Best Album: Taamu – Benny Friedman. Undisputed, the best and most original album easily in the last 5 years or so. Add to that his amazing vocals and the production, its no question that Benny will be a BIG contender in JM in the years to come.
Best Song: V’hi Sheamda – Yaakov Shwekey. This song has made waves in the short time that it was released. Yonatan’s composition is so honest and soul stirring that one can’t help but LOVE this song, no matter who is singing it . :)
Best Debut Album: Benny Friedman – Taamu. Not much more I can say. This is the kind of thing where everyone will be saying the same thing, because we all know this album ROCKED!
Best Arrangement: Kulam Ahuvim (Mordechai Ben David) – Mona Rosenblum. Mona is just the undisputed master arranger. He took a pretty basic melody and added all these elements that just blended and gave the song so much more flavor.
Boys Choir Album: Miami Boys Choir – Yovo. I happen to be a fan of the other groups in this category. In all honesty I have to give it up to Yerachmiel for a really great comeback. The material is all great, the songs are all singable and the production is what we’ve come to expect from him over the years.
Best English Song: Sunshine in the Rain – Shloime Kaufman. Hands down. Writing and singing a GOOD english song is extremely hard. The lyrics on this song aren’t cheesy or weak. Add to that the amazing message of the song and the vocals, its English song Gan Eden. (This response is for both the a capella and all star cast versions.)
Best Yiddish Song: Mein Kind, Tref Mich – Michoel Schnitzler. Michoel is the king of the Yiddish language (after Lipa). The arrangements and setup of this song was so interesting. Having Rivi Schwebel starting the song with a chasidisshe accent and going into the track it just gets you going. Yet again you have a great message in a song that people can relate to. The music and Michoel’s vocals just tie it up into one neat beautiful package.
Best Concert DVD: Avraham Fried Live in Israel. I was honestly going to say Kumzing. I think what they did was a great idea and people loved it. In my eyes Avremel will always be number one. His DVD was flawless. Oldies and newbies together, Dudu Fisher doing a duet and Avremel going at it on the bongos, this has it all. The choir and orchestra blew me away and the editing was really nice. Some of the other products that came out this year, the editing just wasn’t up to par and barely had any bonus content. If customers will be paying $25 plus for a DVD we want more! :)