By COLlive reporter
The debut album of Mordechai Shapiro, star soloist of the Miami Boys Choir in 1997, was released in music and online stores under the title “Kol Haderech.”
The 26-year-old is shown on the cover sitting on a suitcase, a nod to his life journey which has thus far taken him from his childhood Monsey, NY, to Israel after getting married.
It was in the Holy Land that Shapiro started singing at simchas, leading him to pursue an active role in the Jewish music industry. Music wasn’t foreign to him having sung “Racheim” with Yaakov Shwekey at Miami 25 concert.
After moving back to New York, Shapiro quickly became a familiar name on the wedding scene, singing with many of the popular orchestras. The road was short to his name being mentioned and working with music producers Avraham Zamist and Sruly Meyer.
One of the album’s songs was written by Meyer along with Baruch Levine and Shapiro, in memory of California Shliach Rabbi Ariel Rav-Noy who tragically passed away a little over a year ago at the young age of 36.
“Within days of this tragedy, Ariel’s sister wrote an article, to try to make some kind of sense of this great and shocking loss,” Meyer says. “A couple months later, a young man in Crown Heights, Nadiv Kehaty, tragically passed away. Both losses felt very personal and very heartbreaking,” Meyer says.
Ariel’s sister, Shlucha Racheli Muchnik, wrote that, “I learned that when Moshiach comes, we will say ‘hayinu kecholmim’ and we will look back at this reality called galus as one long bad dream.”
Muchnik wrote that while the family was going to a heartbreaking funeral and are facing an indescribable journey ahead, “it really is not true, because any moment now, literally any second, this reality will be busted. We will see that it was indeed never real to begin with! It is a facade, a process.”
Meyer was deeply affected by the post, and relates, “There have been too many such tragedies in our communities, and this concept struck me as something so raw, and true. So last summer, we sat together, and took the words which are quoted in the post, ‘Shir Hamaalos,’ and it took shape in song.
“When we are returned to Eretz Yisroel, when Moshiach comes, we will see it was all just a dream. The point of view here is that this world, filled with its suffering and pain, it was just a dream, a bad dream, and when Moshiach comes, we will see that, we will be awake, and see the true world,” Meyer says.
“The final part of the song, is a chant, a happy, upbeat melody, with people just singing along, no words,” Meyer says. “This melody conveys the eventual peace and understanding that we will achieve when Moshiach comes. People singing, children laughing, eternal happiness,” he explains.
AUDIO: Sample of Shir Hamaalos
9 other songs are featured on the new album, 4 of them were composed by Yitzy Waldner, who calls Shapiro “a breath of fresh air.” Waldner says Shapiro “can do things with his voice that no one else in the business can do.”
The title track Kol Haderech was composed by Waldner with original words by Miriam Israeli, who also wrote Benny Friedman’s hit song Yesh Tikvah.
The song explores the bond between the Jewish people and Hashem. According to producers, “it teaches that no matter what troubles we’ve been through as a nation or as an individual, we never forgot about Hashem. We hope and pray that he too will always watch over and protect us.”
The album features two striking ballads from Baruch Levine, including Ki Malachov and Shir Hamaalos. The idea of Shir Hamaalos was inspired by a letter written after two terrible tragedies took two young fathers from their families. In the song’s lyrics, “Hayinu Kecholmim” we look forward to the day when Moshiach will arrive, that we will wake up from the “dream” of this long Golus.
Elie Schwab, another composer known for smart lyrics with great messages, contributed Schar Mitzvah, with music by Ian Freitor and Chizku with music by Israeli music star Udi Damari, to the album.
Schwab said that Chizku was inspired by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech about the Iran nuclear deal before the joint session of the U.S. Congress, where he cited a posuk from Parshas Devarim.
“The Jewish nation is about enter Eretz Yisroel, and they look to Moshe to lead them there,” Schwab explains. “Lo Uchal Od Latzet v’lavoh, Moshe says, I can no longer be your leader as my time has come. Don’t fear, it was Hashem who has carried you until now, and He who will continue to carry you. Be strong! Chizku Ve’imtzu!”
The album was completed by additional songs from rising music star and composer Boruch Sholom Blesofsky titled “Umeloch,” with music by Ian Freitor.
There is also a song composed by Mordechai Shapiro himself titled “Lo Alecha,” with music arranged by Zamist.
The album features arrangements by Ian Freitor, Udi Damari, Tzvi Blumenfeld, Avrumi Berko, Yoni Eliav, Eli Lishinsky and Avraham Zamist.