A-Wa: Yemenite Music from the Desert goes Mainstream

A-Wa is a trio of Yemenite Jewish Girls born in a far away small southern Israeli village called Shaharut near the Egyptian border. It’s the perfect place for raw and authentic music artists to thrive away from the glitz and glamour of big city centers such as Tel-Aviv that can often manipulate artists into selling out their true musical identity. I am so glad to see such talent emerge as a continuation or even dedication to Yemenite Jewish singers such as Ofra Haza whose life was cut short or Shlomo Moga’a whose song, Habib Galbi [Love of my Heart], A-Wa brings back to life in two rebooted versions: 1. The album version using electronic music and 2. The acoustic version using authentic Yemenite percussion arrangements:



For more information: .

Another favorite of mine is the Yemenite Rain Song because of how simple yet great their music can be:

And lastly (for now), the song Zangbila played live in a coffee house:

Sabrina: Bridging Moroccan Berber musical traditions with Modern Beats

Songs in the Northern Moroccan Tarifit Berber dialect have undergone a modernization of sorts by combining traditional singing styles with Western electronic music beats rendering a haunting yet refreshing sound to music that usually does not need much to sound great. Sabrina’s youthful style along with her undulating voice make for some pretty incredible musical moments:

Kanykei Covers

Kanykei is a Kyrgyz artist who has been covered on this blog before.  Her voice is sometimes compared to Shakira.  I found this bootleg video of her performing “Whenever, Wherever” by Shakira and the crowd goes crazy.

There is other footage of her covering the Cranberries in the news excerpt.

I think it’s neat that artists from across the globe can cover each other songs, proving that music is the international language.

Intro to Israeli Mizrahit Music Mix feat Sarit Hadad, Zehava Ben, Eyal Golan, Ishtar (aka Alabina) w/ Kobi Peretz, Bat-El Tohar, and Rita

Simcha Mizrahit by Ron Aaron Sager on Mixcloud

Mizrahi music or Mizrahit is a combination of all the folk/ethnic music that was brought to Israel by Jewish immigrants coming from the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Even India can be included in this category as there are Jews who came from India to Israel. However, the most obvious influence in Mizrahi music is a melange of Turkish, Greek and Arabic music that has been adapted to suit the Israeli taste of music. There is a predilection for happy feel-good songs but sad and somber songs also dominate the genre specially when looking to provide relief for broken hearts and life turning events such as a daughter or son leaving the house after getting married. A good Mizrahi singer is one that can also sing in other languages than Hebrew that are related to the genre such as Arabic, Greek, Persian, etc. Usually if a Mizrahi singer is from let’s say Moroccan background, yo are likely to hear them sing in some type of Arabic dialect whether it is their indigenous one or another from let’s say Egypt or Iraq. Some singers only sing in one language be it Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, etc.

The songs of this mix include the following titles:

1. Sarit Hadad – Do you love me? (A cover to a Lebanese song by the same title. The Sarit Hadad version is more upbeat and less throaty. More danceable too. The Arabic language part has been replaced by Hebrew.)
2. Zehava Ben – Kaze Romanti (Romatic like this…) is a song by Zehava Ben who probably has the strongest and best voice out of any female singers of the genre. She is usually known for sad songs but now makes more happy songs and not as tragic ballads as she used to. However, the drama and emotion are still there as that is an inseparable part of her persona.
3. Eyal Golan – Osher Amiti (True Happiness) is a song by Eyal Golan who is by far the most successful and renown singer of the genre in Israel. He is a major celebrity in Israel and enjoys a huge following both at home and abroad.
4. Ishtar (aka Alabina) in a duet with Kobi Peretz – Yakhad (Together) – This song was a major hit in Israel. Ishtar or Alabina (real name: Etti Zakh) is a very talented singer who is more known for her Arabic singing along with an ensemble of gypsy singers who usually co-sing with her. She sings the Arabic part of the songs and they sing in Spanish. However, recently she has begun to sing more solo and this song is part of that more solo part of her. This duet is in Arabic and Hebrew in which the two singers alternate between Hebrew and Arabic with most of the Arabic sung by here and the Hebrew by Kobi Peretz. Kobi Peretz is also a very famous singer of the genre.
5. Sarit Hadad – Sameakh (Happy, Joyful) is a very catchy song by Mizrahit super star Sarit Hadad. She has had a more consistent career than Zehava Ben and outshining her because of that. Zehava Ben, on the other hand, has had a lot of ups and downs but seems to have reestablished herself as the all time Queen of Mizrahit.
6. Zehava Ben – Aluf Sheli (My Champion) is an extremely upbeat song of Zehava Ben with a rather marked Egyptian music arrangement style.
7. Ishtar (aka Alabina) – Allah Alek Ya Sidi (Well done Master) is a cover of an Arabic song by Egyptian singer Ehab Tawkfik. Her version is as good or better. She brings such passion into her rendering of Arabic songs!
8. Bat El-Tohar – Rak Tagid (Just tell me…) is a song by an upcoming singer of the genre who has become quite popular particularly in the Beer-Sheva area in Israel. She has a very sweet voice that makes you want to listen to her more and more.
9. Rita – Shane (‘Hair Comb’ in Persian) is a rendering of a famous Persian song by the same title originally sung by Vigen & Pooran. The song is part of Rita’s Persian songs album called in Hebrew “HaSmakhot Sheli” (My joys…) An immensely popular pop singer in Israel who was originally born in Tehran, Iran decided to record the album in dedication to her Persian roots. It proved to be a huge hit with Israeli and Iranian audiences alike.

More info and songs from these artists will be posted…

Kanykei II – Mol Bulak/Kopolok (Butterfly)/Adashtym (Mistake)


[All the songs in this post are found in the iTunes link above.]

In this second posting about Kanykei, we showcase a few more of her clips and elaborate a little bit more about her. Kanykei is known for her flashy image that is not only striking in the eyes, but also in thought. Once you see her, you will probably not forget her because of her dashing eye make-up style a la Lady Gaga or her voice very reminiscent of Shakira. It is not that she is trying to sound like anyone as several female singers from this region of the world have voices that have the Shakira quality of voice and tone. Female Central Asian singers from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan naturally can have that type of singing voice. Kanykei is the Kyrgyz equivalent of that Shakiraesque type of voice whereas Ziyoda would be the Uzbek equivalent. In real life, Kanykei prefers a simpler style and not as much make-up; however, her fashion style is immaculate and she possesses her own style of dressing blending modern cutting-edge outfits with Kyrgyz elements making her look unique and stunning. Not much is known about her private life as she has declared that she prefers to keep a veil of secrecy around her personal and family life. This is fact adds to the aura of mystery around her stage presence as well as her day-to-day look.