything is good and you accept everything with love. But when you grow up, you see the past and say, ‘Okay, I kind of had it rough growing up,’ chuckles Rada, earnestly.

While growing up in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in Tel Aviv, Rada took part in Youth Theater, and though much was left behind in Ethiopia, the family’s deep connection to their musical heritage remained. “I loved to sing from forever,” she says, the gorgeous smile returning to her slender face. “My father is actually a singer. When he came to Israel he brought a lot of famous singers from Ethiopia to Israel and threw concerts. He was kind of a promoter for the Ethiopian community. Music played all the time in our house. Ethiopian music basically.”

It was the gift of music that helped Rada begin to design a different kind of life for herself. “When I look at my neighbours and what happened to their lives because of where we grew up….,” she pauses for a moment. A forcefulness adds weight to her words once she continues. “It’s a rough neighborhood. They are poor people. We didn’t have a lot of opportunities and we couldn’t see the opportunities. All we saw was the fence in our city and we couldn’t see past that. But music always took me to a different world. The imagined world. The dream world. You can see whatever you want to see [by way of music].”

At 18, Rada joined the Israeli army and became one of the solo singers in the music troop. “To be part of a music group in the army in Israel is a very big thing. Not everybody can get in. So when you do get in the doors will just open for you once you leave.”

Rada left service determined to pursue a music career but acting took center stage instead. “I got into the national theater of Israel [Habima Theater] after my service in the army. I was there in a big musical and started acting a bit…actually a lot. More acting than singing…” For the next few years she would appear in critically acclaimed TV shows including, “The Specialist” (The Israeli version of the U.S. HBO hit, “The Wire”), and theater productions such as the David Mamet play, Race. Despite this success, her desire to pursue music would not release its grip and last year she decided she could no longer resist it.

Six months ago I said, ‘Ok. I’ve acted. But what I really want to do is sing.’ So I got myself together and said this is my…I don’t think my last chance but I really want to do it now so let’s do it. A few months ago I recorded with my two genius producers, Kutiman and Sabbo, and it was an amazing, amazing experience.”

Growing up without a radio, it was religious songs that formed Rada’s beautiful voice, and now plays a profound part in her song writing. “All the music is about personal things that happened. I think that because I was in a religious family, the music that comes from religion is always about bigger things, bigger themes. It’s from the heart. That’s my inspiration when writing music. Singing makes me happy and it’s a spiritual thing. It’s about love and connecting with people.”

Taking this powerful spiritual basis and enriching it with jazz and R&B to create a neo-soul all her own, the influence of celebrated musician, Astatke, the founding father of Ethio-jazz (Ethiopian Jazz) in the 1960’s is just as significant in her sound. Warm, folksy, jazzy, and rhythmic, Rada’s sound creates a reflective groove reminiscent of Les Nubians rich eclectic vibe. Citing greats like Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, and Erykah Badu, as some of her influences, she brings a similar strength to her lyrics and music.

While fans await Rada’s full length album, (will it be sung completely in English? Or will there be some Hebrew and Amharic thrown into the mix?), she promises that one theme will reign supreme, “It’s going to be about love. That’s what motivates me,” she says tilting her head again in that special way. “That’s what I hope motivates the world. That’s what I hope for the world.”

Check out Winehouse Mag Favs: “Monsters” and “Anything from You” and videos, “Life Happens” and “Could it Be.”

Ester Rada will be performing at the UK Glastonbury Festival on June 28th, 2013.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chaka V. is a writer, journalist and the creator of The Winehouse Mag. - Winehouse

"Meet the girl: Ester Rada"

L’hanno già paragonata a Nina Simone ed Erykah Badu. Ma Ester Rada ha un timbro mai sentito prima e il suo stile è un mix di funk, sonorità black, Ethio-jazz (è cresciuta a Tel Aviv in una famiglia cristiana di origine etiope). Per ora possiamo goderci il singolo Life Happens, tratto dall’album di debutto in lavorazione. I produttori israeliani Kuti e Sabbo sono due che non sbagliano una mossa. Quindi è certo: ne sentiremo parlare parecchio. - Marie Claire Italy

"Ester Rada : quand l’éthio-soul illumine la pop"

A 29 ans, la chanteuse explore son identité musicale dans un premier album brassant soul, éthio-jazz, reggae, pop et afrobeat. Elle sera en concert ce week end au festival Banlieues Bleues.

