Ofra Haza

This Yemenite singer has played a prominent role on the Israeli and International music scene.

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Sales of another Haza album, Shaday (1988), passed the one-million mark in Europe, adding to Haza's international recognition. That same year, Haza placed first in the Golden Lion television competition in Germany and the International Song Festival in Tokyo. In 1989 she moved to New York and also made a successful appearance at the London Palladium. Such renowned music producers as Arif Mardin and Thomas Dolby asked to work with her and ultimately produced her Desert Wind album (1989).


Singers Paul Anka and Cliff Richard recorded duets with her. Haza also recorded a duet in 1997 with the singer Iggy Pop for his album, which was nominated for a Grammy award that year. In 1989 Haza was invited by Steven Spielberg to perform the song "Deliver Us" for the animated feature The Prince of Egypt. She recorded the song in twenty-nine languages and even voiced the role of Yokheved, mother of Moses, in the film. In 1990, Haza turned down an offer by singer Michael Jackson for a joint international concert tour.

In the course of her meteoric rise, the top Israeli songwriters, including Naomi Shemer, Ehud Manor, Sasha Argov, Moshe Wilensky, Svika Pick, and many others, offered her their songs. A large part of her repertoire was written by Bezalel Aloni, her manager of many years. Other songs were written by Haza herself, in collaboration with Aloni or with composers and lyricists who wrote for her. A considerable proportion of Haza's repertoire was based on traditional Yemenite songs.

Ofra Haza DVDDespite her extensive international career, Haza never ceased performing in Israel, where her appearances always drew large audiences. She frequently appeared at army bases in the North and South of the country. While returning from one of these shows, the plane carrying her and Aloni crashed; miraculously, the two survived. Haza performed at numerous Israeli song festivals for children and adults, generally singing the winning song. Ofra Haza fan clubs were set up in various locales around Israel.

In 1997 Haza married businessman Doron Ashkenazi and shortly thereafter severed her ties with Bezalel Aloni. In 1998 she was chosen to perform Naomi Shemer's "Jerusalem of Gold" at the official ceremony marking Israel's fiftieth anniversary.

In February 2000 Haza was rushed to Tel Hashomer Hospital suffering from massive organ failure. She died on February 23, 2000.

Ofra Haza is one of the major links in the chain of Yemenite women singers who have played such a prominent role on the Israeli music scene over the years. Their ranks have included Brachah Zefira, Esther Gamlielit, Shoshana Damari, Ahuva Tzadok and Achinoam Nini.

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Nathan Shahar first achieved fame as a composer, choir conductor and musical director of various radio and television broadcasts. The main area of his musicological research is the musical and social-musical aspects of Hebrew song: a topic on which he has published a series of articles in Israel and abroad. Shahar has taught for many years both at Bet Berl College and also at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.