|Feb 24th, 2000
Singer Ofra Haza Dies at Age 42
Feb 24, 2000, 11:50 am PT
Ofra Haza Israeli singer Ofra Haza, who took a liturgical song of the Jews of Yemen and turned it into a worldwide hit, died of massive organ failure in Tel Aviv yesterday at the age of 42, after nearly two weeks in the hospital. At her family's request, the cause of her hospitalization has not been disclosed.
Haza was the youngest of nine children born in the poor Hatikvah area of Tel Aviv. Her parents immigrated to Palestine traveling by foot from Yemen in the late '20s. She joined a neighborhood theater workshop run by Bazezel Aloni at 12 years old. She worked with the Hatikvah Workshop Theater for seven years, recording albums of their musical productions and becoming a star in Israel.
In 1983, she represented the country in the Eurovision Song Festival, taking second place with the song "Chai." In 1986, she made an album of Yemenite folk songs called Fifty Gates of Wisdom, recorded with just drums and her voice.
At the suggestion of her manager's children, two of the songs "Im Ninalu" and "Galbi" were given dance remixes. The remixed version of "Im Ninalu" topped the charts all across Europe in the summer of 1988. Her remarkable vocals were sampled by acts as diverse as Eric B. and Rakim and M/A/R/R/S.
She earned 16 gold records during her career, earning a Grammy nomination for the Don Was- produced Kirya. She also worked with artists as diverse as jazz saxophonist David McMurry, producer Arif Mardin, Thomas Dolby, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop. Her last recording was the theme from the animated feature The Prince Of Egypt, though her career slowed down after she married in 1997.
Ofra's vocals are featured on Abdul's 1995 single "My Love Is For Real".
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-- Hank Bordowitz