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Ofra Haza
Ofra Haza Greatest Hits

Ofra Haza Greatest Hits

By Ian White
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3 CD Set Stock Number: Hed Arzi Music 64027

  Most people remember where they were or what they were doing when the news broke about the murder of John Lennon. I was ten years old at the time and sitting at my Bubie's kitchen table trying to finish one of her twenty-pound matzo balls. My Mother and Aunt, both rather tough women (one prosecuted child abusers and molesters and the other took them out of broken homes), both looked at one another as the breaking news was announced over the radio, and began to sob and heave as if one of their own had been killed. Needless to say, I was somewhat confused (as any ten year-old would be) by the reaction of the women closest to me and I wandered downstairs into the basement where my Zaida, a magician with a sewing machine was working and listening to some Israeli woman sing on a record that he had received from relatives in Israel.

While fluent in Yididsh and Polish, my Zaida never spoke a single word of Hebrew so I was slightly perplexed as to how he understood the lyrics. Having attended Hebrew school since the age of five, I was able to understand more of what the lady was singing about than he was, and I took my best shot at explaining the words to him. It took only one really dirty look before I realized that I was going to be banished for life from his sewing room unless I sealed my mouth. It wasn't the words I realized, that had him so entranced, but the beauty of the woman's voice and it was to become a voice that would become part of my childhood and a voice that seemed to lurk in the background of my subconscious whenever I thought about Israel.

When Ofra Haza died in February of 2000 from complications relating to AIDS, Israel lost one of its most renown international singing stars and the Sephadic community of Israel lost one of its most renown children. Haza was born in nineteen fifty-seven to Yemenite parents who had fled their home in Yemen as a result of Muslin persecution of its Jewish population. Before entering her two-year term of compulsory service in the IDF at age eighteen, Haza had been a member of the prestigious Hatikva theatrical troupe and had cut a number of successful and award winning records making her a star at an early age in Israel. Following her discharge from the IDF, Haza embarked on a solo career which reached its peak when she received a Grammy nomination for her 1992 album Kirya, where she was featured with Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.

Haza's traditional Yemenite style blended well with dance, club, trance, and traditional Israeli music making her one of the Middle East's most successful and accessible artists. Her songs used a mixture of Hebrew, Aramaic, and English and encapsulated a great deal of the struggle between Israeli and Arab and both the beauty and ugliness of the Middle East. The combination of such strong emotional content, a strong and sultry voice, and a woman of enormous physical beauty made her a superstar unlike any other.

It's her voice that I'll miss the most.

 

Enjoyment: 95

Sound: 80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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