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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

The music group Idan Raichel Project is a success story you've probably never heard of. The multi-platinum selling group from Israel is just now releasing their first CD in the U.S.

Producer Derek Rath has more.

DEREK RATH: In 2002, Idan Raichel, a relatively unknown producer and musician in Israel, decided to make some demo recordings with some of his friends to try to get a record deal. It was a very street level affair. Actually, below street level.

Mr. IDAN RAICHEL (Producer; Musician): It all started in my parent's basement. I just built the studio, which I invited friends of mine from different regions, different places.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. RAICHEL: And they would immigrate to Israel from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, or the camps of Sudan or from Uruguay, the South American community in Israel, from Yemen or from Morocco.

(Soundbite of music)

RATH: After being turned down several record companies, the demos were picked up by Helicon Records, which decided to release them as they were. The first single, "Boee," shot to top of the Israeli charts.

(Soundbite of song "Boee")

Mr. RAICHEL: (Singing in foreign language)

RATH: Idan Raichel's music incorporates Hebrew traditions. It also embraces Israel's multicultural immigrant population - particularly strong is the musical influence of Ethiopians.

(Soundbite of music)

The message of love, faith, and respect for diversity resonates with listeners.

Mr. RAICHEL: There is some side effects to the - my project. You know, there is a very good thing by creating role models from the Ethiopian communities so that youngsters from the Ethiopian community can be proud of. Or from the Arab community. (Unintelligible) the Palestinians single of the project, which leads in high find. It's - you know, integration is not by talking. It's about creating it.

(Soundbite of music)

RATH: The Idan Raichel Project's debut CD went multi-platinum in Israel, garnering them Best Single, Artist of the Year, and Best Album awards.

In 2005, the second CD, "Out of the Depths," was released to similar acclaim. And it is the compilation of the two that has just been released in America, simply titled "The Idan Raichel Project."

(Soundbite of song "Out of the Depths")

Mr. RAICHEL: (Singing in foreign language)

RATH: Although the group's songs of harmony have touched a nerve in Israel and around the world, Idan Raichel professes modestly that it was not his intention to make any socio-political statement.

Mr. RAICHEL: I have to admit that there is no other goal. It's just music, just to do music. You know, if you talk sometimes in - about racism, it's not about bad people, it's about inner race. As soon as we can find, you know, Mira Hangwa Awad(ph), the Palestinian singer, singing with workers at Wasader(ph), the Maharlika(ph) singer singing with some 84 years old Yusuf Sugbana(ph), the Yemenite singing. So they all know about each other. You know, when create all this melting pot on the CD.

RATH: It has been said before, that many languages can find a common voice through music. As if to illustrate that point, the Idan Raichel Project just received the Persian Golden Lioness Award for excellence in the music.

For NPR News, this is Derek Rath, in Los Angeles.

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