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Passions: Iscar next-gen Sivan Talmor talks music and singing

The Iscar next-gen on being a TV singing star in her native Israel, and releasing her first album.

Sivan Talmor’s musical career began early. “At the age of nine I told my mother that I wanted to be a singer, and she took me to the local music school. They said that I was too young, but they let me audition anyway and said that my voice was mature enough, so I got in.”

It was the start of an unusual journey for the granddaughter of the man who set up Iscar, an Israeli tool-making firm founded in 1952 which is famous as the first non-US business that Warren Buffett invested in; he bought an 80% stake in 2006 for $4 billion (€3.1 billion).

Talmor’s first break came when she joined the army for national service, and formed a band. “We were called 4x4 and we performed all over the country, playing over a thousand gigs in two years. Sometimes for big crowds, and sometimes just for a couple of guys at a check-point.” She flirted with the idea of staying in the army (“I wanted to be a helicopter pilot,” she laughs) but music won out.

After her two-year service she joined a performing arts school and recorded a song on an album by famous Israeli musicians Ilay Botner and Ran Danker. But the second big break came when she agreed to go on the Israeli version of TV talent show The Voice in 2012.

Did the show talk about the family business when they looked at her back-story? “They didn’t mention it, they were concentrated more on the fact that I was married when I was 23 and that I was from a family of seven siblings, but one of the gossip stations picked up on who my family was.”

Anonymity is part of the show, anyway. “They have their backs to you, so they don’t know anything about you, not even how you look, so they had to judge me entirely on my singing.” She made it through to the live shows, but was voted off the first one.

“It was me against an Arab girl and it became quite a political issue here in Israel.” She has no regrets about the show: “I learned an awful lot and you leave with more credibility if you go at that stage.”

Although the press picked up on her family connections, Talmor insists that her family history hasn’t helped her career. “It doesn’t matter that you’ve got money, you can’t buy an audience’s love,” she says.

Being on The Voice, however, has given her a platform and since the show she has recorded her first self-written album, which will be released in February, and managed to land herself some bigger gigs. “My grandfather came to one of my concerts and he called me the day after to say that he was pleased to see that I was working hard, which was nice,” she says.

She has no intention of working for the family business, but would perhaps one day like a role in the philanthropic foundation: “That’s business, but it’s about doing good and not making money.” To that end she has studied at Swiss school IMD.

In a fashion, though, her singing is a business in its own right. “I was saying this to my father the other day, you have to treat it like a business these days, it’s not just about the music, you have to work out ways to get as many people to hear your music as possible. You work with PRs, accountants. In a way I’m an entrepreneur too." 

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