In the United States as a whole, and among the hassidic community in particular, Shmueli Ungar has enjoyed superstar status for several years, even though he hasn't even put out a single album. Clips from events in which he took part receive hundreds of thousands of views and shares, and his vocal talents are on a rare level for the genre.
After two years of silence, in which he was holed in in the studio along with legendary producer Naftali Schnitzler, Ungar is releasing the first single from an album that will come out this Tu B'av.
Many musicians have already been exposed to some of the material and were deeply moved by the melodies, the words, the arrangement and the quality of production. "When Shmueli Ungar turned to me he spoke differently from every other artist I've talked to," explained conductor and arranger Yoeli Dikman. "He asked me to take charge of arranging the vocals and the choruses but added that I can't hold anything back. He wants it as big as possible. I felt free to give flight to any idea that came to mind. I don't see any need to say much about his vocal abilities. He gives a unique meaning to every song, and every song on this album is a hit."
Moshe Laufer and Pinki Weber wrote music for the album, along with young stars who contributed their talents, including Yossi Hannig, the son of Rabbi Isaac.
The first single is in honor of Shavuot, the opening of the wedding season, and is a catchy tune composed by Moshe Laufer to the words of "Od Yishama." Bands in Israel and abroad will play it non-stop this summer.
"G-d willing, I will perform a wedding almost every night," says Shmueli Hanger. "It's impossible not to notice that most of the hit songs performed at weddings for the past few decades are the fruits of Moshe Laufer. He gave me an opportunity to remake a tune for the text with which I welcome the bride and groom every night."
Moshe Laufer says: "Shmueli comes from a hassidic background and this doesn't prevent him from having a professional grace. It's a pleasure to hear him perform every song in an amazing match to the style without letting his background creep in… This melody is a classic hassidic one, at the same time rhythmic and fit for dancing, but also emotional. I was awed by his conquering personality. He is sympathetic and full of energy, and when he sings emotional songs, you discover his great soul. I have known many singers over my career but it has been especially fun to know Shmueli. He has all the features of a singer who will remain with us for a long time and I believe that he will find success wherever he goes."