The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - IN­TER­VIEWS

GROW­ING UP with­out a fa­ther wasn’t easy for 20year-old Zak Abel, singer song­writer and for­mer UK ta­ble-ten­nis cham­pion. With no fa­ther to act as role model, Abel turned to his coach, Eli Baraty, who in­spired him to be­come the UK na­tional ta­ble ten­nis cham­pion be­tween the ages of 12 and 16. Baraty even con­tin­ued to sup­port his young pro­tégé when he gave up the sport to sign a record deal aged just 17.

“Eli be­came the role model I needed” says the for­mer Univer­sity Col­lege School pupil whose fa­ther passed away when he was 12.

The singer, who also at­tended the Jewish state school Matilda Marks, adds: “My dad was born in Morocco but moved to Is­rael, and I didn’t re­ally get to know him.

“He died when I was so young. But I had other pos­i­tive male role mod­els and Eli was one of them.

“I’m sure not hav­ing my dad around has af­fected my life com­pletely; as you grow older you learn from the peo­ple around you, and I didn’t have a dad grow­ing up.”

Abel met Baraty at his lo­cal Mac­cabi cen­tre. “It was be­cause of him I got into ten­nis and he has been around for me since,” he ex­plains.

The pair’s re­la­tion­ship is so im­por­tant that it is on show in Abel’s lat­est video, for his sin­gle ‘Ev­ery­body Needs Love’. There the duo show off their ta­ble ten­nis skills.

The 20 year old says: “We filmed it all in one take. It’s ba­si­cally me play­ing ta­ble ten­nis and singing at the cam­era.

“The song is about feel­ing dis­con­nected with peo­ple and be­ing numb and wrapped up in the hus­tle and bus­tle of life. Life isn’t just happy all the time or sad all the time and I want to talk about the wide spec­trum of emo­tions in my mu­sic.”

But al­though he loves mu­sic, Abel, who grew up in Hen­don with his mother Rachel, says he didn’t ever imag­ine he would sign a record deal.

“I found some man­age­ment through a fam­ily friend and started do­ing some song writ­ing ses­sions with dif­fer­ent peo­ple. One of the peo­ple who I wrote with was pub­lished by some­one at At­lantic

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