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Ofra Haza
Shaday
1988 Warner Bros.

My favorite Ofra Haza’s album is Shaday. The subsequent ones just sound like imitations of this first of international, English speaking releases.

To me Ofra Haza is the living embodiment of the word exotic. From the album covers, to her lyrics and most important, her ethereal voice. Opera like in nature, she can hit and hold any note. Her Jewish Yemenite background gives her a lot of material to cover. She is the prototype from which Sarit Hadad, Zahava Ben and all the other female mizrachit singers came from.

Produced by Wally Brill, Shaday is almost a remix of her older album, Yemenite Songs (also released as The Fifty gates of Wisdom). It opens with Im Nin Alu, a traditional Yemenite classic by Rabbi Shalom Shabazi and includes the fast-paced Galbi and others. English lyrics are injected in each.

Merged with the traditional percussion and ethnic string instruments are electronic beats. It has an old school club/house feel with an exotic Enigma or Dead Can Dance vibe as well. The hypnotic title track is a standout too with English lyrics about a lost girl returning to her homeland.

Keep in mind that previous albums were Whiney Houston-esque collections of pop tunes and love songs with the only Jewish connection being that it was in Hebrew. Apparently her roots music made her a hometown hero and started her off into become the most well known female Israeli singer of all time.



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