Israeli Qawwal, Shye Ben Tzur’s Ajmer Connection

Shye Ben Tzur performing at TaBlu Music Fest 2018

The internationally acclaimed artiste, Shye Ben Tzur is deeply connected to our city, Ajmer. Popularly known as the Israeli qawwal, Shye Ben Tzur is a composer, producer and poet, who resides in Israel and India. His collaboration with Radiohead multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood and the Rajasthan Express for Junun was a worldwide hit. The video of the song shot at Mehrangarh, Jodhpur and it was documented by Paul Anderson Thomas. The 54-minute film was also screened at New York Film Festival and Jio MAMI.

Ben Tzur’s music journey started more than 15 years ago “I have attended a concert featuring flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia and tabla maestro Zakir Hussain in my country. The music they played really touched me that made me come to India for music. I have spent most of my adulthood in India, and since then I am collaborating with Indian musicians,” shared the musician in an interview.

Ajmer has played an important role in Ben Tzur’s journey. He learnt bansuri from Chaurasia and dhrupad from Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar, and then went to Ajmer and fell in love with qawwali. “I have stayed in Ajmer, Rajasthan for many years. While I was staying there, I worked with many qawwals and during that time I came across with various genres musicians and communities,” said the musician. During his stay in India, Ben Tzur even married a girl from Ajmer.

He read about Sufism, lived with the Sufis of Ajmer and befriended with Rajasthani qawwals, and later he started creating his own qawwalis. Though during his stay in Ajmer he learned Urdu and Hindi, he decided to write his lyrics in Hebrew.

Pic credit: Rolling Stones

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