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Three years after the global success of her single Beauty of Duty, award-winning Israeli singer-songwriter Tally Koren has launched a kickstarter campaign to fund her new single, Free Will, writes Maya Rubinstein.

Although the cruel reality of the music industry warned Tally that she was wasting her time, the 40-year-old Israeli singer-songwriter Tally Koren has never given up on her dream. Four years after recording her album 72 names “on a small budget and a lot of favours”, the determined songstress has now launched a Kickstarter campaign that aims to turn her new single into a worldwide hit.

Tally’s career hasn’t been without setbacks – in 1995, she was hugely disappointed after her entry for Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest received only seven points. Determined that life must go on, Tally moved to London, hoping that a new city would galvanise her dreams.

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Tally Koren with Shimon Peres

“People in the music industry told me that I was wasting my time and money as there was no chance that a forty something, Jewish Israeli would be played on national radio in the UK, says Tally. 

Yet in 2011, her single Beauty of Duty was added to the BBC2 playlist and received high praise from Chris Evans and Graham Norton. Tally went on to win a London Fringe award for Best Singer-Songwriter and her song was played by over 100 radio stations around the world, leading her to perform for Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Tally’s new single Free Will was inspired by the “overwhelming feeling of liberation” she got from moving to London, when “everything was in chaos”.

She hopes that the crowd-funding drive will inspire others to pursue their dreams, proving that age shouldn’t hold you back from your goals. She also hopes the campaign will reach her biggest idol, chat show host Oprah Winfrey.

Maya Rubinstein caught up with the songwriter to find out the story behind the campaign

Why have you turned to kick-starter to fund your single?

I needed more funds and it was the first time I tried asking from people – it’s a scary but wonderful thing!

What has kept you motivated in overcoming career hurdles?

To believe in yourself is something that takes time, especially when you have rejection. The breakthrough to the BBC playlist after being told an Israeli would never make it onto national radio. I didn’t listen to them. With Free Will it came to me one night. I said to myself, “the only thing that holds you back is you – okay Tally, no more!” A lot of us have a fear of success and going all the way. This song is about having the confidence to inspire.

Why did you move to London?

 I came to London to look for opportunities and pursue my dream. I was like a Cinderella figure – meeting a big record company with my demo and being told that the boss did not like my unique sound or Israeli accent. My journey was meant to be much longer and deeper than I planned. As much as I’m Israeli, I’m also international and I’m not just a typical Sabra anymore!

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Tally in her modelling and IDF days

You did a BA in Jewish studies at Leo Baeck College. How has your Jewish faith has influenced you as an artist?

I was very privileged to be studying with lot of amazing people, rabbis from Reform and Liberal Judaism. When I was a bit bored in classes, I used to sit and write my lyrics! There are a lot of biblical influences in my music. I now understand the texts on a deeper level rather than just the academic.

How would you describe your sound to people that have not yet heard it?

Pop with edge! Eclectic sounds that come from my roots, with influences of percussion, classical music, acoustic and electro. Its still commercial but versatile and spiritual.

Who has influenced you musically?

People have compared me to Moby and Goldfrapp, which is more the electro side. Really I am a singer-songwriter and in that sense my low breathy voice has similarities to Dido, Lana del Rey and Katie Melua. Marvin Gay is said to have never listened to music and I am very much one of those people – I do like particular singers but I am in my own world!

Why is Oprah Winfrey your ultimate idol?

She is the icon of motivation. She encourages and inspires people to change their lives. This Free Will project is exactly about how every moment has the opportunity to change your life – It could be about diet, going to the gym or being more caring.

What do you hope to achieve if this campaign succeeds?

The success of my song will give me ability to do much more charity work. In the past I had involvement in Music and Peace in the Middle East but it didn’t get coverage because of a lack of budget. With extra funding I want to go bigger, using the power that fame brings to change the world.

What do you have in store for the year ahead?

My main goal is to make  a hit – I’m doing it in Spanish, English and Hebrew and I’ve been offered translations in French and Italian as well. I hope this year will be the most exciting of my life!