Yulia Karra
April 23, 2023

When we were younger, many of us had dreams of becoming an entertainer or an artist. But we were too afraid to follow our passion because our immediate circle considered the dream impractical or unrealistic.

As a result, most people – whatever their passion – normally go on to get a job, or to study at university, focusing on “realistic” subjects far removed from art.

Well, Israeli jazz singer Leat Haber is here to tell the world that it is never too late to follow, and even live, your dreams.

“I’ve been hearing chirping about how I should grow up, and how I am living in the movie I’ve created in my head. But I don’t think that music has an age limit,” she says.

Leat Haber in the music video for her song “Before I Met You.” Photo by Elad Dadon
Leat Haber in the music video for her song “Before I Met You.” Photo by Elad Dadon

Haber was born in Hod Hasharon to a British mother and an Israeli father. The singer says music was an integral part of her upbringing, which later prompted her to enroll in the Rimon School of Music, Israel’s largest independent professional school for advanced study of various styles of music, including jazz.

She later tried pursuing a singing career full time, doubling as a waitress to support herself financially. After a few years, she began feeling she had served one too many tables. And as the story goes, she quit music and decided to get “a real job” — in Haber’s case, in Israel’s flourishing high-tech sector and later as an English teacher.

Can’t live without music

She eventually got married and had two children.

Music, however, never stopped being an important part of her life. So, as “the big 40” was approaching, Haber made the decision to give music another try.

“My children are now eight and four. I finally can sleep at night, and do things. But I can’t live without music. So I am just restarting my career right now. If being a mom is your only passion in life, there is nothing wrong with it, but that’s not me.”

Haber says her husband is very supportive and understands that if she stops chasing her dream, she will never feel whole.

“I always tell my husband, ‘I must write.’ I have to create in order to understand what I am feeling. When you write, you understand a lot about yourself — it’s therapy.”

Leat Haber in a promotional image. Photo by Atar Alikim
Leat Haber in a promotional image. Photo by Atar Alikim

The songstress says her music always reflects where she is in life at any given moment. “Obviously, the topic of never giving up is something I am writing about a lot.”

Inspired by British culture

Haber sings almost exclusively in English, inspired by her mother (“my number one fan”), who would play British music around the house when she was younger. Both her mother and grandmother were singers in their youth.

Despite being born and raised in Israel, the singer spends a lot of time in England and even speaks English with her children.

“I was very inspired by British culture, by English-language music,” she says. “London is my second home, but I would never live there full time despite having a UK passport. I am very Israeli in my nature. I wouldn’t oppose performing in England, though,” she laughs.

Before her nearly two-decade hiatus from music, Haber made a last-ditch effort to make it on the international stage. At 23, she embarked on a six-month tour of Australia with another musician friend.

“After graduating from Rimon, I was trying to get accepted into a music school in Holland. I had a terrible audition and didn’t get accepted. So, I bought an open ticket and flew to Australia, performing at bars.”

Many things at once

Her music is not what you would call “mainstream,” having a distinct ’60s feel to it.

“When I was 11, I bought five CDs of music from the’50s and’60s,” she says. “People like to categorize things, but I am not like that. One person can be many things at once.”

Leat Haber and her music band Salad Groove. Photo courtesy of Front Pictures
Leat Haber and her music band Salad Groove. Photo courtesy of Front Pictures

Haber’s songs were even featured on the soundtrack of an Emmy-winning Israeli TV show, “Nevsu,” which is streaming on Netflix. The show tells the story of a mixed family navigating life in Israel.

The singer says the most important thing for her right now is to release her first full-length album and embark on a nationwide tour with her band, Salad Groove. Surprisingly, prisons are among the places where she plans on staging a show.

“Israel has a radio station exclusively for prisons. It is operated by prisoners and it is part of their rehabilitation program. We performed there once, and I want to do it again,” she tells ISRAEL21c.

“I am up for anything. I love new experiences. That way you are never bored. It keeps you on your toes. Especially when you are no longer young.”

For more information, see Leat Haber’s Instagram page.

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Jason Harris

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