By Rochelle Maruch Miller
When Uri Davidi takes center stage at a simcha or concert, he infuses the entire audience–from the tiniest toddlers to our beloved bubbies and zaidies–with his own infectious energy and enthusiasm, inspiring them to get on their feet and dance, so it’s not surprising that he is one of the brightest stars on the Jewish music horizon. Blessed with a gorgeous voice and a charismatic stage presence, Uri’s soul-stirring chuppah vocals and awesome dance sets have garnered acclaim throughout the global Jewish community, taking him to venues near and far.
For many years, Uri had not considered pursuing a career in singing. Raised in Los Angeles, he always sang in local choirs but avoided auditioning for solos due to his shyness. So shy was he that as an eighth-grader, following years of performing in the choir, he had to be coaxed to step up to the microphone. But despite his penchant for shunning the spotlight, Uri began performing with increasing frequency throughout the ensuing years.
“At first I would sing at the chuppah at my friends’ weddings. I was in yeshiva at the time; I sang at a few chuppahs and did an entire wedding once or twice, with absolutely no intention of becoming a professional singer. But although I had other plans, it is obvious that Hashem has guided me in this direction and that He has been guiding me along every step of the way.”
Generating excitement and an ever-expanding fan base, each high-energy performance resulted in even more frequent bookings for the 28-year-old, who resides in Lakewood with his wife, Rikki, and their three children. To date, he has performed at over 500 simchos, enhancing the joy of a chassan and kallah’s special day with his diverse style and unique performance.
For Uri, being mesameiach a chassan and kallah is the most rewarding aspect of his career. Despite his hectic schedule and all the traveling it entails, he never tires of being part of that special moment. “It’s so rewarding when you get a text, call, or e-mail telling you that you did your job right, which is to make the chassan and kallah happy.”
The essence of a ben Torah, Uri is refreshingly unaffected by his success–and success could not have happened to a nicer or more deserving person. He was raised in a home steeped in Torah, and learning is an integral part of his life, which is why he learns first seder every day–regardless of how frenetic his schedule may be. Because he has opted to change careers, Uri has given up his position as a marketing executive and is focusing on his music career.
Unique in his stylistic diversity as well as his ability to reach out and appeal to every crowd, Uri is himself of Sephardic and Ashkenazic background. “I have a lot of mixed genes and sing for very different crowds,” he explained. Recently, within the same week, he performed at a Modern Orthodox wedding in Los Angeles on Sunday, and two days later, he was singing at “a very yeshivish wedding” in Baltimore. “The songs switch daily, and even at the same wedding, I can get requests from very heimish to upbeat Israeli songs.”
Uri’s keen acumen to diversify and “stir up the mix” with different shades of style is showcased in “Halevai,” his eagerly anticipated, recently released debut album. Chances are that you have experienced Uri’s high-energy performances or viewed his inspiring videos. You’ve heard his stunning voice and seen him in action, energizing the crowd in every venue. Listening to Halevai, you will discover an entirely new side to this multi-talented performer. Presented by Eli Lax, in collaboration with Naftali Schnitzler of Schnitzler Studios, Halevai is a beautifully orchestrated production. The album features compositions by Uri Damari, Motty Ilowitz, Eli Klein, Elie Schwab, and Yitzy Waldner, as well as one of Uri’s own compositions.
Uri has culled the industry’s most talented and respected arrangers, composers, musicians, sound engineers–everyone music-related–to create a truly extraordinary debut album. Sparing neither expense nor effort, he worked assiduously, curating the 11 standout tracks that make this album a game-changer in the industry. To enhance the flavor of the album and the unique style of each song, he used ten arrangers, in spite of the considerable cost and additional timeframe such precision involved. Uri–and everyone associated with the production of Halevai–is a consummate professional who takes immense pride in bringing a musical masterpiece to fruition. Featuring an abundance of musical styles and surprise touches, from Israeli to heimish to Arabic lyrics that will have you dancing in the aisles, Halevai, in the tradition of every endeavor bearing Uri Davidi’s golden touch, is a labor of love–a musical gem to be treasured by a multigenerational audience from every Jewish community the world over.
Halevai has elicited rave reviews since its release. “People are telling me how much they love the album,” says Uri. “It’s a mainstream album that is unique and different; it’s very colorful and has something for everyone. It wasn’t created with a wedding in mind, [but] rather to be enjoyed at any time or for any occasion.”
No longer apprehensive about standing in the spotlight, Uri uses his vocal talents to inspire and bring joy to his audiences, ever mindful of the true Source of his success. “Every aspect of the success of my career and my album is 1,000% from Hashem,” he says. “I try not to plan too much because I follow Hashem’s plan for me and I go wherever He sends me.”
Halevai is now available in stores and online wherever Jewish music is sold.
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative-media consultant, lecturer, and educator who writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. She welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com.