If "American Idol" runner-up Katherine McPhee can enjoy even half the success achieved by Shiri Maimon, runner-up of the first season of Israel's version of the show -- dubbed "A Star Is Born" -- then she will be lucky.
With a powerful voice and Britney-esque looks and videos, Maimon, 25, has become one of Israel's most sought-after and popular pop stars since winning fourth place in the Eurovision singing competition last year, representing Israel with the moving ballad, "Sheket She'nishar."
Next week she will be in Los Angeles as guest performer alongside veteran Israeli artist Rami Kleinstein on his U.S. tour. Kleinstein has previously performed solo several times in Los Angeles, but this is the first time he'll be bringing his band, The 2nd Council, and his Israeli "Idol" protégé, Maimon.
"Singing together brings out the good chemistry we have," said the usually bubbly Maimon via an e-mail interview, which she managed to sneak in in-between sold out concerts and rehearsals for her starring role in a new musical called, "The Band."
Kleinstein first met Maimon at the "A Star Is Born" finale, when he directed the finalists before the show. He continues to guide Maimon, but this time as the musical director of "The Band," the musical version of the 1970s Israeli cult film of the same name. Following the success of her guest performance at his concerts in Israel, he decided to bring her to the U.S., as well. This will be Maimon's first trip to the U.S. She'll perform a few of her hit songs, including "Le'an Shelo Tilchi," which Kleinstein wrote for her first album.
While not an "avid fan" of "A Star Is Born" or singing contests of the like, Kleinstein said he believes that Maimon, whom he calls "a very talented singer," was one of the few Israeli finalists to use her success in the contest as a springboard to develop a music career, rather than an acting or television career.
"When someone wins 'Idol' and doesn't make a record and goes on to host TV shows where there is business, money and a future, it's as if they've caught a ride on this 'Idol,' where they're voted to be singers, and they don't sing."
As for Maimon's thoughts on "American Idol": "I've watched 'American Idol' a couple of times but not regularly. It's very different from the type of show we have here. The fact that the contestants have the chance to meet some of the great musicians and producers of the world, like Stevie Wonder, is amazing to me."
She counts first-ever "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson among her favorite American singers, which is only natural since, of all the "American Idols," Maimon's voice and success on the Israeli level most matches that "American Idol" favorite.
Shiri Maimon will perform with Rami Kleinstein at the Avalon on June 5. For tickets, call (818) 986-7332.
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