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Jewish Journal

Israeli “Celine Dion,” Persian sensation Andy and a song of unity

by Ryan Torok

August 6, 2012 | 12:16 pm

Israeli singer Liel Kolet

Performing at the Greek Theatre last weekend, 23-year-old Israeli singer and philanthropist Liel Kolet joined Iranian-Armenian pop star Andy for a song of peace.

The power ballad, “We Hear Your Voice,” brought together Andy and Kolet and musicians from across the world, including exiled Afghan singer Ehsan Aman; “Korea’s Got Talent” star and South Korean opera singer Sung Bong Choi and American singer Shani Rigsbee, Andy’s wife.

“Coming from Israel,” it was particularly meaningful for Kolet to take part in the performance, she said, onstage.

“I’m really happy to be here and take part in this beautiful thing…to promote peace is something that I love and to let all the people all over the world know we hear your voice,” she said.

Made up of thousands of people in attendance at the Aug. 4 concert, the crowd swooned, including Oren Nadav, 28, a general contractor who was born in Tel Aviv and lives in Sherman Oaks and attended with his Armenian girlfriend, who is a big Andy fan. Nadav didn’t know who Kolet was prior to the show—and he didn’t know that she’d be coming out to perform – but given his personal connection to Israel and Israel’s ongoing conflict with Iran, he was happy to see Kolet and Andy perform together.

“I love it. I actually think it’s great,” he said. “We need peace in the world, and in Israel it’s not so easy to have peace.”

“I love it,” he said one more time, dancing with his girlfriend.

A popular vocalist in Persian and Armenian communities who has performed all over the world and released more than one dozen albums, Andy (real name: Andranik Madadian) headlined the two-and-half hour performance on Saturday night. He performed with a 12-piece band and blended dance music, Middle Eastern rhythms, pop vocals and Persian lyrics. Born in Tehran and currently living in Los Angeles, Andy is internationally known. But his music is banned in Iran.

On Saturday, thousands of Armenians and Iranians of all ages – including couples, groups of friends and families—attended his concert.

Story continues after the jump.

A past performance with Andy and wife Shani.

“Put your hands together and clap!” Andy yelled in Persian between songs. The audience abided.

Relentlessly high energy throughout the evening, and reveling in the adoration, Andy invited Kolet onstage to perform one song with him around 90 minutes into the concert, which began at 8:30 p.m. and lasted until 11 p.m.

Born on a kibbutz in northern Israel, Kolet’s participation in charity events has put her onstage with artists such as Elton John, U2’s Bono and Andrea Boccelli and she has even sung with Bill Clinton. She has tried to establish herself as an international Celine Dion.

“We Hear Your Voice,” the song that Kolet performed with Andy and the others, was written by Rigsbee as part of a charity project to improve children’s welfare throughout the world.

Andy’s brother and manager, Varouj Madadian, said that the concert’s message was a “message of unity. The only message we have tonight.”

“Every human in the world is the same, and the message is only unity,” he said.

Varouj also said that Andy has performed in Israel as recently as last year.

Also among the crowd: 20-year-old Israeli student and Beverly Hills resident Avital Hasid. Attending with her Middle Eastern friends, Hasid is half-Persian and said she grew up with Andy’s music.

“I was just very proud of it. I didn’t expect an Israeli person to be here. I thought it was going to be a Middle Eastern thing, but I was glad to see her represent,” she said of Golet appearing.

If there were other Israelis in the crowd, they were scarce, but even non-Israelis appreciated the gesture of Kolet and Andy appearing together.

The collaboration sent the right message,” said 33-year-old Baha’i Persian P.J. Hak. “The Iranian and Israeli governments [are] not good together, [but] at least if we’re doing something like this, [it] brings all the people together,” Hek said. “It shows we don’t care what the government does.” Hak had traveled from Atlanta for the show, and the wallpaper on his cell phone is a photo of him and Andy.

Hak also spoke of his connection to Israel. He has visited Haifa, where there is a place of worship for the Baha’i community, he said. His life involves border-less connections between cultures, much like the evening’s concert.

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