Making his entrance into the Jewish music scene with a popular new video is Naftali Kalfa. The first single to be released from his forthcoming CD is entitled Zion, a duet based on Hebrew verses with Rabbi Shlomo Katz. In its first three days on the internet, the video received more than 40,000 hits on YouTube and other sites.
Kalfa spoke with Arutz Sheva's music department about his video and his new musical career. "The song Zion touches my heart and soul in ways I never thought music could," Kalfa stated. "For me, the message of the song is the yearning of the Jewish people for thousands of years to return to our homeland, and see the Temple / Beit Hamikdash rebuilt," he said.
The video depicts Kalfa and Katz singing and playing guitar interspersed with historic black and white footage of Jerusalem. Modern images of people praying at the Western Wall and other Jerusalem locations are interspersed as well.
"I really hope and believe that we are living in the generation where we can finally see our long awaited dreams and prayers answered and fulfilled," Kalfa stated.
The video was directed and produced by Eldad Eilat. Commenting on the message of the video, Kalfa continued, "I believe that we as a Jewish people have come a long way since the dark days of the Holocaust. Although we are still under threat from many different enemies, there now is a country where every Jewish person in the world has the right of return. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot more work to be done, but hopefully we are on the right track."
Kalfa should know about returning to Israel, as he was born abroad in Canada. He is the eldest in a family of eleven siblings. Kalfa has harbored a passion for music since his days in youth synagogue choirs. Today he works in business and importing, but still makes time for a budding music career.
"From a young age I would sing and lead performances and prayer in Shuls, school choirs and at events," Kalfa said. "I attribute my love of music to my mother who is a very talented singer and musician."
His forthcoming album has a variety of musicial influences. The track with Shlomo Katz is slow and stirring. Katz appears on four tracks off the new CD and helped produce the material. "It is rare when one is able to find a piece of their own neshama [soul] in someone’s else’s art and talent," said Katz of the project.
Kalfa also works with guitar virtuoso Yosi Piamenta, known for his blazing guitar solos and Sephardic influenced rhythms. Other well known guest stars are Israeli singer Gad Elbaz, and Moshe Levy, an American-Belizean musician currently based in Jerusalem who released several albums in the 2000s under the nickname Shyne. "I call him a poet who raps, because the lyrics he creates are incredible poetry," Kalfa states. "He adds an edgy element to the song and its message."
"The album is a labor of love for me," commented Kalfa. "I do not expect it to fit into any one specific musical genre, except I hope and pray, the genre of 'great music' that people can enjoy. We put a lot of sweat and love into this. How it plays out is up to the almighty G-d."