Happy birthday Ofra Haza!

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Ofra Haza (November 19, 1957—February 23, 2000) was an Israeli singer and actress. She was a symbol of Yemenite and Israeli success, emerging from poverty to record the hits "Hageshem (The Rain)," "Chai (Alive)," and many others.

OfraHazapng373x406Haza was born Bat-Sheva Ofra Haza in Tel Aviv, Israel. Her family was of Yemenite Jewish descent. She began singing in a theater troupe at the age of 12.

She released her first album in 1980, Al Ahavot Shelanu (Our Love). The album included the hits "Hageshem (The Rain)," "Shir Ahava La'chayal (Love Song For The Soldier)," and "Kmo Tzipor (Like A Bird)."

Haza followed with the albums Bo Nedaber (Let's Talk; 1981) and Pituyim (Temptations; 1982). By this time she was enormously successful in Israel. Music journalists now look back on Haza during these years as the "Madonna of the east."

In 1983, Haza's career hit a new peak. She released the album Chai (Alive), with a hit song of the same title, and it became her biggest-selling album to date. She performed the song at the Eurovision Song Contest; her performance is now remembered as historic and symbolic as it took place in Munich, the site of the 1972 Olympic massacre, and contained the lyric "Israel is alive." (Image source)

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She continued to release hits throughout the 1980s, including "Yad Beyad (Hand In Hand)" and "Itcha Halayla (With You Tonight)" off of Bait Ham (Warm House; 1984). Also in 1984, she released Shirei Teiman (Yemenite songs), which consisted of Yemenite songs she had heard in her youth.

Other albums which earned her critical acclaim and international success included Shaday (1988), Fifty Gates of Wisdom (1988), Desert Wind (1989), Kirya (1992), and Ofra Haza (1997).

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Haza died at the age of 42 of AIDS-related pneumonia. She was widely praised as a cultural emissary and an example of hope, having been born and raised in the slums and emerging to become an international star.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Wednesday, 19 November 2014
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