Tally Koren: What being a free woman means to me
PHOTOGRAPHY: RUPERT TRUMAN
RETOUCHING: NORA DE ANGELLI
TALLEY KOREN was born in Israel and began a long career as a model in her home town Haifa, later she moved and worked in Tel Aviv, New York City and Mexico City. She returned to Israel to serve in the Israeli Army, which is obligatory and it was during this time that she won the “Miss Water” beauty competition.
Tally decided to pursue her dream to become a singer at a later age of 23 and only after she discovered the gift of composing and writing songs. During the late 1990s, she moved to London and besides doing music she worked as a journalist, writing for Israeli magazines about holistic life and places to visit in the UK. Tally completed a BA in Jewish Studies and Theology at the Leo Baeck College. She became a Reiki Master and trained in Mystic Therapy, a spiritual form of healing.
You have just released a new song called “Free Will” – what is this song about?
When I wrote the song in one take on Christmas Eve a few years ago, I didn’t understand fully what its meaning was but the song has now become the motto of my life – turning minus into plus, awareness and transformation. In every breath, we have the choice of how to behave, if it be positive or negative, to love or to hate, or even in practical things in life like, choosing to eat either chocolate or an apple, to go to the gym or watch TV etc.
The main message of the song is that even when we have harder challenges, we have the freedom to choose how we react to them. Viktor E. Frankl wrote a nice quote about this:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Secondly the message of the song is about learning to let go of the outcome, surrender.
How free is the spirit within you?
I am quite a free person, I say and express how I feel with people with ease. I learn to accept some of the imperfections in me, it makes it easy, and to listen to my own intuition. Constantly walking in the streets letting the songs come through me, seeing the light in every situation and projecting it into the world as my surname Koren in Hebrew means – radiant. I hope soon to free the body more by going back to dance and to do more yoga.
How did you win your freedom? Have you always been a free woman?
In my essence I was a free spirit like all of us but it was a very long journey to gain it back, as at the start I wanted to satisfy more my parents and society than myself. I got married to a very wealthy husband, travelled the world and lived a celebrity life.
It didn’t take a long time for me to realise that living in a golden cage, a life without fulfillment is not for me. One weekend we invited to our hotel in Tiberius many famous people to a party. I was all glamourised and smiley to the guests but after a few hours I didn’t feel that I belonged there and went to be by myself in the room and wrote my feelings. The next morning, when I read what I wrote using such a strong term such as – an internal holocaust, I knew I had to be brave and leave. Since then I started the journey and gained inner freedom that nothing can replace it.
My surname ‘Koren’ in Hebrew means – radiant. I hope soon to free the body more by going back to dance and to do more yoga.
What is freedom for a woman according to you?
Freedom is to feel good about who you are with and no relation to outside facts like material status, diplomas, job title, or how successful you are, just feel happy and free of who you are in your essence. So many women used to do things they loved and have a passion for life before getting married and having children but the challenge is not to lose that spark.
…I ended up running from one thing to another, being the faster runner in school, fastest swimmer, ballerina, painter and, of course, singing in every opportunity.
How do you remember your childhood?
Childhood wasn’t an easy period in my life as I was quite a different child with so much energy and the need to be expressed and my parents just didn’t have the tools or the knowledge to understand me or direct me to the right place. I ended up running from one thing to another, being the faster runner in school, fastest swimmer, ballerina, painter and, of course, singing in every opportunity.
It would have been so much easier to focus all the energies into one thing and become a world champion, like so many of the biggest achievers in the world that had their parents behind them giving them all the support they need. But who says that easy is better, my life became about putting all the pieces together and gluing the puzzle. It gave me purpose and an inner strength with compassion to understand all different kinds of people.
Can you share with us the experience when you got married?
A few years ago I wrote words on the top of the melody of Swan Lake “When, when I look at you, I know, I know that you are my only one” it was like a prophecy.
I invited my husband to a party after the third time that we met. Tension was in the air and I knew I had to do something about it. Being the free spirit that I am, I just asked him at some point in the party, don’t you think that there is something going on between us? And he replied, “Yes, I found the one”. Then I replied, I found the one too. I told him that we needed to be brave and we shook hands. We got married three months later, soul mates that finally found one each other.
‘One song to inspire millions’, inviting people to share with us what have they done or planning to do with their Free Will to change their life and by sharing it to inspiring others.
How did the passion for the song come about?
I woke up one night and asked myself, how come if through the years since I wrote ‘Free Will’ so many people wanted to sign or suggested that the song has got potential to become a hit, what holds me back? I realised that it’s so easy to fall into the trap and sabotage ourselves and that’s what I did for years. The fact that people loved it was easy and nice for the ego but I knew inside that there is a place of fear that I needed to go through and decided to make it happen.
