Israel Portnoy was Born is Cheshire, just outside of Manchester (UK) into a Musial family of 9 children. His parents were the Rabbincal couple of the local community of “Hale Synagogue”. From the age of 8, Israel could be heard leading the services at the synagogue and singing at wedding ceremonies. He began writing his own songs from as young as 6 years old and would record himself on cassette tapes. He initially started playing piano at around age 5 and at the age of 11 he discovered guitar after (as he puts it) his younger brother “overtook him on the piano”. At the age of 16 he moved to Israel alone initially to study in a Talmudical college and subsequently moved on to music school and cantorial schools. It was in Israel that he formed a band with his brother Mendy, aptly named “PORTNOY” (also fondly referred to as “the PORTNOY Brothers”) and they have literally travelled the world together with their music. Israel is a multi-instrumentalist as well as a Cantor and has has filled the roll as cantor in places as far and wide as New Zealand, Bratislava and Los Angeles. In May 2019, whilst living in “Moshav Mevo Modi’im”, a forest-fire wiped out his entire home and home-studio (complete with over 15 instruments and many recordings and lyrics, never to be seen or heard again).
Israel’s music style is deeply rooted in an eclectic mix of liturgical music, growing up on the bima in the synagogue and has since been influenced by everyone from the Beatles (particularly George Harrison) to Paul Simon and Eric Clapton. His writing style varies but there is an undeniable soul-drenched bluesy sound in most of what he performs. Since moving to Israel, has also enjoyed soaking up the colours of modern Israeli music. He is a versatile musician and can be seen effortlessly appropriating his repertoire to the crowds’ specific tastes.