Coral Bismuth, the Tel Aviv beach musician discovered by Maroon 5


Marion Fischel | Israel21c via JNS

When Maroon 5 performed in Israel in May, lead vocalist Adam Levine brought an unknown artist up on stage to sing the band’s hit “Sunday Mornings” with him at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park to an audience of 70,000. He introduced her as “that street musician who did not know that I would come knocking at her door and have her come play with us.”

Coral Bismuth performing on the beach in Tel Aviv. (Manu Greenspan)

Levine described how Coral Bismuth’s voice came wafting up to his hotel balcony overlooking Frishman Beach in the city of Tel Aviv. On the street below, Bismuth had been performing covers, as she has done on Saturdays for the past four years. Her repertoire ranges from folk to R&B and soul.

Levine recalled that she “played for hours, and I couldn’t get enough … such a soulful, beautiful voice. And then she started playing one of our songs, ‘Sunday Morning,’ and she killed that. So I asked her to come perform.”

“He videoed me and put it up on his Instagram story,” chimed in Bismuth. “He invited me by Instagram to appear with him that evening [at the Maroon 5 concert].”

Finding herself on stage, she said, “there are really no words to describe that moment. It was like cutting through boundaries.” She belted out solo the first few verses of “Sunday Morning” as Levine gave her the spotlight before joining in.

“I felt that many people were inspired by my story,” said Bismuth. “It touched them that if you believe with all your heart, with love, and you make your efforts, in the end the universe pays attention to you. Something happens. Some call it a quantum leap. For me, it was a dream come true. The winds enjoyed my prayers.”

Bismuth’s first public appearance was at age 16 on the Israeli reality show “The Voice.” She hadn’t dreamed of becoming a musician until a year earlier.

It all started because there was a classical guitar at home. One day she picked it up and started playing.

“From the very first moment I began to strum, I thought, ‘I’ve got this.’ There was an ease in learning how to play.” Her major influences include the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Lynch, Lianne La Havas, John Mayer and Beyoncé.

Her father incentivized her to keep practicing by promising to get her the black acoustic guitar she had her eye on.

She never studied music officially, except for private guitar and voice lessons. She said the singing came after the guitar.

“My attitude is that I learn what I need to know, but not in an institutionalized manner. I tend to learn on a need-to-know basis. That is also how I learned to write music. I always feel I am at the school of my life,” explained Bismuth. “I was in love with playing, and then I began to accompany myself with song in order to hear the music.”

She uploaded videos of herself to YouTube and was discovered by the producers of “The Voice.”

Bismuth released her first album within two years of her performance on “The Voice,” at age 18, with her parents’ help.

At 21, she moved to Tel Aviv to develop musically. But within two months, a spontaneous invitation led to her accompany a Canadian musician friend on the streets of Italy.

“I discovered street musicians’ performances for the first time! I experienced the magic,” she beamed.

Europe was a turning point. At first, Bismuth worked assisting her friend, but at a certain point, she said, I finally “got it.”

“I understood that I could leave my home, simply go out into the street and just do what I do at home anyway, which is to play and sing—and actually make money from it—and connect to people and create a sort of wheel of energy in the street,” she said. “It really touched me and moved me, and I felt that in a way I had been able to exit the matrix. I didn’t have to work as a waitress or anything like that anymore. I simply made music.”

After six months, Bismuth came back to Israel “full of this energy, ready to spread it.”

Four years later, she gives hours-long street performances three times a week across the entire country—“from Eilat to Tzfat.” She encourages other would-be street musicians to “go and play.”

That “unforgettable night—one of a kind” back in May on stage with Maroon 5, Bismuth felt as if everything she had ever done until that moment, “all those hours in the street,” were the path to finding herself performing in front of 70,000 people.

“And the really cool part,” she said, was that “I was about to release an album and needed to publicize it. It’s as if the universe heard that I needed people to know that I had an album coming out and gave me a platform of 70,000!”

This article was first published by Israel21c.

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