Ofra Haza

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Ofra Haza (Hebrew: , עפרה חזה‎ November 19, 1957 – February 23, 2000) was an Israeli singer, actress and international recording artist. She was one of the most popular and appreciated female singers in Israel.

Haza was born the youngest of nine children in the poor Tel Aviv neighborhood of Hatikvah in 39 Boaz Street. At an early age she became a local, then national, success story, the subject of great pride for many Israelis.

Her voice has been described as mezzo-soprano, of near-flawless tonal quality, capable of lending itself to a variety of musical styles with apparent ease.[citation needed]

Inspired by a love of her Yemeni Jewish culture, the appeal of her musical art quickly spread to a wider Middle Eastern audience, somehow bridging the divide between Israel and the Arab countries. As her career progressed, the multi-lingual Haza was able to switch between traditional and more commercial singing styles without jeopardizing her credibility. The music, too, fused elements of Eastern and Western instrumentation, orchestration and dance-beat. Success was to follow in Europe and the Americas; during her singing career, she earned many platinum and gold discs.

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Early career

At the age of twelve and one-half years, Haza joined a local theater troupe, and manager Bezalel Aloni spotted her exceptional singing talent. He staged many of his productions around Haza as the centrepiece and later on he became her longtime manager and mentor. At the age of 19, she was Israel's first pop princess and retrospectively, music journalists described her as "The Madonna of the East".

By the time she had completed her military service in 1979, Aloni's protégée had matured as a singer and was ready to launch a solo career.

Her first album, entitled Al Ahavot Shelanu (Our Love), 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 her homeland, "Shir Ha'frecha" (The Bimbo Song). The latter was written for the film Shlagger (1979) in which Haza played a leading role. At first, radio stations across the country refused to play the song due to its explicit lyrics but it quickly climbed the charts and reached #1, where it stayed for five consecutive weeks.

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