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Jewish songwriter

Capek eyes up Eurovision

"Music is my language. I speak music better than I speak English!"

Composer John Capek at work.
Composer John Capek at work.

ACCLAIMED Jewish songwriter John Capek has entered the running to represent Australia at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, with his number, We Are One, performed by Fijian-Australian singer and songwriter Paulini.

The Melbourne-raised composer has penned tracks for the likes of Rod Stewart, Cher, Diana Ross, Joe Cocker, Little River Band, Olivia Newton-John, Renee Geyer, John Farnham, Guy Pearce and many others.

Capek told The AJN, “I have a long history of writing songs for Australian artists. My co-writer, Rick Price, made the Eurovision connection on a recent visit to Sydney.”

This Saturday, Eurovision – Australia Decides 2022 will see the public voting for which of 11 artists or groups will progress to the Eurovision finals in Italy in May.

Discussing the inspiration behind his song, Capek said, “Our world has become so fragmented at this time. We wanted to write a song about our common humanity and our connection with the earth.”

Although he now lives in the US, Capek’s impressive music career began in Australia.

“Melbourne had a vibrant music scene when I was coming up. Originality and improvisation were encouraged and celebrated. There was a tremendous sense of musical freedom,” he recalled.

Capek’s parents, both Holocaust survivors, were the sole survivors of their families, interned in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz before being liberated in 1945.

Four years after the war, after living in Prague, the young family found refuge in Melbourne. They became friends with the late Rabbi Wrescner of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, who took them under his wing and helped the family establish themselves in the community.

Capek was a child prodigy and his late father, a classical pianist himself, was his first teacher.

“Music is my language. I speak music better than I speak English!” he said.

After honing his musical talent in Australia, Capek continued his illustrious career as a sought-after songwriter and producer in Los Angeles and Toronto.

He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Jewish folksinger Batsheva.

According to Capek, his Jewish upbringing had a major impact on his career as a musician.

“My inspiration was, and continues to be Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, and all the great Jewish songwriters who built that Great American Songbook,” he enthused.

“There is no question that I have been the beneficiary of the legacy of Jewish influence in popular music.”

Eurovision – Australia Decides 2022 is on SBS on Saturday, February 26 at 8.30pm.

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