Hay Hay Hay Ofra Haza Karaoke
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Bat-Sheva Ofra Haza-Ashkenazi, known professionally as Ofra Haza (Hebrew: עפרה חזה; 19 November 1957 – 23 February 2000), was an Yemeni-Israeli singer, actress and Grammy Award-nominee recording artist, commonly known in the Western world as “The Israeli Madonna”,or “Madonna of the East”. Her voice has been described as a “tender” mezzo-soprano. Hay Hay Hay Ofra Haza Karaoke
Of Yemeni heritage, Haza’s music is known as a mixture of traditional and commercial singing styles, fusing elements of Eastern and Western instrumentation, orchestration and dance-beat. She became successful in Europe and the Americas; during her singing career, she earned many platinum and gold discs.
Bat-Sheva Ofra Haza was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, to Mizrahi Jewish parents from Yemen who immigrated to Israel. She was the youngest of nine children (six sisters and two brothers) to Yefet and Shoshana Haza. They were raised in a Masorti household in the Hatikva Quarter, then an impoverished neighborhood of Tel Aviv.
At the age of 12, Haza joined a local theater troupe, and manager Bezalel Aloni noticed her singing talent. He spotlighted her in many of his productions, and later became her manager and mentor. At 19, she was Israel’s foremost pop star, and music journalists retrospectively described her as “the Madonna of the East”.
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Her first album, entitled Al Ahavot Shelanu (“About Our Loves”), was released in 1980 and yielded a string of popular radio hits, including Hageshem (“The Rain”), Shir Ahava La’chayal (“Love Song For The Soldier”), Kmo Tzipor (“Like A Bird”) and what ultimately became her signature song in Israel, Shir Ha’frecha (“The Bimbo Song”). The latter was written for the film Schlager (1979) in which Haza played a leading role. At first, radio stations across the country refused to play the song due to its lyrics, which at the time were unacceptable, but it quickly climbed the charts and reached No. 1, where it stayed for five consecutive weeks. Later in the year, the album attained gold status. Hay Hay Hay Ofra Haza Karaoke
A second album soon followed, Bo Nedaber (“Let’s Talk”), eventually going gold. The album included the singles Tfila (“Prayer”) and Simanim Shel Ohavim (“Lovers Signs”).
Her third album, Pituyim (“Temptations”) came out in 1982, reaching gold status as well, with such singles as Gabriel and Kol Yom Matchila Shana (“A New Year Starts Every Day”). With this album, more well-known writers agreed to write her songs, including Tzvika Pick and Nurit Hirsh.
At the Eurovision Song Contest, Haza came in a close second to the Luxembourg entry with the song “Chai” (“Alive”). Her first platinum album, Chai, released in 1983, became the biggest-selling album of her career, and the title track was voted the No. 1 song of the year. Additional songs from the album included Amen Lamilim (“Amen For Words”) and Sof Hakayitz (“End Of Summer”). Haza was named “Female Vocalist Of The Year” four years in a row, from 1980 through 1983 by Kol Israel radio. Later that year, Haza released Shirey Moledet which consisted of her renditions of Israeli folk songs, eventually going platinum. Haza released two additional volumes in 1985 and 1987.
Bait Ham (“Warm House”) was released in 1984 and included the singles Yad Beyad (“Hand In Hand”), Itcha Halayla (“With You Tonight”) and the title track. The album went gold. In December that year Haza released a collection of Yemenite songs, simply titled Yemenite Songs. Despite lukewarm radio airplay, the album went on to become a best-seller, reaching platinum status. This LP was reissued in the United States by Shanachie Records under the title Fifty Gates of Wisdom. Hay Hay Hay Ofra Haza Karaoke
The album Adama (“Earth”) followed in 1985 and saw writers in the country contributing to the album such as Sasha Argov, Naomi Shemer, Ya’akov Orland and Ehud Manor, among others. The album produced the singles Adama, Goral Echad (“One Destiny”) and Mishehu Holech Tamid Iti (“Someone Always Walks With Me”), and reached gold status. Later that year, Ofra released “Shirey Moledet B”, a continuation of her renditions of Israeli folk songs. The album went gold.
