Shlomo Artzi - biography
Shlomo Artzi (Hebrew: שלמה ארצי) is an Israeli folk rock singer-songwriter and composer. He was born on November 26, 1949 in Moshav Alonei Abba. In the course of his career, he has sold over 1.5 million albums, making him one of Israel's most successful male singers.
Artzi's parents were Holocaust survivors and their memories deeply influenced him and his sister Nava Semel, a playwright. His father, Yitzhak Artzi, in his youth Zionist activist in Bucovina, Romania, was later a member of the Knesset. When Artzi was 8 years old, his family moved to northern Tel Aviv. Artzi's schoolmates thought he would become an actor, not a musician, as he was known for his acting skills at primary school. However, at the age of 12 he started playing the guitar and singing in a boy scouts group and at friends' parties. At age 16, he began writing and composing songs. During his military service, he was first recruited to the Artillery Corps, and after serving for a year and a half, he joined Lehakat Kheil Hayam (Naval Corps Entertainment Group). During his service in the group, he took part in the programs "And On The Third Day" and "Rhapsody in Blue", alongside other soon-to-be Israeli celebrities, such as Rivka Zohar, Dov Glikman, Avi Uriah, Riki Gal, and more. He was yet to stand out during the first program, but by the second program he became the lead singer and one of the main stars. He sang lead vocals on several songs on the Group's LPs.
In 1970 Artzi had the opportunity to take part in the Israeli Song Festival, a prestigious song contest held every year. Still in military service and wearing a military uniform, he sang Pitom Achshav, Pitom Hayom (Suddenly Now, Suddenly Today), also known as Ahavtiha (I loved her). The song, written by Tirza Atar and composed by Ya'akov Hollander, won first prize. It was included in his first album, Shlomo Artzi, which came out in 1970, and came in first in the annual chart-toppers countdown of Kol Israel. Artzi was voted Best Singer of the Year.
In 1977, after a string of failures, he decided to make one last record "the way a record should be made." The success of this album, "A Man Losing His Way" ( גבר הולך לאיבוד,Gever Holekh Le'ibud), persuaded Artzi to continue with his singing career, which rose throughout the 1980s and reached a peak with the release of the albums "Dance" (Tirkod) and "Restless Night" (לילה לא שקט,Layla Lo Shaket) which sold tens of thousands, and with the live shows that accompanied these albums, which would sell out the largest parks and theatres in Israel. His later album sales, in excess of a hundred-thousand per album, and the live shows that followed each album, made him the most popular artist in Israel; Based on album sales and gross income from live shows, he is the most successful singer in Israel. Artzi has sold a total of over a million and a half albums, an unprecedented achievement in the Israeli music industry. He is well known for his marathon live shows, some of which last over two or even three hours.
In 1975 he was selected to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest. The selected song was At Va'Ani (You and Me), written by the legendary Israeli songwriter Ehud Manor, and composed by Artzi himself. To seize the moment, Artzi's record label pressured him to record a completely new record in less than 2 weeks. However, At Va'Ani didn't win the contest, and the album was a big disappointment.
This marked the beginning of the worst era of Artzi's career. During the next several years, Artzi released several records that failed to sell well, and produced very little hit singles. Later, most of these albums would become rare collectibles, as they were never released again. These include, among others, Miskhakey 26, Shlomo Artzi Shar U'Mesaper Al Ian HaGamad, Yesh Li Isha Yalda Ve'Lambreta Ve'Ani Gar Be'Tel-Aviv, Romansa U'Piyut, and a selection of his best songs from the period 1970-1973 which was released in 1976.
In 1977, almost ready to give up on a singing career, Artzi wished to record one last album "the way a record should be made", and was allowed to do so by the record company. He recorded He Lost His Way, a sort of last good-bye to the business.
Nevertheless, the album was a big success and revived Artzi's career, which from this moment on would rise, and keep rising, to unprecedented heights in the Israeli music industry.
In 1979 he recorded Drachim (Ways), with a fresher style. His 1981 LP Chatzot (Midnight) was the second part of Drachim.
In 1980 Artzi started his own radio show on Israel's Army Radio, Galey Tsahal. In this show, he talked about the week's headlines and tells interesting stories he has heard or seen during the week. Od Lo Shabat (It isn't Saturday yet) is still broadcasted every Friday at 13:10 local time.
His records Tirkod (Dance, 1984), "Layla Lo Shaket" (Restless Night, 1986), and Hom Yuli August (July August Heat, 1988), are milestones of Israeli 80's songwriting. The albums sold in excess of a hundred thousand copies, an unprecedented achievement in the Israeli music industry, and the live shows that accompanied the albums would sell out even the largest parks and theatres in Israel.
In 1992 Artzi released Yareakh (Hebrew: ירח, Moon), one of his most successful albums. Out of twelve songs on it, eight became radio hits and finally solidified Artzi's status in Israeli popular music.
In 1995 popular Israeli musicians recorded together a CD in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, named Shalom Chaver. Shlomo Artzi played two songs during the memorial service, which later became anthems of those days - Haish Ha'hu (That Man) and Uf Gozal (Fly Little One), which was originally written and recorded by Arik Einstein and Miki Gavrielov. In 1996 he released an album called Shnayim (Two), which has sold 160,000 copies (4x platinum). The most notable songs in this CD were the title track, sung with Israeli singer Rita, "Menagev Lach Et Hadmaot" (Wiping Your Tears) and "Ze Ma Shenish'ar" (That's All That Is Left). Containing his best love songs, Artzi released Ahavtihem (I Have Loved Them) four years later. His album Tzima'on (Thirst), which was released in 2002, sold 150,000 and is one of Israel's bestsellers.
At the end of 2006 Shlomo Artzi announced his new album Shfuim, to be released in the spring of 2007. A new single from this album, "HaAmiti", became available during the first days of January, 2007.
In 2007, the most anticipated album in the Israel's music industry was Artzi's next album "Shfuim" (Sane). The album came out in July, with an already hit single "HaAmiti" (The Real) and the new hit single "Island" (Iceland). Featuring a collaboration with the Israeli rapper Mook E. of Shabak Samech fame, the album became a hit selling over 150,000 copies and another hit single "Nitzmadnu" (We Got Closer).
Artzi is married secondly, having 3 children from first marriage: Ben Artzi (singer), Shiri Artzi (book-critic and book-writer) and Jonathan Artzi.
Today, Artzi resides in Tel-Aviv.
Artzi is known as a fan of the soccer team Maccabi Netanya, and in 1971 Artzi Composed Maccabi Netanya's Championship song.