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Thursday, May 28, 2015

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Former Montrealer in Israeli song competition

Tags: Israel
Kathleen Reiter [Yanai Yechiel photo]

TEL AVIV — It takes a big voice and a chunk of audacity to cover British star singer Adele’s Rolling in the Deep – especially live on television. But that’s exactly what Montrealer Kathleen Reiter did recently on the debut episode of the new Israeli Channel 2 reality show, The Voice.

Reiter, 23 – the same age as Adele – proved that she, too, has an impressive singing voice.

“I chose to sing Rolling in the Deep mostly because the song has so much soul and it does something to people, it moves them, and for me, this is what I look for when I’m performing onstage,” Reiter told The CJN.

Although the story behind the participant is not meant to sway opinion on the show, Reiter’s aliyah from Montreal has piqued interest among viewers and the judges alike.  She arrived in Israel just a few days before the taping of the show.

“I am so proud of where I come from. I grew up in Montreal, and I think that just growing up there made me into this person that I am today,” she said. “I take a lot of pride in where I come from. As a Jew, it was important for me to make a home here, in Israel, as well.”

Reiter’s parents are Israelis and she grew up speaking Hebrew, English and French at home – making her aliyah a little easier as she already speaks the language. She is the youngest of three siblings and says she is “a typical last child.”

On a visit to Israel last summer, she heard about auditions for the The Voice and decided to try her luck. Reiter moved to Tel Aviv by herself, leaving her parents, brother and sister back in Montreal.

“I think it was the right thing for me,” she said of aliyah. “As a Jew, I’ve always felt a strong sense of belonging in Israel, and this is what ultimately made me choose to live here.”

It isn’t by chance that her debut audition is still reverberating among Israeli television viewers. Reiter has taken voice-training lessons since she was 12 years old, focusing on pop and classical music. At the age of 15, while still a student at Herzliah High School, she won Montreal’s first Jewish Idol competition organized by Centre Hillel.

“Jewish Idol was an amazing experience, and I can only hope that my journey on The Voice continues to be as amazing as my blind audition was,” she said. All I can say is that I will certainly work very hard to make it happen.”

The Voice is a vocal competition based on Holland’s top-rated vocal talent discovery show, The Voice of Holland. It features three stages of competition: blind audition (the mentors/judges sit with their backs to the contestants and swivel their chairs around if they like the voice they’re hearing and then court the contestant to their teams); battle phase (a vocal face-off between two contestants), and live performance (finalists compete during a live broadcast).

The four Israeli mentors/judges are Aviv Geffen, Sarit Hadad, Shlomi Shabat and Rami Kleinstein. The host is local television personality Michael Aloni.

The show is aired every Saturday night. The opening episode broke records for the Reshet production team with a 43.4 per cent rating of 1.6 million viewers. Reiter has her eye set on the final prize – a recording contract.

Although the show has only just begun, her powerful rendition of Rolling in the Deep has already made her a favourite. During the blind audition, she was the first contestant to prompt all four judges to turn their swivel seats and woo her to their teams. She even got Kleinstein to stand up and dance while she was singing.

“It was surreal. I couldn’t believe that these four amazing artists were saying so many wonderful things,” she said. “I have so much respect for all four of the mentors, and having them say these amazing things, it’s humbling and I was just amazed.”

On stage, she is a power ball of energy.  “The stage is the place I am the most comfortable. It’s my home,” she said. “I’m usually very shy and quiet, but when I perform all that changes.”

She chose Hadad as her mentor after the acclaimed Israeli songstress told Reiter that “it’s all about girl power.”

She also gives credit to her grandfather for her love of music. She told the judges that she remembers listening to him sing when she was younger and says she got her voice from him.

While the remaining auditions are still underway, the team behind The Voice continues to release short bio videos of the contestants who made the cut for the next round. Reiter’s videos are hugely popular, with more than 70,000 hits already.

“I’m so proud to be a part of The Voice here in Israel,” she said. “I came to Israel to have a new start. It’s my dream to have a career in music. Hopefully, I can have a career in music in Israel.”

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