By Rochelle Maruch Miller
If you mention Mordechai Shapiro’s name to anyone who has had the pleasure of working with him or experienced his uplifting and exhilarating performances, and you are sure to elicit an enthusiastic response. Described by world-renowned composer and producer Yitzy Waldner as “a breath of fresh air .Â .Â . who has the ability to do things with his voice no one else in this business can,” Mordechai is one of Jewish music’s hottest and most gifted performers.
“As an artist, I take pride in the fact that my songs are very message-oriented,” Mordechai told the 5TJT. “In every song that I sing, there is a distinct message that I want to convey to the world. Positivity and joy is what I aspire to promote through my music.”
Mordechai discovered his passion for singing at a tender age. After he joined the Miami Boys Choir when he was 7 years old, his beautiful voice and charming stage presence endeared him to audiences and earned the talented youngster solos at Miami Boys Choir performances. Despite his youth, the capacity crowds, the distance of the venues, and the time and effort involved in being part of the choir, Mordechai had no compunction about taking center stage.
“I had a natural ability to sing and always felt very comfortable performing in front of an audience,” he says. “Looking back to the ‘predictions’ feature in my yearbook, my classmates had written I would be singing professionally in 20 years. Being a singer has been a lifelong dream of mine. It’s something I persevered at and pushed hard for all these years. I enjoy every aspect of inspiring people through my music and bringing happiness into their lives.”
Raised in a Modern Orthodox home, Mordechai was musically inspired by Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, and MichaelÂ BublÃ©. It was that star quality that he emulated that drew the attention of Yerachmiel Begun, who elected to have Mordechai as star soloist of the Miami Boys Choir in 1997. Since his debut as a solo performer two decades ago, Mordechai’s star has been shining brightly, as he continues to inspire people worldwide with his music. Long passionate about his music, the duet in which he performed “Racheim” with Yaakov Shwekey at Miami 25 has scored over a million views on YouTube thus far.
Mordechai and his wife, Raquel, moved to Israel after their wedding, where they lived for three years. During their stay, Mordechai performed occasionally. Being an integral part of a wedding and sharing in the simcha of the chassan and kallah and their families proved to be extremely rewarding to Mordechai. Soon after the couple’s return to New York, Mordechai became a sought-after performer in the wedding arena, singing with the most celebrated orchestras in Jewish music.
Since then, Mordechai has captivated crowds at concerts and has graced simchas, bringing a unique style and energy to a diverse level of simchas. Trained under the world’s foremost vocal coaches, Mordechai’s stunning vocal performances take him to venues spanning virtually every continent. His penchant for performing chesed in its purest form has made him a beacon of hope to those in despair as he prioritizes the mitzvah of bikur cholim, devoid of any desire for honor or publicity.
Following the much-anticipated release of Machar, Mordechai’s second album, I had the pleasure of speaking with the multitalented artist. Personable, unpretentious, and greatly appreciative of his ever-expanding fan base, he shared his thoughts about the album, which was produced by Yitzy Waldner, and is already ascending to the top of the Jewish music charts.
“It was very important for me to release this album,” Mordechai explained. “Baruch Hashem, my first album did very well, exceeding all my expectations, and I felt the time was right to release a second album. In terms of genre, Schar Mitzvah was more commercial; this album features my own personal energy. I coproduced Machar and composed two of the songs on the album.” Yitzy Waldner was the producer; most of the arrangements were orchestrated by Ian Freitor at Playmasters Studio and Blue Rhythm Label, with many lyrics written by Miriam Israeli. Featured on the album are songs composed by Mordechai Brezel and Baruch Levine, as well as a soul-stirring Vizhnitz niggun.
For Mordechai, music is the medium through which he conveys his message. Each track is a standout selection in its own right, handpicked by the artist himself because of its relevance to the thoughts he wishes to express.
“I am excited about every song on this album,” he says, and with good reason. “Machar,” the title track, expresses a message brimming with positivity and optimism. “I wanted a practical message–‘Machar ha’shemesh tizrach’–tomorrow the sun will shine,” Mordechai explains. “When you find yourself in a difficult situation, when you are in a tough spot, just remember, tomorrow the day will be over and there will be brighter days ahead.”
Ask anyone to name a favorite track on the album and they will be hard-pressed to reply; simply stated, every song is a winner! Listen to each song and experience its personal message and relevance to you.
“‘Home’ is very unique, very special,” says Mordechai. “I co-wrote it together with my producer. It speaks to me personally, when I am away from home, from my family, for lengthy periods of time, performing in concert or flying across the country or throughout the world. It speaks from a father to his children, or a child who is physically distanced from his or her parents and yearns to be with them. ‘Home’ carries a universal message, as does every song on the album.”
Music has the power to bring people to an emotional place they never thought possible. Each day, Mordechai receives eâ€‘mails thanking him for putting a smile on the faces of sick patients. One eâ€‘mail described the joy expressed by a terminally ill patient who took pleasure in listening to Mordechai’s songs.
“I never thought the songs I sing could have such a tremendous impact,” he says, when pressed to comment. “The ability to bring people pleasure through my music is incredible. Music is a language that speaks to so many. The message I want to give is one of positivity and hope.”