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Endnote: A Kindness Along the Way

Riki Goldstein

Sometimes it’s the unsung, uncelebrated deeds that boost a singer into the limelight. Who helped these popular entertainers find their way?

Wednesday, August 02, 2017




Shmueli Ungar 

“If I had to point to one person, it would be my zeide z”l — Reb Yumi Ungar — originally of Brooklyn and later of Monroe, who was recently niftar. He was a huge figure in my life, especially since I was orphaned of my father at age 14. He was the sweetest man, yet he loved us with a tougher style of love than you usually see today. 

“I was a musical kid, but I never sang in public. When I was 17, my sister got engaged, and Zeidy informed me that he wanted me to sing at the wedding. ‘No way,’ I said. He insisted. Eventually I said, ‘I’ll do it, but only if I can do it properly. I’ll need voice lessons.’ So Zeidy paid $100 a week for my voice lessons and I learned how to use my voice. I sang, and I guess people liked it.

“When my friend booked me for my next wedding, Zeidy bought me my first microphone. More bookings came in, but I didn’t drive then, so Zeidy drove me to each chasunah. When he printed my first batch of business cards, they had two contact numbers: mine, and Zeidy’s.”

Benny Friedman

  “When I wanted to start out, I spoke it over with my uncle, superstar Avraham Fried. Uncle Avremel promptly called Izzy Taubenfeld, CEO of Sameach music, and gave me a great introduction. He told Izzy that his nephew was worth looking into, and Izzy was the one who invested in me, paid for and produced my first album. That was huge.

“Then, in 2013, when HASC was producing the ‘A Time for Duets’ concert, they gave my uncle a list of suggested singers for him to do a duet with. Avremel looked through it and said, ‘I’ve sung duets with all of these before. Why don’t we do something new and fresh?’ and he suggested that he sing with a new name, his lesser-known nephew Benny. They agreed. The duet included my song ‘Taamu U’re’u Ki Tov,’ which became very popular. My uncle had moved me up to the next level.”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 671)





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