The most popular Israeli on Facebook is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has nearly half a million “likes.” But the runner-up is not Israeli President Shimon Peres, though Peres’s recent social media campaign to promote global peace did win broad acclaim and even prestigious awards. And it’s not supermodel Bar Refaeli, who in 2009 was the cover girl on Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue and in 2011 was dubbed by Maxim magazine to be the most beautiful woman in the world.
Instead it’s 29-year old drummer Meytal Cohen. She was born in Ramat Gan and currently lives in Los Angeles. Her Facebook page is here.
Cohen’s page has more than 370,000 “likes,” more than double the number garnered by Peres or Refaeli. She adds about 1,000 new likes every day. Her YouTube channel – which has its own 330,000 subscribers and no fewer than 65 million views – showcases covers of heavy-metal tracks, performed with skill and evident relish.
Performing other people’s music, however, isn’t enough for this ambitious percussionist. She is about to release her first original album, and is harnessing the Internet to pay for it. She’s set up a Kickstarter page for the album, and the pitch is embedded below. Cohen hopes to raise $60,000, and with 29 days to go she’s already at $35,873.
“I hope to be able to produce a full album, and I need your help,” she says in the clip.
Cohen is the youngest of seven children. She raised in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, to Iraqi-born parents, and started drumming in grade school. After completing her army service at 21, she relocated to Los Angeles to attend a music academy. A serious car accident that saw her break three vertebra delayed that dream, and she returned to Israel for six months of physiotherapy.
She then returned to L.A. to finish her studies and jumpstart her career.
Legends like Mike Portnoy, the drummer of Dream Theater, have already recognized Cohen as an “incredible talent.” Nonetheless drumming – let alone heavy metal drumming – has and continues to be traditionally dominated by men. In a profile on Cohen, Hebrew-language Yedioth Ahronoth quoted her about how she navigates those difficulties:
“These songs are considered very difficult for drummers, and many people think only big, strong men can play them. … People are surprised to see a woman doing it. But I don’t take myself that seriously – I smile to the camera. You can see I’m enjoying myself… Soon I’ll be 30 and this is my chance. People are waiting to see that I’m not a gimmick, but am able to record original music.”