Neal Katz has been making Jewish and folk music for over twenty years. Originally from Virginia Beach, VA, Neal grew up in the youth groups and summer camps of the Reform Movement and has song-led for three summers in Israel working with teen Israel trips. Also, he has led music for numerous youth group conclaves and congregational services, b'nai mitzvah, Sunday School programs, and retreats around the East Coast, Midwest, and the South. In addition to three summers as the student rabbi and song-leader at Camp Ben Frankel in Carbondale, IL, Neal song-led for a Progressive Jewish Summer camp in the Former Soviet Union in the summer of 1999.
His debut album “Who Am I?” was released in 2002 with great success. From that CD, the song “Or Chadash” was included on the NFTY 2005 Ruach CD and it appeared in the Manginot 2 songbook. Neal’s “Oseh Shalom” was included in the Shabbat Anthology 3 CD and book. In addition, many of Neal’s songs have been incorporated into the music lists at Jewish camps, congregations, and youth groups.
His second album of Jewish music was titled “Strength in Numbers” and was released in Fall 2006. Neal was honored to work with famed producer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Nelson on this incredible follow-up CD. “Strength in Numbers” includes the voices of fellow Jewish musicians including Rick Recht, Robbi Sherwin, Stacy Beyer, Jon Nelson, and Jenny Parks.
As a folk musician, Neal is an emerging artist on the folk music scene. After years of writing folk music and playing it for friends and open-mics, Neal has begun performing his music at coffee-houses, folk festivals, living room concerts, and more. On stage, he is high energy and offers touching and funny introductions to his songs. His music is uplifting, beautiful, and funny.
Over the past few years, Neal has been an opening act for Billy Jonas, Buddy Mondlock, Tom Kimmel, Nick Annis, and Albert and Gage - as they all passed through East Texas. He was also a regular at the Up-A-Creek Coffee House and performed at the Mud Creek Music Festival. Neal has also played at coffeehouses in other parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Virginia.
In 2009, Neal released "Day Will Come," his debut folk CD filled with 13 original songs. The project was produced by famed singer/songwriter/producer Tom Prasada Rao. A number of other artists contributed to the project including Gordon McLeod, Dave Massengill, Dirje Smith, Martin McCall, Cary Cooper, Phil Rumbley, and Milo Deering.
In his quest to promote his fellow local artists, Neal produced a compilation CD in 2007 of East Texas singer/songwriters that benefitted a social-service agency in Tyler, TX called PATH. He produced a follow-up CD for PATH of East Texas jazz ensembles, called PATH Notes.
His most recent project is "Chanukah Songs For Grown-ups," a collection of traditional Chanukah songs mixed in with some new melodies by Neal, including the hit song, "On The Air." "Chanukah Songs For Grown-ups" was released in November of 2009 and was also produced by Tom Prasada Rao. Other musicians on the project include Sonia Rutstein, Billy Jonas, Cary Cooper, Stacy Beyer, Michael Grinnell , Adam Myers, Griffin Goodman, and Dirje Smith.
In 2010, Neal was chosen as a finalist for the Kerrville Folk Festival's New Folk Concerts.
In addition, his song "Be A Light" was a finalist in the 2010 Expose Yourself Song Contest by ReviewPosse.com
In 2012, Neal was the executive producer for the amazing debut release "Thoughtless Sounds" by up-and-coming artist Max Jared. The CD will be available in the spring of 2012. Check out Max's work at http://www.maxjaredmusic.com/
Neal is the rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Tyler, TX. With his wife, Jennifer, they have a son, Micah and two daughters, Lila and Rebecca.