Many music fans know the names of the famous winners and runners-up of the successful reality competition American Idol including San Diegans Adam Lambert and Jessica Sanchez. But Idol-type competitions are not limited to the United States, taking place in dozens of countries around the world.
The San Diego Chapter of the Jewish National Fund brought Hagit Yaso, the “Israeli Idol,” to the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla for a one-night only benefit concert performance on Monday, January 7. The San Diego stop was the third night of a seven city U.S. Tour. Yaso told the audience she was especially excited to hear she would be coming to San Diego, and had found it “extremely beautiful.”
Yaso, age 23, was born in Israel to Ethiopian parents who immigrated to Israel through Sudan, and has four siblings. She grew up and still lives in city of Sderot, along the border with Gaza. In the past, she participated in local and national singing contests, frequently winning. She was a member of the “Sderot Youth” singing group, and served in a military band in the Israel Defense Forces.
Yaso’s life changed when she entered herself in Israel’s version of American Idol, which is called Kokhav Nolad 9 meaning “A Star is Born.” As she did in La Jolla on Monday night, Yaso sings in several languages including Hebrew, English, Moroccan, and Amharic. Throughout the show, she won “Best Performance” several times. Yaso reached the finals and was named the winner.
Following her accomplishment, Yaso and her family were invited to meet Israel’s President Shimon Peres. They told Peres about their immigration to Israel. Hagit Yaso is a national example of success among the immigrant Ethiopian community, or “olim.”
Since winning, Yaso sang the theme song for the Israeli film My Beautiful Sister, From the Day You Left, which she performed as part of Israeli Idol. It was among the highlights of the San Diego concert, along with her rendition of Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack.
Hagit Yaso’s debut album is expected later this year. Yaso’s San Diego appearance is part of a U.S tour on behalf of the Jewish National Fund, which supports the development and infrastructure of land and settlements in Israel through its funding of programs in seven areas including education, community development, ecology, forestry, water, tourism and recreation, and security.
—This article was submitted to La Jolla Patch.