In 1986, Haza worked with producer Izhar Ashdot to create Yamim Nishbarim (“Broken Days”). The album’s lyrics were written by Haza herself. The album went gold and produced the singles Kol Haklafim (“Open Your Cards”), Bo Ve-Nagen Oti (“Come and Play Me”) and Hake’ev Haze (“This Pain”).
Her major international breakthrough came in the wake of the album Shirei Teiman (“Yemenite songs”), which she recorded in 1984. The album consisted of songs that Haza had heard in childhood, using arrangements that combined authentic Middle Eastern percussion with classical instruments. Further recognition came with the single “Im Nin’alu”, taken from the album Shaday (1988), which won the New Music Award for Best International Album of the Year. The song topped the Eurochart for two weeks in June that year and was on heavy rotation on MTV channels across the continent. In the annals of classical hip-hop this song would be extensively re-released, re-mixed and sampled, for example on Coldcut’s remix of Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid in Full”. The single made only a brief appearance in the UK top 40 singles chart, but became a dance floor favorite across Europe and the USA, topping the German charts for nine weeks. Subsequent singles were also given the dance-beat / MTV-style video treatment, most notably, Galbi, Daw Da Hiya and Mata Hari, but none quite matched the runaway success of her first hit. Im Nin’alu would go on to be featured on an in-game radio playlist of the video game Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, released in 2005 and featured on Panjabi MC’s album “Indian Timing” in 2009.
Haza also received critical acclaim for the albums Fifty Gates of Wisdom (1984), Desert Wind (1989), Kirya (1992) and Ofra Haza (1997). Hay Hay Hay Ofra Haza Karaoke
In 1992, Kirya (co-produced by Don Was) received a Grammy nomination.
In 1994, Haza released her first Hebrew album in seven years, Kol Haneshama (“The Whole Soul”). Though not an initial chart success, the album produced one of her biggest hits to date, Le’orech Hayam (“Along The Sea”), written by Ayala Asherov. The song did not have any substantial chart success upon its release to radio but became an anthem after Haza performed it on the assembly in memorial to deceased Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a week after he was assassinated. Radio stations around the country began to play it. Its lyrics became even more symbolic following Haza’s own death in 2000.
A memorial to Ofra Haza in the Hatikva Quarter garden, Tel Aviv
Memorial plaque in memory of Ofra Haza at her childhood home in 39 Boaz Street, Tel Aviv.
Her collaborative work with internationally established acts included the single “Temple of Love (Touched by the Hand of Ofra Haza)”, recorded with The Sisters of Mercy in 1992. Thomas Dolby co-produced Yemenite Songs and Desert Wind, on which he was also a guest musician. Haza guested on Dolby’s album Astronauts And Heretics (1992), singing on the track “That’s Why People Fall In Love”. She recorded “My Love Is for Real” with Paula Abdul in 1995 and on Sarah Brightman’s album Harem, Haza’s vocals were included on “Mysterious Days”, thanks to an idea by Brightman’s partner Frank Peterson (ex-Enigma), who produced both Harem (2003) and the album Ofra Haza (1997). Haza also sang backing vocals on the song “Friend of Stars” by the German electro-pop band And One, from the Spot (1993) album.
