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Yosis By Eli Gerstner
Country Yossi Magazine February 2001
Jewish Music at Its Energizing Best!

Eli Gerstner didn't gradually rise to celebrity status. No such luck. Fame hurled itself upon Eli and hit him like a ton of bricks. A couple of years ago, Eli was a mild-mannered bochur learning Torah in Eretz Yisroel. Today he is widely recognized as the next "big thing" to hit the music scene. Only recently he was a little-knowing counselor banging on his

 

drums in summer camp. Now you can find Eli flying across the country and performing to audiences all over the world.

Such has been the astronomical rise to fame of Eli Gerstner. Barely out of his teens and only two years after releasing his debut album. Eli is an indisputable Jewish music celebrity. Hs answering machine is overflowing with messages, his calendar is overbooked with chasunahs and concerts and people rush over to collect his autograph wherever he goes.

But fame hasn't gotten to Eli's head. In fact his feet are planted on the ground more firmly than ever before. As he continues to pursue a career in the field of Jewish music, he keeps his finger placed directly on the pulse of the listening public. And he has a keen and unerring perception of delivering the music that people want to hear.

That's why "Hinei," Eli's first album, was such a tremendous success. It actually sold out twice as fast as its producers had originally calculated. The popularity of "Hinei" is largely due to the fact that its songs and music reflect the tastes of the Jewish music lovers in our community. Yet Eli's young and refreshing style and his lively and energetic sound appeals to every segment of the musical spectrum and are enjoyed unanimously across the board.

Since the release of "Hinei," a lot has happened in Eli's life. He recently built his own recording studio. And, after voice lessons from Cantor Hersh Einhorn, the celebrated trainer, he sounds more confident and mature than ever. Eli has also made music his full-time occupation. After learning with his chavrusa each morning, Eli can be found in the recording studio, where his formidable talents are bursting forth.

The overwhelming success of "Heini" has given Eli tremendous self-confidence and allows him to maintain firm control on every aspect of his music. He is now at the threshold of releasing "Yosis", his second album, which he personally produced, composed and arranged together with Yisroel Lamm. Of course he also sings. It takes lots of courage and self-assurance to be the singular talent behind a recording album. But Eli prefers to see it as a challenge, and he is meeting that challenge with grace and aplomb.

Composing comes naturally to Eli. Eli has over 300 songs in his collection already. Of those, he has chosen 10 of the best for his new album. "Yosis" promises to sweep its listeners off their feet, with a refreshing and tantalizing new sound that's a little bit hip, a little bit daring and very, very entertaining.

But don't take our word for it. Just ask the Russian Symphony Orchestra players who accompanied Eli on this project. These professional players have been in the business for years. So you might think that they'd be a little miffed at working under the direction of an arranger and conductor who's half their age. Yet when they followed Eli's compositions, they referred to him with the honorable title "Maestro"! And when the songs were finally recorded, they congratulated him and told him they loved the sound.

"Bo'ee B'sholom" is the quintessential Eli. The music is high-tech, youthful, and spirited. The incessant drumbeat is irresistible. Eli calls it "the song" on this album, perfectly suited for our modern sensibilities and tastes.

Eli's songs sometimes enjoy popularity before they're even released. "Mi Adir" is a powerful melody that Eli sometimes sings at chassunahs, and it invariably receives a tremendous response. Before you know it everyone's singing along with him. The song is now being requested regularly at weddings and is a bona fide hit before it's even officially on this recording.

Consider the fact that "Mi Adir," "Bo'ee B'sholom," and "Yosis" (written by Yossi Neuman) are some of the songs on this album, and you can't help but notice that Eli has chasunahs very much on his mind. "These are the songs that people want to hear," he explains. "There's a special energy and enthusiasm to wedding music that energizes people and brings them joy."

As an Ambassador of Song, Eli recognizes his responsibility to the community at large. He entertains on behalf of Chai Lifeline and other similar organizations. "The most rewarding part of being an entertainer," Eli confides, "is the moment when you sing for a child in a hospital room and bring a genuine smile to his face." Invariable the children and their parents are very grateful to Eli for momentarily easing their pain and offering them chizuk through music.

Eli once got a call from a young boy who wanted to attend a concert, but the boy was too weak to come to the theater. So Eli went to his hospital room instead. Together with a keyboard player, Eli sang for him all night long. Eli was so moved by the experience that he composed "Refoaynu," in honor of this brave young boy who refused to allow his tragic circumstances prevent him from enjoying his love of Jewish music.

There's a lot more happening in Eli Gerstner's life than meets the eye. Aside from "Yosis," he is also involved in producing an a cappella album in conjunction with Yisroel Lamm. Why a cappella? "It's something I always wanted to do," Eli explains. "When the vocalists sing in beautiful harmony without instrumentation, they can't hide behind the music. Their singing has to be perfect." Typical Eli. Always daring to reach out and tackle the great challenges in the field.

As if all this weren't enough for anyone to chew on, Eli has still another major musical project in the works. He is in the midst of producing "The Chevra," a very energetic and leibedik album featuring four talented young voices. Eli relishes the special harmonies and unique sounds that define a group album. And he enjoys the special thrill of producing and arranging this recording at his own EG Studios. "I get a different perspective of the music," he points out, "From the other side of the desk."

As a result of all this activity, Eli is certainly getting a lot of attention from the musical world. He's being noticed by the biggest entertainers in the industry and is being heralded as a "true talent" by some of the most respected names in Jewish music. He's also being inundated by calls and requests from amateur vocalists across the community. Eli doesn't mind giving them his attention. "Some of the very best choirs," he points out, "are made up of regular guys who happen to have lots of untapped talent," Like Eli, they may have been amusing their campers somewhere in the Catskills or strumming a guitar late at night in a dorm. But it's finally time for them to share their talents with the rest of the world.

It's clear that Eli Gerstner is a force to be reckoned with in Jewish music. And his refreshing sound will soon become part of our collective musical conscience. He is about to release a succession of distinctive albums and is already among the most popular entertainers on the simcha and concert scene. Quite an accomplishment for someone who barely had time to rise among the ranks. So the next time you come across the name "Eli Gerstner", bear in mind: It's a name you'll be hearing over and over again for a long time to come.

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