Throughout time immemorial, artists have been moved by an infinite array of sentiments and life situations. For Jewish-American pop-soul singer, songwriter, music producer, and filmmaker Eli Schwebel, inspiration is drawn from his ancestral memory and Jewish heritage.
Schwebel grew up in a musical family and descends from a long line of prolific artists. His grandfather, Aaron Schwebel, was a world-famous Cantor and his grandmother, Florence Waffner, was a mezzo-soprano who headlined at Carnegie Hall. His father, Revie Schwebel, also known as The Lion of Jewish Music, is a member of the band Dveykus, best known for pioneering the American Jewish music scene.
It was only natural that as a teenager Schwebel founded the group Lev Tahor with his childhood friends Ari Cukier, Gadi Fuchs, and Motty Jacobowitz. The group went on to find success as a first-of-its-kind Jewish music group and released a total of five albums, spearheading the renaissance of Jewish Acapella music.
Lev Tahor’s debut album was the first Jewish acapella album ever created. Lev Tahor’s self-titled album sold over 75,000 copies and created a new genre that is now a standard in Jewish culture. During the three weeks of Sefirah and for a whole year after a parent dies, Jewish people take upon themselves a time of reflection by limiting the experience of the bliss of music. Schwebel and Lev Tahor’s acapella offerings served as a means of fusing prayer and melody without players of instruments, thereby giving people spiritual sustenance while adhering to scripture during these times of mourning.
In 2014 Schwebel went on to release his first solo album titled Heart’s Mind, which was met with high acclaim and is considered a masterpiece in the Jewish music world. This opened the opportunity for Schwebel to perform alongside multiple world-renowned artists such as Mordechai Ben David, Yaakov Shwekey, Yonatan Razel, Avraham Fried, Matisyahu, 8th Day, Abie Rotenberg, Rivie Schwebel, Lipa Schmeltzer, Benny Friedman, Neshama Carlebach, Elly Kranzler and has joined D’veykus and The Rabbi’s Sons as a guest member. His performances have taken place on stages like Avery Fisher Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, The Jerusalem Theater, Universal Studios in Hollywood, and sold out performances at Joe’s Pub and David Geffen Hall.
Throughout Schwebel’s career which spans almost three decades, he surely faced adversity. Eli’s empathy for his friend who found himself in the throws of addiction created a rift in his circle, as Eli was expected to look the other way but instead had empathy. Eli was shunned by many of his peers simply for trying to help. This experience is what birthed the soul-piercing song, “Stand For You,” with true-to-life lyrics like “I love you enough for you to hate me for this.” Serendipitously, Executive Producer Israel Schachter reached out to Schwebel and requested that he write a song about addiction and sexual abuse for AMUDIM’s yearly fundraiser. The song was basically already written, but Schwebel channeled his childhood experiences of being bullied, as well as his loved one’s stories of sexual abuse to complete the song. It took him four months to finalize the masterpiece. As a result of this painful but necessary process, many in the orthodox community have felt that this song spoke to them and gave them the courage to speak out, confront their abusers, and get help from other members of the community. This created a historical moment in the Zeitgeist, and Eli received thousands of messages from listeners affirming the change that he had created in their lives.
Schwebel realized a long time ago that his life goal is to reach beneath the surface and go deeper because that’s where the magic happens. He emphasized the importance of being present when that magic arrives. Today, he is focused on creating awareness for his two main projects, Stand For You and Journey At Sea, as well as working on a brand new album to be released later this year.