Gitit Shoval’s soon to be released EP Autumn Leaves is music to lift up your soul. The five song album contains such classics as “Blowin’ In the Wind,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and the goose-bump raising “Hallelujah.” Majestically orchestrated, and stylistically vocalized, this is a CD to bring you peace on those rainy and trying days.
Gitit’s voice is warm and enveloping, sweet without being saccharine. Accompanying Gitit on “Blowin’ in the Wind” is Layth Sidiq, an amazing young Jordanian violinist. There are also delicate piano notes lacing this ever-timely track. It’s Gitit’s voice that rules on “Hallelujah,” a track which quite frankly had the tears coursing down my face. Sometimes our vocabulary just can’t describe something of such great beauty. In modern colloquialism, she just kills it.
The same holds true for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Her poignancy and the simple piano backing goes straight to the heart and may even curl your toes with joy. If you aren’t in musical ecstasy yet, the stylishly haunting “Autumn Leaves” should seal the deal. The album closes with “Make You Feel My Love” which truly broke my musical heart. Most of you know me as a headbanger, heavy metal loving rock chick, but this EP is something special that will touch even the most hardened of hearts.
Gitit’s background is as diverse and as magical as her music. The one time Israeli mega-star was the voice of Barbie and Smurfette in her native country. She served in the Israeli army and performed for many nations’ armed forces, including the United States. She has recorded dozens of albums in Hebrew. “Autumn Leaves” is her first recording solely in English.
Gitit was first discovered at the pre-Eurovision contest of 1979 when she was just 13 years old. From that magical night, she became an overnight success and spent the remainder of her teen years singing all over Israel. At the early age of 16, Gitit released her first solo album, “Taklit Rishon.” The young star had already performed in countless venues and events, appeared in all the biggest television and radio shows of the time. She continued claiming the stages of the most prestigious and highly regarded festivals of the country. At the age of 18, Shoval began her service for the IDF as a solo performer. As part of her service, Gitit performed all over Israel to lift the spirits of the soldiers serving. Shoval was also sent to represent the IDF in a fundraising tour in the United States.
About the time Gitit completed her army service, she met the person who later became her husband, musical producer and Berklee College of Music graduate, Ron Druyan (who produced “Autumn Leaves.”). The pair began working on Gitit’s second album, “Al Tagid She’lo Amarti,” or “Don’t Say I Didn’t Say So.”
In 1992,Gitit was chosen to represent Israel in the International Music Festival of Bucharest, Romania, and in 1993, Gitit Shoval released the album “Achshav Kvar Ken,” or “Now I Do,” that featured a collection of original works. Some of the songs were written by Gitit and Ron, while others were written by some of Israel’s leading poets including Ehud Manor, Tzruya Lahav, and David Avidan among others.
Gitit and Ron are people of incredible, diverse talent. After the release of “Now I Do,” Shoval took a short break from music, opening her own production studios with Ron. Tomitoot Productions instantly became one of the top studios in Israel, dealing mainly with cartoon voice-overs. In addition to her musical work, Gitit provided the Hebrew voices for many of the most iconic cartoon characters, including Smurfette from the Smurfs and Barbie from the Barbie direct-to-DVD movie series. In addition, the studios produced 4 platinum selling holiday albums in Hebrew, starring Gitit.
In 2003 Gitit and Ron relocated to North America along with their four children. This transition elongated the making of Shoval’s next project. This incredibly talented and unstoppable lady went on to create an album dedicated to one of Israel’s greatest writers, Naomi Shemer. The vision behind this project was to create musical arrangements that matched the wit of Ms. Shemer’s lyrics. The right person for the job was Yossi Ben-Nun, the top musical theater composer, arranger and musical director in Israel, and also Gitit’s cousin. “Gitit Shoval Sings Naomi Shemer” arranged fully for symphonic orchestra, was released in 2005.
After taking a few years off, Shoval is finally returning to her number one passion: the love of music. Gitit has been working this collection of her favorite songs for quite some time and is finding her new American audience to be as adoring as her Israeli fans.
Several of her videos are available for streaming on YouTube now. Please check them out here, and pick up a copy of “Autumn Leaves” on October 20th. It’s available on iTunes now for pre-order.