Jewish musician joins the King’s concert lineup

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Jewish musician joins the King’s concert lineup

A surprise last minute invitation to perform for our Monarch will be a fan boost for Zak Abel

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

With only two days notice to practice, Jewish singer Zak Abel was invited to join the lineup for the Coronation Concert on Sunday.

Zak, born Zak David Zilesnick  and raised in Hendon, was contacted on Friday when singer Freya Ridings  pulled out of the concert due to poor health.

Now Zak Abel will perform at the historic event in Windsor for King Charles III alongside Take That, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie and Zak’s family in Israel  will also be watching and cheering.

“We certainly will,” said cousin Alison Zilesnick Levi who lives in Eilat. “We watched the coronation, but there was huge excitement when we were told that Zak will be in the concert. He has been  given four tickets, so his mother Rachel will be there to proudly support him.”

Zak’s musical career began  when he wrote his first track, Haze, aged 14,  but singing and songwriting was not his only talent as he was hooked on ping pong and rather good at it.  Starting at the age of nine, by the time he was 11, he was  ranked No 1 in England in his age group and competed abroad, eventually winning the 2009 cadet boys’ national championships.

Moving schools twice for table tennis, at Hennebont in Brittany,he practised five hours a day, six days a week, but he kept writing songs and posting covers on YouTube.

“They got noticed by other Jewish kids in northwest London,” he told The Times last week.  “Then someone knew someone who knew someone who knew a manager and they got in touch.”

Zak moved back to London for sixth form, but by the time he had done his exams,  he’d been offered a record deal by Atlantic, the label of Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars. By 2014 he was featured on the Top 20 single Unmissable by the electronic duo Gorgon City, who he got to tour with, then other hits followed including his first record, Only When We’re Naked, which was released in 2017. Writing songs for John Legend and Zayn Malik was added to his credits, but at 21, Zak realised he was going deaf in his right ear and was diagnosed with otosclerosis (abnormal bone growth).

This was devastating for the young singer-songwriter with hundreds of millions of streams as he had left school without qualifications due to a bout of glandular fever disrupting his studies.

In his talk with the Times Zak described this time as his lowest, despite having had an operation on his right ear to help his condition.”It took six months for me to hear pitch. You can imagine the pressure I was putting on myself, the pressure from management, from the record label and I had tinnitus 24/7 after my operation.”

Depression and anxiety lead Zak to  collaborating with Calm, the mental health charity and though his hearing in his right ear still isn’t the same and is going in his left ear too, he refuses to let it disrupt his music. “There are loads of people who deal with different illnesses. Like, my mum who has got multiple sclerosis and she just powers through.”

Recently engaged to his girlfriend of ten years, Zak has just released a single, Dance with You  from his forthcoming second album with new label BMG. This autumn he’s going on his biggest ever tour to 23 cities in Europe, including two in Germany where he has a big fanbase.

After his performance at the Coronation Concert on Sunday, in which he  will be doing a duet with British classical-soul pioneer, Alexis Ffrench, that fanbase will undoubtedly grow.

Watch Zak Abel – Dance With You (The Comeback) (Official Video)  ahead of his Coronation Concert performance.


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