Artzi, Shlomo

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ARTZI, SHLOMO (1949– ), Israeli pop-rock singer-song-writer. Artzi was born at Alonei Abba in Galilee. He made his first public appearance as a singer as a high school student, at an international youth conference in Spain. Like many of his contemporaries Artzi began his musical career during his compulsory national service, though due to his high medical profile he initially began his three-year stint in the idf as a regular serviceman. It was only a year later that he gained a slot in the Navy band.

In stark contrast with his later career, Artzi debuted with the Navy troupe as a backing vocalist but soon made an impact, becoming the band's soloist in their next show, "Rhapsody in Blue." Artzi's spots in the show included "Ke-she-Ehyeh Gaddol" ("When I'm Older"), "Ha-Malakh Gavriel" ("Angel Gabriel"), and "Anshei Ha-Ẓefarde'a Anshei ha-Demamah" ("The Frogmen, the Silent Ones"), all of which became hits on the pop charts and the road to Artzi's stardom was open. His stellar status was sealed when he won the National Song Festival in 1970, performing in his navy uniform, with a song called "Pittom Akhshav, Pittom ha-Yom" ("Suddenly Now, Suddenly Today"). Later that year he released his first solo record, Shlomo Artzi, The First Record, which included a new version of "Pittom Akhshav, Pittom ha-Yom," and received the prestigious David Harp's award. This was to be the first of many awards.

In 1971 he recorded his second solo effort, Al Anashim ("About People"), which primarily comprised original compositions, and took part in the musical movie Ḥasamba ve-Na'arei ha-Hefker ("Hasamba and the Gang"). The following year he teamed up with former Navy buddies Dadi Schlessinger and Etchie Stroh to form the Geverret Tapu'akh (Madam Apple) trio, which released four records between 1972 and 1975.

In 1975 it looked like Artzi was about to embark on an international career, when he recorded a single with German lyrics for Decca Telefunken. He was also asked by Switzerland to represent it at that year's Eurovision Song Contest, but ultimately represented Israel with "At ve-Ani" ("You and I"), which placed eleventh.

It was three years later that Artzi really hit the jackpot, with his 1978 album Gever Holekh Le'Ibbud ("A Man Loses His Way"), on which Artzi managed to lose his image as the baby-faced teen idol and take on a new angst-filled persona. It was an image that was to serve him well and almost all his releases to date have been big sellers.

After teaming up with producer Louis Lahav, in 1984, Artzi recorded Tirkod ("Dance") and was voted Singer of the Year. His 1988 release Ḥom Yuli-August ("July–August Heat") was the first double album ever made by an Israeli solo artist and, in 2000, his Ahavtiḥemcd became his biggest seller to date.

[Barry Davis (2nd ed.)]