Isreal is rich in architecture, religious tradition, and many artistic forms. It is also is home to diverse music that dates back generations. From world-famous musicians to artists who specialize in traditional Israeli styles, there are so many treasured singers who hail from Israel.
To celebrate the diverse and remarkable talent coming out of this country, in this post, we’re going to take a brief look at 13 of the greatest and most famous Israeli singers of all time.
1. Dana International
Dana International is a famous female Israeli pop singer, releasing eight albums and achieving fame throughout Europe.
She experienced a lively pop singer career in the early nineties in Israel and also won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998 with the song “Diva.”
She then gained widespread popularity throughout Europe and entered the Eurovision international pop contest again in 2011 with “Ding Dong.” Dana International did not reach the final that year but later enjoyed a successful career judging popular singing contests.
2. Aviv Geffen
Aviv Geffen is a multi-talented musician from Israel, achieving fame as a singer, guitarist, songwriter, producer, rock musician, and keyboard player.
Geffen rose to the peak of his fame in the 1990s when the grunge style and alternative music became very popular. His songs often focused on popular themes of the time like peace, love, politics, and suicide.
Geffen’s music and persona remain influential to youth culture today and still serve as an icon to younger generations.
The songs from his rock band Blackfield are still streamed extensively on YouTube and music streaming services.
3. Ofra Haza
With her most popular song garnering almost 12 million views on YouTube, Ofra Haza is one of the most famous singers from Israel.
Haza started her career at the age of 14 but reached her highest notoriety in the early eighties.
Haza is a multi-platinum, Grammy Award-nominated artist and is often compared to the legendary Madonna for her lasting cultural and artistic influence.
Haza is best known for popularizing world music and often blended Eastern and Western elements of music, including the instruments used and the rhythms used.
4. Esther Ofarim
Ester Ofarim, also known as Esther Zaied, is another Israeli singer who became famous through the Eurovision Song Contest.
She earned second place in the 1963 contest when she was a part of the folk duo Esther & Abi Ofarim with her husband.
Additionally, Esther Ofarim was successful in a solo career, achieving a new level of fame after her divorce.
In 1966, Ofarim was awarded the title of Singer of the Year in Germany in 1966.
She also was chosen to perform on the first-ever TV broadcast in color in Germany, which was very controversial to the people in Israel and resulted in Ofarim being banned from her home country of Israel for some time.
5. Gali Atari
Gali Atari is part of the group Milk and Honey, another Eurovision Song Contest winner.
Atari won the international pop contest in 1979 when Israel was the host country with an inspirational and hopeful ballad called “Hallelujah.”
This winning song was revived by Eurovision and Atari in 2020 to provide hope and support during the global COVID-19 pandemic when she performed the song with the children of the Junior Eurovision contest.
6. Naomi Shemer
Known as the “first lady of Israeli song and poetry”, Naomi Shemer has left an unforgettable impact on Israeli music history.
Her powerful song “Jerusalem of Gold” is often considered the second anthem of Israel by its citizens after the culmination of the Six-Day War in 1967.
The Six-Day War was a decisive victory for Israel and resulted in the capture of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, among other territories. These areas are still disputed in the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict.
“Jerusalem of Gold” was performed to unite and inspire the troops during the conflict, and the soldiers sang the anthem after their victory. Shemer added a new verse to the end of the song to commemorate these historical events.
7. Achinoam Nini
Achinoam Nini is notable in many disciplines, both artistic and humanitarian. She is known as a singer-songwriter, poet, composer, percussionist, and human rights activist, frequently performing with conga drums as she sings.
She is well-known internationally and has performed in 52 nations. She also represented Israel in the 2009 Eurovision contest with the popular song, “There Must Be Another Way.”
She also was the first Israeli artist to perform for the Pope at the Vatican.
8. Shoshana Damari
Remembered for her characteristic husky voice, Shoshana Damari is a famous singer of Israeli folk songs.
She is a Yemeni-Israeli woman but is often considered the unofficial cultural ambassador of Israel.
Because of her ability to celebrate the cultural history of Israel, Damari earned prestigious awards like the Israel Prize and nicknames like the First Lady of Israeli Song and the Queen of Hebrew Music.
9. Netta Barzilai
Netta Barzilai brings a colorful, energetic, and modern face to current Israeli pop music.
She’s particularly known for her over-the-top performances, including her song “Toy” during the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. Barzilai won Eurovision that year with her ode to female empowerment.
Barzilai is still actively performing her signature pop music, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She experimented with a podcast and creative online performances from her Tel Aviv balcony during the coronavirus crisis.
10. Gene Simmons
Born in Haifa, Israel in 1949, Gene Simmons is best known as the frontman for the legendary rock band KISS.
This band is an American group known for their iconic black and white face paint and songs like “I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night”.
KISS achieved more than 25 certified-gold records and is a permanent part of pop culture, as the band was known as much for their music as their merchandise.
One of the most notable characteristics of Gene Simmons is his trademark tongue, which is extremely long.
11. Mike Brant
Although born in Cyprus to Polish parents who survived the Holocaust, Mike Brant, born Moshé Brand grew up in Israel andstarted singing in hotels and other public entertainment spaces as a teenager.
Brant had classic heartthrob looks and an impressive, natural singing voice. He was discovered in Iran by a famous French singer who was drawn to his voice.
Brant’s first song was ‘Laisse-moi T’aimer’ (‘Let Me Love You’). The song, sung in French, shows the influence of this person on his career. This song went on to be a huge international pop hit.
The sudden fame resulted in an extraordinary amount of pressure on the young star and tragically Brant died by suicide in 1975 at the young age of 28. His final resting place is in Israel.
12. Asaf Avidan
An Israeli singer who sings all of his songs in English, Asaf Avidan has achieved significant international success.
Avidan currently tours internationally and has over 100 million views on YouTube and is considered one of the most successful contemporary Israeli musicians.
Avidan is characterized by his distinctive vocals, often compared to the ragged voice of Janis Joplin. One of his most popular songs is “Reckoning Song (One Day),” and he is also known for his work with the band “The Mojos.”
13. Arik Einstein
Arik Einstein has achieved fame in several different artistic pursuits, including screenwriting, acting, singing, songwriting, and as a comedian.
Named “the voice of Israel” he is often considered a pioneer of Israeli rock music and the most influential Israeli artist ever.
Einstein’s career was widely spanning over 50 years of meaningful artistic contribution and he’s been involved in more than 500 songs and 34 albums.
He is known for blending folk and rock music to help Israeli music reach more listeners around the globe.
Like many of the singers on this list, Einstein used his experience living in a war-torn part of the world to inspire his music.
One of his most famous songs describes maintaining hope and using the power of friendship to change the world for the better.
Summing Up Our List Of Great Israeli Singers
The spectrum of music developed from artists in Israel is impressive and wide-reaching. Many of the traditional artists made their names preserving Israeli folk songs and culture for future generations.
Many artists on this list owe their international fame to the Eurovision Song Contest, an international pop music festival. Because of Israel’s long history of conflict, a few artists on this list are remembered for their contributions to promoting peace and fighting for human rights.
This impressive culture of musical achievement continues to this day, with more genres of music enjoying Israeli representation. Now, hip hop, hard rock, and other types of music have experienced growth through talented artists from Israel.