An American Star Is Born in Israel

The Israeli version of American Idol, Kochav Nolad, has been airing its preliminary auditions as it weeds candidates down to the couple dozen finalists who will compete for the coveted prize which is an inside track to national stardom.

Among current top performers who got their start on the show are folks like Harel Skaat, who represented Israel not too successfully in the latest Eurovision contest, Ninet Tayeb and Shiri Maimon.

One audition this year among the pop and mizrahi wannabees that has caught the nation’s attention has been Nikia Brown’s. A convert to Judaism from Kansas City, Missouri, the African American immigrant to Israel makes up for her lack of Hebrew with an amazing voice and stage presence.

The judges, including Dana International and Pablo Rosenberg, were taken aback with her phonetically-rendered rendition of the standard “Uf Gozal,” which was given a soulful twist by the 34-year-old singer.

However, while placing here in the finals, the judges insisted that Brown take a crash course in Hebrew in order to learn songs for the weekly competition. So, that’s what she’s been doing for the last month.

When the next phase of the competition begins next week, we’ll be able to see if Nikia Brown has begun to master the language – and whether given the scope of her talent, the audience will even care.

(Tags: Black, Jew, Israel, Entertainment)

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