For the Kirya album, Iggy Pop, a friend of Don Was, performed the narration on “Daw Da Hiya” and Haza joined him and a host of other stars for the video and single release “Give Peace A Chance” in 1991. She also sang on the soundtracks of Colors (1988), Dick Tracy (1990), Wild Orchid (1990), Queen Margot (1994) and The Prince of Egypt (1998). Hay Hay Hay Ofra Haza Karaoke
In The Prince of Egypt, she voiced the small role of Yocheved, singing “Deliver Us”. When Hans Zimmer, who was working with Haza on the music for The Prince of Egypt, introduced her to the artists, they thought that she was so beautiful that they drew Yocheved to look like the singer. For the film’s soundtracks, Haza sang the song “Deliver Us” in 18 languages, about half of which were sung phonetically, including:
On the soundtrack of The Governess (1998), Haza is the featured singer on seven of the twelve tracks and worked closely with film music composer Edward Shearmur. In 1999, she performed (together with late Pakistani artist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) the track “Forgiveness”, on the contemporary symphony album The Prayer Cycle by Jonathan Elias. As a featured background vocalist, Haza’s voice has been recorded, re-mixed or sampled for Black Dog’s “Babylon” single, Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid In Full (Coldcut Remix)”, “Temple of Love (1992)” by The Sisters of Mercy, and for the M/A/R/R/S hit “Pump Up The Volume”. The single “Love Song” has been re-mixed by DJs many times, its powerful vocal performance and comparatively sparse musical arrangement making it the perfect vehicle for a dance-rhythm accompaniment.
Covers of songs by other artists included the Carole King/James Taylor song “You’ve Got a Friend”, Madonna’s “Open Your Heart”, Gary Moore’s “Separate Ways”, and Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”.
There were many live performances and Haza spoke with fond memories of her visits to Japan and Turkey. She performed at the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, where she appeared alongside Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor. “Paint Box” was written specially for the event. Her 1990 live recording, Ofra Haza At Montreux Jazz Festival was released in 1998.
Haza shared duets and concert performances with Glykeria, Yehudit Ravitz, Paul Anka, Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, Iggy Pop, Hoite, Buddha Bar, Ishtar, Gidi Gov, Whitney Houston, Tzvika Pick, Khaled, Prachim Yerushalaim, The Sisters of Mercy, Thomas Dolby, Stefan Waggershausen, Eric B and Rakim, Gila Miniha, Hans Zimmer, Hagashash Hachiver, Yaffa Yarkoni, Dana International, Shoshana Damari and posthumously with Sarah Brightman.
In late 1999, Haza recorded new material for a new album that she worked on with Ron Aviv, a music producer from Petah Tikva. At the time, she also worked with the Finnish violinist Linda Brava, who released a previously unreleased track called Tarab on her MySpace page on 14 May 2010. On the track, Haza sings in English, Arabic and Hebrew, while Brava plays the electric violin. The track is possibly Haza’s last recording.
On 15 July 1997, Haza married businessman Doron Ashkenazi. The couple had no children, but Ashkenazi had an adopted son, Shai, and a biological daughter from his first marriage.
Ofra Haza’s grave in Yarkon Cemetery
Ofra Haza died on 23 February 2000, at the age of 42, of AIDS-related pneumonia. While the fact that she was HIV-positive is now generally known, the decision by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz to report it shortly after her death was controversial in Israel.
After Haza’s death was announced, Israeli radio stations played non-stop retrospectives of her music. Then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak praised her work as a cultural emissary, commenting that she also represented the Israeli success story — “Ofra emerged from the Hatikvah slums to reach the peak of Israeli culture. She has left a mark on us all.”
The fact that Haza died because of an AIDS-related illness added another layer to the public mourning. The revelation of Haza’s illness caused much surprise among fans, along with debate about whether the media invaded her privacy by reporting it. There was also speculation about how she had acquired the virus. Immediately after her death, the media placed blame on her husband, Tel Aviv businessman Doron Ashkenazi, for infecting her with the disease. Haza’s manager Bezalel Aloni supported this belief, writing in his book that Haza acquired AIDS through sex with her husband. Later, it was revealed that her husband believed Haza became infected because of a blood transfusion she received in a hospital following a miscarriage. Ashkenazi himself died of a drug overdose roughly one year later on 7 April 2001, leaving a daughter from a prior marriage and a 14-year-old adopted son, Shai Ashkenazi.