Matisyahu shaves beard, instruments

2013-01-24T00:00:00Z Matisyahu shaves beard, instrumentsGerald M. Gay Ggay@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
January 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The music won't be the only thing that is stripped down when Matisyahu performs an acoustic set at the Rialto Theatre Wednesday.

The reggae vocalist, whose big bushy beard reflected his Hasidic faith for more than a decade, is performing clean shaven these days.

The move, and his recent relocation from the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn to Los Angeles, has indicated to many that the 33-year-old singer has transitioned away from Orthodox Judaism.

"The last decade of my life has been immersed in Judaism and Jewish culture and Jewish religion and Jewish spirituality and I really took that trip as far as I could take it," he told the Huffington Post last summer. He was a little more vague in an email interview with Caliente last week.

"I wouldn't say I've moved away from anything," he said. "I am moving closer to my inner truth and it feels great. It's like Han Solo coming out from being frozen in 'Return of the Jedi.' But Judaism is still a major part of my life."

Fans of the singer will have the chance to ask him about his faith, his shaving techniques and whatever else they are curious about at Wednesday's show.

A Q&A session will accompany an acoustic set from the artist.

The vocalist will perform some of his biggest hits, but focus primarily on tracks from his latest album, "Spark Seeker," released last summer on his own Fallen Sparks record label.

An acoustic EP featuring tracks from the album, called "Spark Seeker: Acoustic Sessions" comes out Tuesday.

The original "Spark Seeker" release, recorded in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, Israel, blends heavy doses of pop, hip hop and dancehall, with regional instrumentation.

"We began fusing two sounds," Matisyahu said. "The fresh, up, modern sound we had been recording in L.A. and an older, more ancient world music sound. Bringing together the old and new has been in some ways what my life has been about thus far."

Matisyahu gives a lot of credit to Kool Kojak, his producer whose resume includes work with Nicki Minaj, Ke$ha, Travis Barker and on Flo Rida's Billboard hit "Right Round."

The two worked on the album in Los Angeles before taking two weeks in Israel.

"It was like working with a friend you grew up with, who is super talented, supportive, fun and humble," Matisyahu said.

The collaboration resulted in an album that left the singer satisfied.

He believes it is a release that fans can get behind, whether or not they agree with recent changes in his personal life.

"Fans don't leave an artist for their ideological changes," he said. "I guess if they were fans of my religious beliefs, they might have been affected. I believe my music is as meaningful as ever."

If you go

• What: An acoustic evening with Matisyahu.

• When: 8 p.m. Wednesday.

• Where: Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St.

• Tickets: $29-$41 through the Rialto box office, 740-1000.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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