Shaindel Antelis is a strong young woman. Strong feelings, strong voice, strong in searching and expressing her faith.
Light shines. From her expressive soul. From the 5,500 shiny rhinestones hand pasted on her unique guitar, to her shiny sequin-studded clothes, to her shining face as she performs, spreading energy, hope, connection and fun.
Shaindel has carved out a unique path and message, though the resources were always at hand. She grew up in a home filled with music and performance. As a young girl she would wander into her father’s sound studio, put on the headphones, pick up the mike and sing her heart out.
Shaindel has carved out a unique path and message“Even though I’d been singing for many years, I wrote my first real song, with a theme, chorus and all, at the age of ten,” she recalls. “I always wrote poetry. This really helped me get through junior high and high school, through all the teenage ups and downs, insecurities, troubles with friends, which are so painful when you’re going through them.”
Shaindel’s rhythmic music appeals to women of all ages. But Shaindel has a special gift in her has resonance with teenage girls. “I really write and sing especially for them. I know that many teens think—everyone else is perfect, while my life doesn’t make sense. I want them to know that, no, you’re not alone. My songs are very personal. I share my struggles and feelings, so that teenagers (and women) can have kosher music that they can relate to while they work through these emotions, and they don’t have to turn to more secular music for connection and entertainment that speaks to them.”
She knows firsthand about the struggle to find one’s own voice and identity. “I cried so much as a teen, trying to find my place as a funky but also very Jewish teen.” Writing songs and poems helped her express and work through her feelings, and she started to realize her work could speak to others as well.
Things finally started to come together for Shaindel when she went to Israel to study after high school. “In Israel I felt so connected to G‑d and Torah. I experienced amazing divine providence. The learning, the atmosphere—it made Torah come alive for me. Teachers welcomed all my questions and exploring. I have to know the reasons for me to feel connected. Torah has to have deep meaning for me.”
Her songwriting exploded, as she kept a diary of thoughts, poems and songs based on her impressions and experiences in Israel. Shaindel decided and affirmed that singing and sharing was her path, her special way of expressing her Jewishness. “I feel most connected to Torah when I’m thinking, writing and singing. That’s what it's all about—elevating the physical and putting a real piece of yourself out there in the world.”
After releasing her first album, Heart and Soul, Shaindel returned to Israel. She toured around the country, sharing her songs and experiences. The Torah and the people of Israel once again filled Shaindel with inspiration. She wrote enough songs for another, more mature album, Change, which the family produced when Shaindel returned home. Shaindel’s father Moshe Antelis played bass and guitar, and arranged the album. Her brother Ben played the drums, while her brother Jake handled the mixing and production, and also played drums.
Shaindel developed a music video to accompany the title song, “Change.” My first thought when opening the video was, “Wow, I must show this to my fifteen year-old daughter.” The video opens with Shaindel sulking. She’s an oh-so-distraught teen, full of intense emotion, about to give up, with that “absolutely no one understands me” expression that we all remember from those volatile years. Shaindel slides down to the floor, exasperated and alone. First she pouts with some anger, but through her frustration, she cries to G‑d. Slowly but surely, her mood lifts. She strums her guitar, she cries, she sings, as the tempo and mood pick up she moves into a space open to positive change. (“Change” can be viewed at shaindelantelis.com.)
Like most of her songs, “Change” incorporates the different aspects of Shaindel’s melodic voice. She has a strong country-pop style, with a lovely range from low and expressive to freely soaring soprano highs. She combines real pensive feelings, in a slightly minor key, with her primarily strong, positive, energetic and upbeat tone.
She has a strong country-pop style, with a lovely range from low and expressive to freely soaring soprano highsWhile much popular Jewish music has Hebrew lyrics, Shaindel purposely chooses to sing in mostly English. “I want to write and sing about my real life, so I write in my native language, so that everyone can understand. I try to be positive, and convey the message that G‑d is really there and always listening. My music is for all women, Jewish or not, whoever and wherever they are.”
Shaindel’s goal is to entertain and uplift women. “I want women to feel uplifted and feel how special and worthwhile they are. Even though I’m not at all perfect, I love to sing and connect. I think we Jewish women need to stand together and support each other . . . then we can get through anything!”
Spreading her special light and positive energy is keeping this dynamo busy. Shaindel performs for schools, camps, Chabad Houses and all kinds of get-togethers. She hopes to continue to develop new CDs and shows, with her rich repertoire of songs including numbers on mothers, blessings, self-esteem and happiness. Her honesty, love of life and Jewishness make this talented young woman a pleasure to hear.