Israel-born artiste Idan Reichel pushed the envelope of Israeli pop with his first album, The Idan Reichel Project. His personal interest in the music of Israel's Ethiopian Jewish community shows through in this fusion of Ethiopian music and Hebrew melodies. Idan Reichel collaborated with 30 individuals on the album, including Ethiopian vocalist Zamanwit Zoë Gadmu and lyricist Mimi Yosef. Released in 2002, its first single reached the top of the local charts. According to the 2003 Jerusalem Post article From the Desert, From a Far-Away Land:
Reichel's album ... begins with a recording of traditional Ethiopian prayers for the New Year and it has four songs that are delivered solely in Amharic - but it is also a fusion. The majority of the tracks weave Amharic and Hebrew, traditional and pop. "For Israelis, it's hard to listen to Ethiopian music. But when it comes in an Israeli wrapper, it's much more accessible," he says
Things came full circle when The Idan Reichel Project was invited to Addis Ababa's Fifth Ethiopian Music Festival in 2006. Several of the singers in the Project were Ethiopian-born, including two of the lead singers who came to Israel as children during the migration of Ethiopian Jews in the 1980s. This was their first trip back to Ethiopia and the first time Israeli performers appeared in Ethiopia.
For more information on The Idan Reichel Project, see The Idan Reichel Project - The Official Site.