I started with doing a crowd-funding campaign which by itself was a challenge to ask people for money, but I loved every moment of it, as I let the more assertive part of me that was a bit shy gain power. I also loved to see how much support there is out there if we ask. I decided to make the campaign unique and to put all the aspects of me together and title it – ‘One song to inspire millions’, inviting people to share with us what have they done or planning to do with their Free Will to change their life and by sharing it to inspiring others.
Who has supported you to fulfill your dreams?
In Israel I didn’t have much support at the beginning from my family, they couldn’t understand how could I leave such a rich life and choose to do something so unsafe like a music career. I had also the ‘blessings’ from my father, saying “Why do you want to be a singer, if you can’t sing like Celine Dion?” I don’t blame him as my voice had a unique tone which is not the X Factor formula and he just wanted to protect me. I went to acting classes to gain confidence in front of the camera with a well known teacher Ruth Deiches and she became my best friend who supported me and introduced me to the world of spirituality, which was the main thing that kept me going.
The two main things that stopped me were not being clear to focus on the music direction and confusing people all the time of who I am …secondly. striving for too much perfection.
In the last six years I have been very lucky to get support from my husband Simon Edwards, who is a personal behaviour strategist who works in Harley Street with successful people in business, media and also football. He helped me to release my natural talent, see things in a different way and learn to listen and focus my energies.
What has stopped you from achieving this dream earlier?
The two main things that stopped me were not being clear to focus on the music direction and confusing people all the time of who I am. Secondly. striving for too much perfection, always waiting for the perfect moment, to be perfect in photos, videos etc. On one level it is a very good thing as I get good results but sometimes when it’s too much it stops the flow. I didn’t release at least two albums with great songs because of that perfection syndrome.
What made you decide to come to London?
I had a neighbour in Tel Aviv that had the gift to read auras. One day he told me that going to London for six months could change my life. I listened to him and came with one suitcase to London and a few chapters of the book ‘Course of miracles’ in my bag. I had a miracle after a miracle, but the one that made me stay was, an English lady that started talking to me on the train, which is very rare for an English person. She overheard my conversation with a friend and that I am a singer songwriter and introduced herself as a songwriter too. I asked her, did you read “Celestine Prophecy”, she said yes and gave me her number as I had to get off at the station. I came to visit her and she hosted me for three months, which was a very welcoming start.
How do you remember the first year in London?
It was a very hard year, the loneliness, being worried about the visa, not understanding yet the mentality of the English people and the worst was getting used to the grey weather. I promised myself to boost my soul with holistic treatments and to be involved with spiritual activities to not to let the spark to fade away.
How much have you changed since that time?
I can say that I am the new person I always wanted to be who is free and confident. Living in the UK over ten years changes you and you can never be the same person as when you left your country. Yet deep inside it’s my essence and I do miss some part of it very much. I sing in my shows in Hebrew too and then always
I listened to the words of my song “The only thing that holds you back is you” …after that my song went straight onto the BBC Radio 2 playlist.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a migrant woman?
When a top radio plugger told me after hearing my music that there was no way that an Israeli, Jewish and over 40, will be played on national radio. He advised me not to waste my money. The challenge was whether to listen to him and give up on the big dream or ignore him and go for it. I listened to the words of my song “The only thing that holds you back is you” and went to a different promoter. After that my song went straight onto the BBC Radio 2 playlist.
Also as a successful voice-over actress in Hebrew I am the voice of Fisher Price toys, DHL and many more big brands. All the UK agents like me very much, but they won’t give me any job or audition in English, although I have asked many times, besides the glorious moment I had when speaking English with a foreign accent was needed for a James Bond film and I was selected.
How much do you feel connected with your hometown?
I moved from my own town Haifa to Tel Aviv when I was young so lost the connection a long time ago, but through Facebook I got in touch with friends from school and it’s really nice as they always remember me singing in parties and dreaming to be a singer.
What is the biggest dream you have achieved so far?
There are a few including being on the BBC Radio 2 playlist, winning the Fringe Award for best singer-songwriter and singing in front of the former Israeli president Shimon Peres but more recently when I sung ‘Free Will’ at the Houses of Parliament I felt deeply very proud inside.
How do you see yourself in ten years time?
I would like to use my wisdom and status to contribute to the world, I admire women like Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey who are a big inspiration for me. I’d like to have my own brand that relates to beauty, health and inner growth. I would love to build a big home studio and make many albums, but also writing songs for famous singers. And to create a strong rooted family for myself.