Le premier contact se fait en fanfare : on découvre Ester Rada en pleine répétition, s’essayant à un trombone dont elle tire d’impressionnants barrissements. Peu soucieuse de jouer les coquettes auprès des journalistes étrangers, l’étoile montante de la scène israélienne prend le temps de s’amuser un peu avant de répondre à nos questions. Mais au lieu de la distance attendue, à cause du glamour afro qu’elle cultive dans ses photos et ses clips, la jeune femme apparaît naturelle, souriante, le regard seulement un peu troublé par cette lassitude des musiciens qui jouent jour et nuit et enchaînent sans cesse les déplacements.

La veille, Ester a donné son premier concert en France, au Comedy Club. Elle semble encore sous le charme d’un public que, de son côté, elle n’a eu aucun mal à séduire : “C’était incroyable, j’ai adoré la vibration. Dès la première minute, j’ai senti que les gens étaient vraiment là pour écouter la musique. C’est beau à voir.“ Et de s’abandonner à son enthousiasme, elle pour qui la musique est d’abord un moyen de découvrir d’autres peuples et d’autres cultures. A 29 ans, la chanteuse possède pourtant une identité musicale et personnelle d’une richesse déjà peu commune.

“Je viens d’une famille très religieuse. Mes parents ont quitté l’Ethiopie pour Israël un an avant ma naissance. Nous sommes Beta Israel, les seuls Noirs africains à vivre dans ce pays. Toute jeune, je n’ai entendu que de la musique religieuse et éthiopienne. Et puis, à l’âge de douze ans, je suis subitement devenue laïque. J’ai découvert MTV, les Fugees, Erykah Badu et 2Pac, la soul, le r’n’b… Cette musique m’a accompagnée pendant que je grandissais.”

Sachant que nul ne rompt avec la religion en un clin d’œil, surtout au sein d’un foyer très pratiquant, cette rupture a dû engendrer un certain nombre de tourments. Mais aujourd’hui, Ester ne souhaite plus questionner sa propre identité, préférant se nourrir de toutes les expériences qui s’offrent à elle.

Un premier album irrésistible

En témoigne Ester Rada, étonnant brassage de soul, éthio-jazz, reggae, pop et afrobeat. Un premier album qui évite la composition en mosaïque et trouve son unité dans un son puissant et une belle voix prête à prendre des risques, soutenue par un irrésistible groove éthiopien. “Durant ma jeunesse, j’étais plutôt paumée. Je n’écoutais plus de musique éthiopienne, je voulais simplement être semblable aux autres Israéliens. Ce n’est qu’à 23 ans que j’ai recommencé à en écouter et pu m’en faire une idée neuve. Mais il me reste encore beaucoup à découvrir sur cette musique, celle du passé comme celle d’aujourd’hui. C’est comme un voyage à accomplir.” Un voyage qui tiendrait sûrement du pèlerinage.

Car, comme ces grandes voix afro-américaines qui chantèrent le gospel avant de livrer leur âme au répertoire profane, quitte à faire des allers-retours de l’un à l’autre comme Al Green, ou à nourrir une culpabilité autodestructrice comme O.V Wright, Ester Rada n’en a pas fini avec le symbolisme mystique. Ses propos en sont encore imprégnés, sa vision du monde aussi. La pochette de l’album, dont le graphisme psychédélique rappelle celles réalisées par Mati Klarwein pour Miles Davis, a ainsi un aspect iconique : le buste de la chanteuse y émerge d’une Jérusalem en or illuminée par le soleil levant.

“J’ai confié ma musique à Emek, un artiste dont j’apprécie le travail. Je l’ai laissé libre de faire ce qu’il voulait et le résultat m’a enchantée. En contemplant cette image, j’y vois la Sion pavée d’or, lieu de paix où tout le monde souhaite se rendre.” Ce besoin de sérénité, la chanteuse y reviendra lorsqu’on évoquera l’étrange Monsters, dans lequel elle se dit retenue en captivité par “ceux qui savent”. “C’est assez personnel, mais on peut aussi le prendre d’un point de vue politique. Ce texte reflète l’idée d’être prisonnier de soi-même. Les monstres y sont mes propres pensées, celles qu’on m’a enseignées, et dont j’ai envie de me libérer.”

