Israel's new voice

For immigrant turned ‘Voice’ winner, absorption is sweet as a song

Kathleen Reiter won the musical reality show three months after moving from Canada. Now touring and working on an album, she happily describes her new life in Israel as a ‘crazy dream’

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Kathleen Reiter (photo credit: Tal Givoni)
Kathleen Reiter (photo credit: Tal Givoni)
Kathleen Reiter (photo credit: Tal Givoni)
Kathleen Reiter (photo credit: Tal Givoni)

In the annals of immigrating to Israel, Kathleen Reiter’s winning turn in the “The Voice” — the Israeli version of the reality show pairing unknown singers with musical mentors — must rank as one of the smoother, more successful transitions.

The 23-year-old arrived from Montreal in January. Within days, at a televised blind audition for “The Voice,” she had all four judges — singers Sarit Hadad, Rami Kleinstein, Aviv Geffen and Shlomi Shabat — swiveling in their chairs to vie for her as their student. Three months later, she won the reality show contest after being coached by Hadad, and gained a recording contract with Universal Helicon. Now, she is touring Israel with other winners and singers from “The Voice.”

“I’m still living in ‘The Voice’ bubble, living out this crazy dream, going on tour, and it’s all fun and stuff,” said Reiter. “Talk to me in a couple of years [about life in Israel], but so far it’s been amazing.”

The realization of Reiter’s “crazy dream” in Israel was boosted by the fact that, unlike most young immigrants, she didn’t need to learn the language; she is fluent in Hebrew, thanks to her Israeli parents. And it was through an acquaintance of her father that she found out about “The Voice.” In turn, it offered her an instant circle of friends within the group of contestants — “a really good social setting of people that are always taking care of me,” she said.

From a promo for "The Voice" (From YouTube)
From a promo for "The Voice" (From YouTube)

“They joke all the time that ‘The Voice’ was my absorption process,” she said. “I came here not knowing anyone, but I made friends that I’ll have for life.”

Now Reiter is focusing on a new set of challenges. She worked on Hebrew and English music with Hadad, and she knows it’s important to write music in Hebrew as well as English. She plans on collaborating with Israeli songwriters in order to ease that particular process for her upcoming album.

She also feels like a newcomer in the Israeli music scene, and is exploring its sounds and people.

“I’m coming into an industry that I’m not entirely familiar with and I think that’s a good thing. I get to bring something that may not be familiar to everyone,” said Reiter, who categorized her singing as pop soul. “Filling a niche is really important when you’re starting out, and it’s a fun process to get to know different music, especially in Hebrew.”

Two new favorites are Karolina — “she screams diva and she has a voice and a presence onstage that are amazing” — and “The Voice” judge Shlomi Shabat, whose music she didn’t know beforehand and is only now discovering.

That said, she is comfortable in her new surroundings, and her Israeli identity feels “very natural,” said Reiter. Having come from an Israeli home, there are many aspects of life in Israel that are easy to adjust to, and she has the full support of her parents, who weren’t surprised that Reiter decided to make aliya.

She first thought about moving to Israel when she was 16, and found herself in Israel with a March of the Living trip that began in Poland and came to Israel for the emotional period of Memorial and Independence Days. Despite many summers spent in Israel with her parents’ families, it was Reiter’s first time here for those seminal days, and it changed her life trajectory.

“It was absolutely amazing and that’s when I started considering the idea of living in Israel,” she said. “I remember I came back home and told my dad I wanted to go to the army, just like every kid who goes to Israel and see young people in uniforms and says they want to join the army.”

Then, last summer, following a backpacking trip in Europe with friends, Reiter stopped off in Israel on the way home and felt no need to go back to Montreal. When she found out about the auditions for “The Voice,” her decision was finalized.

“In the back of your mind, you hope for a chance like this; maybe this could really be it,” she said of her reality show win. “There’s no artist or person with real ambition who wants to limit themselves. I want to take this as far as I can take it.”

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