Rock Stars Hit Jerusalem

By Ben Ehrlich

Published August 22, 2007, issue of August 24, 2007.
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Several high-profile musical acts are set to rock the holiest city in the Holy Land. The concert, “Jerusalem Rocks!” will take place September 9 at Teddy Kollek Stadium. Billboard Top 40 powerhouse the Black Eyed Peas (who have won three Grammys in the past three years) will headline the bill, which also features progressive hip-hop collective Arrested Development (the group, which won two Grammys in 1993, will release a long-awaited reunion album October 30). The event’s organizers hope to re-establish Jerusalem as an international center of culture.

“I have never been to Jerusalem. I am so looking forward to it,” said Todd “Speech” Thomas, a founding member of Arrested Development, in an interview with The Shmooze. The group is known for its positive message of unity and social justice. “We call it ‘Life Music,’” Speech said. “It’s music that’s very realistic [and that] offers a solution to a lot of the problems, especially [problems facing] black people.”

Arrested Development has donated large portions of its royalties to Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress, the Coalition for the Homeless and UNICEF’s relief efforts in Sudan. But the group’s message is not focused strictly on issues facing Africans and African Americans. “We’ve noticed over the years,” Speech said, “that [our music] affects every race and every culture.”

The group views performing in Jerusalem, home to so many religions and cultures, as an opportunity for progress toward its goal of global improvement. “It’s been a symbol of spirituality,” Speech said of the Holy City. “With all the turmoil that’s been going on in that particular place on the planet [throughout] our time, us being there and doing our music in that place just makes it all the more significant.”

Other performers at “Jerusalem Rocks!” include The Commitments and the Israeli hip-hop group HaDag Nachash.


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