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Ofra Haza

Biography

Israel's first international pop star, Haza was one of the first divas of Worldbeat to emerge in the 1980s. Born to Yemenite refugees in Israel, a background in theatre led her to singing. Haza's gorgeous voice and mix of material made her popular in Europe, but more uniquely, also popular in the Arab world. Impassioned vocals and heavy percussion similar to that found in bellydance music distinguished her songs from their traditional Yemenite roots. Her deep vocal presence and smooth phrasing, notable for its sustained trills and soaring flights into higher registers, have been sampled by rappers and landed her in collaborations with western acts such as Sisters of Mercy, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and producer Don Was. Later in her career, Haza began to sing in English more; and while some of that music is dated by its production values (e.g., lightweight synthesizer tones), most of her work remains solid.

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