La nécessité de son art, il semble bien qu’Ester Rada la trouve dans cet impérieux désir d’émancipation. Elle n’a guère de temps à perdre. Son premier album à peine sorti en Israël (et disponible sur Internet), elle nous déclare en avoir déjà terminé un autre. Après avoir joué dans trois films pour la télévision israélienne, elle s’apprête également à rejoindre le tournage de son premier long métrage. Il faudra donc ne pas la manquer samedi, en première partie de Seun Kuti, à l’Embarcadère d’Aubervilliers, dans le cadre du Festival Banlieues Bleues. Car, à l’évidence, elle va bientôt s’envoler vers de plus vastes horizons.

Concert le 15 mars à Aubervilliers (Festival Banlieues Bleues).

par Louis-Julien Nicolaou - Les Inrockuptibles

"Bounce-Worthy: Ester Rada"

Calling Israel home, Ethiopian by decent and coming from a highly religious Jewish family, singer-songwriter Ester Rada does indeed wear her heritage and culture proudly, as it plays an important role in the music that she pens and performs. Rada introduced herself to US shores last year with her debut EP, Life Happens, and she gave off vibes as a Les Nubians and Lianne La Havas hybrid thanks to her sugar in the raw vocals and down-to-earth persona. Yet, her strengths as a storyteller and vocalist are more aligned to her main influences, namely Nina Simone, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. Like her trio of muses, Rada explores a wide range of genres and techniques, even inserting a bit of Middle Eastern flair from her homestead into the mix to give off her own distinctive flair separate from her idols. Whether she's executing cerebral acoustics (current single "Could It Be"), summery soft soul ("Anything From You") or doing complex jazz thing-a-ma-jigs (the superb "Monsters"), Rada isn't worried at all about fitting into some stuffy box of musical conformity, and glad of that I am. So listen up, pay close attention and allow Ester Rada to tell her stories and let you hear what's going on from her perspective as you take in the Life Happens EP below, and peep the visual for "Could It Be" after the bounce. If you like what you hear and want to see Miss Rada in action, she's zipping around the US next week with a debut showcase in NYC as well as stomping the stages at this year's SXSW in Austin. - Soul Bounce

"Review: Ester Rada Debut at Slipper Room, NYC – 3/11"

Ester Rada’s phenomenal acoustic performance at The Slipper Room was well received by a diverse New York crowd. Accompanied by guitarist Nadav Peled, Rada created an intimate connection with the audience. Her unsurpassed energy, powerful voice, engaging storytelling, and rhythmic moves kept the crowd attentive, grooving to the beat, and requesting encores. Rada's performance focused on her first self-written EP, Life Happens, which features hits such as, “Could It Be ". Ester Rada is definitely one to look out for.

If you missed her in New York, you can still catch her at SXSW in Austin, Texas :

March 14th - Flamingo Cantina - 11:00 pm-11:40pm

March 16th - The Stage on Sixth Patio - 09:00 pm - 09:40 pm

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 at 2:27 PM and is filed under Events, Music. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. - Giant Step


"Ester Rada" - debut album - feb. 2014 >

"Life Happens" - EP - nov. 2012 >



Ester Radas cross-cultural sound is a deep reflection of the Israeli born Ethiopians heritage. Growing up in a religious Jewish family in more than modest conditions in Israel, gave Rada the drive to change her way of life and fulfill her dream of creating music. Critics describe her genre mixing sound as "gracefully combining Ethio-Jazz, Urban-funk, Neo-Soul and R&B, with mixed undertones of black grooves". 

Ester just released her debut album, after releasing her acclaimed first self-written and composed solo EP called "Life Happens" produced by Israeli producers Kuti (Kutiman/Thru-You) and Sabbo (Soulico), at the beginning of 2013. 

The album features songs in English and Amharic. Half of the songs where produced by Ester and her band, and half by acclaimed producers: Tamir Muskat (Balkan Beat Box, Asaf Avidan), Yossi Mizrahi (Acollective, Hadag Nahash) and Kutiman and Sabbo named above. 

With strong influences from early 20th century soul power women such as Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin; as well as a great appreciation for more contemporary black divas like Eryka Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Jill Scott; Rada is bringing a new voice to soul that is already spreading worldwide. Music critics are hailing her songwriting, performance, and release, and be always ready to be surprised by Ester Rada's next project

Ester Rada - Vocals
Maayan Milo - Trombone
Gal Dahan - Sax
Michael Guy - Bass
Lior Romano - Keyboards
Dan Mayo - Drums
Ben Hoze - Guitar
Inon Peretz - Trumpet