One of Israel's biggest stars, Ninet Tayeb is a vocalist, musician, songwriter, and actress who emerged from television pop stardom and transformed herself into an internationally respected multidisciplinary artist. Tayeb was born on October 21, 1983 in Kiryat Gat, Israel. As a child, she had a taste for classic and alternative rock, and her parents encouraged her to pursue her love of music. Tayeb was well known in her home town for her local performances and became a contestant on Kokhav Nolad, an Israeli music competition show similar to American Idol, in 2003. Tayeb was the first-place winner on the show's debut season, and became a nationwide sensation overnight. In 2006, she released her first full-length album, Barefoot, which reached platinum sales figures on its first day of release. Tayeb was also cast in Hashir Shelanu, a television series based on her rise to fame that ran for four seasons.
While Tayeb had become a star in her homeland, she was frustrated with the breezy pop tunes that dominated her repertoire. Her second album, 2009's Communicative, was a more ambitious effort that found her embracing more mature themes and less outwardly commercial musical frameworks, as well as writing more of her own material. Communicative was wildly controversial on first release, and despite enthusiastic reviews, many fans were put off by Tayeb's new creative direction. However, her career as an actress was on the upswing at the same time. In 2009, she starred in Kirot, an internationally successful thriller released in English-speaking territories as The Assassin Next Door. Tayeb was praised for her work in the film, and in 2010 she starred in an Israeli production of the stage musical Spring Awakening that earned her a Best Actress nomination at the Israeli Theatre Awards.
Tayeb's success as an actress helped her find a more receptive audience for her new music, and her 2012 album, Sympathetic Nervous System, was an English-language album for which she composed all-original material. It was recorded at the Motor Museum Studios in Liverpool and produced by Mike Crossey. The album proved a critical and commercial success. Tayeb was named Israel's Favorite Performer at the MTV Europe Music Awards and a featured guest at the Jesus and Mary Chain's Tel Aviv concert. Tayeb quickly followed it with 2013's All the Animals Knew, a Hebrew-language effort that featured two collaborations with poet Dori Manor. Tayeb began a collaboration with Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, which resulted in 2015's acclaimed concept recording Hand. Cannot. Erase. After releasing her own emotionally charged single "What Happened" that summer, she performed "Shir La’Shalom" at a memorial event commemorating the 20th anniversary of former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. She sang the song on the same spot he did before he was shot. The lyric sheet, tucked into his breast pocket, was pierced by the bullet. Tayeb's performance was deemed powerful and inspiring. She also toured the United States for the first time that year, and performed with Wilson at the Royal Albert Hall in November. In January 2016, she released a "Child" b/w "Paper Parachute" on the internet, a double A-side single. While touring with Wilson in the U.S., she had to take over the lead vocal slot for an entire show in New York when the guitarist lost his voice. Though she had only half-an-hour to prepare, her performance drew raves from critics and set the stage for her barnstorming solo showcase at the South by Southwest Music Conference later that month. A second pre-release single and video entitled "Superstar" was produced by Joseph E-Shine. ~ Mark Deming