Music is an endless ocean and Indian music is the vastest ocean I have ever witnessed," says Shye Ben-Tzur, the Jewish qawwali singer, who sings in Hebrew.
For him, India is a second home. He was just 19, when he first saw live performances by Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Ustad Zakir Hussain in Israel. It was then and there, that he decided to follow his heart, and headed towards India for a musical journey.
He lived here for 14 years, and learnt to play the flute under various gurus, including Chaurasia. Now, he has moved back to Israel along with his wife and daughter, but he feels his love for India will never die. "I have two houses, it is not that I have completely shifted, I have family here, my heart is here as well as in Israel," he says.
Overcoming the language barrier, the US born who was raised in Israel, dedicated his soul to music and learnt the language, but he admits learning music in India is different from the West in many ways. "It's very complicated to come and learn traditional music in India especially when you don't come from a traditional background and don't speak the language. Also, traditional music in India is taught in the traditional way. A lot of musicians come from musicians' family and they learn it as they learn Hindi. They learn it as a language from their families," he says.
So far, Ben-Tzur has come out with two albums - "Heeyam" and "Shoshan". About the Indian music scene and B-wood gaana-bajaana, he says, "The Bollywood music that you have been hearing, is changing. In the last 2-3 years, it has become much more interesting. The young generation of musicians is getting exposure to different kinds of music from all over the globe. Today elements like rock are coming in to the music, so it all is a refreshing change," he said.
And it was not just music, that Ben-Tzur found in India, a filmi love story with a happy ending was awaiting him, as he fell in love with Sajida, daughter of guru Zahurul Hassan Sharib, who taught him Urdu. "She was 16 and I had come to her house in Ajmer. I went there to meet the father who is a saint at Peer Saab, and fell in love with the daughter. We got married after 7 years of seeing each other. It has been more like a Bollywood drama with a happy ending," he said, adding, "She makes great food like rajma, kadhi, chicken tikka and malai kofta."