Shiri Maimon
Shiri Maimon (Orit Pnini)

A digital program because of the worldwide pandemic, the concert will feature her live vocals joined by a keyboard accompanist.

Shiri Maimon, applauded as both the “Beyoncé of Israel” and a Broadway star, is this year’s guest entertainer appearing in the Laker Concert.

A digital program because of the worldwide pandemic, the concert will feature her live vocals joined by a keyboard accompanist. It runs 4-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, and is hosted by Temple Israel.

“Performing for Jewish communities around the world is always an honor and a pleasure,” said Maimon, who is expected to combine pop and blues Israeli songs with numbers by Jewish composer John Kander and Jewish lyricist Fred Ebb for the musical Chicago, the show that brought her to New York to play lead character Roxie Hart.

“I am always happy to bring the Israeli flavor abroad and see how the audience unites when I sing both songs from my repertoire as well as famous and known classic Israeli songs.

“Normally, I get to meet the people, talk and hear their stories. Unfortunately, this time it will be contactless, and yet I am sure the warm welcoming I always get from the Jewish communities will be felt. I will love to visit Detroit so, hopefully, we’ll have the chance to sing together face-to-face very, very soon.”

Temple Israel Cantor Michael Smolash is at the center of arranging this annual event, which started in 1993 and is a Laker family gift to the community in honor of the late Sarah and Harry Laker.

“Shiri Maimon is probably the most exciting act ever brought in for the Laker Concert,” Cantor Smolash said. “Strangely, the reason we could was probably because of COVID. We wanted to see what advantage virtual programming might give because of not dealing with flights and schedules in the normal way.

“We decided not to limit our guest search even to North America, and we called on one of the biggest stars in Israel to see if that person would appear.”

Maimon, who has recorded three acclaimed albums and was a judge on the Israeli version of The Voice, will be making her Michigan debut.

“A concert from Israel brings something special,” said the cantor, who reminds viewers that the varied live performances, scheduled close to Passover, had to be canceled this year because of the pandemic.

“Shiri Maimon has a great Broadway voice, but when she does pop, she has a great R&B sound. She’s a really versatile singer. We always have our eyes out for Israeli entertainers who are [traveling in the United States].”

Maimon, who grew up near Haifa, launched her career when she was 10 by appearing in a children’s musical. Drafted into military service in 2000, she became a vocalist in the Air Force Band.

In 2003, Maimon auditioned for Israel’s version of American Idol and attained second place, gained public popularity and was signed by Helicon Records, a licensee of Universal and EMI Records.

While she was a presenter on a daily TV show, her second single, “Time to Say Goodbye,” was chosen to represent Israel in the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest. Her namesake first album launched her first concert tour.

Credits since then include roles in a musical version of the movie HaLehaka (The Band) and in the Habima National Theatre production of Evita.

Martin Laker remains enthusiastic about the concerts, especially because they celebrate his late father’s love for music, both spiritual and secular. He watched Maimon for the first time on the web after Cantor Smolash recommended shining the spotlight on her. 

“She was magnificent with a wonderful voice, and we’re lucky she was available,” said Laker, whose one criterion for choosing performers is imagining his father tapping his toes to the beat and softly singing along. “There’s no doubt in my mind that people will love seeing her, particularly during this time, when joy and entertainment are so needed.”

While the Lakers look forward to a return of in-person performers for future concerts, they welcome viewers outside of Michigan tuning in digitally. One viewer will be Aviv Ezra, Israel’s consul general to the Midwest.

“Let me congratulate Temple Israel on presenting one of the Jewish state’s brightest stars,” he said. “I am very proud of any chance to share the sublime arts and culture scene in Israel and so excited for Michiganders and Israelis to connect through Shiri’s uplifting music and captivating presence. Enjoy this musical treasure.” 

Details:

To preview Shiri Maimon’s talents and learn how to watch her show at 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13, go to temple-israel.org.

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