28 February 2012

Year 2, Day 59 (The Passing Of A Musical Legend)

In today's post, I will break away from my usual banter and redirect your attention to someone much more worthy of it than I. No doubt we have all heard of the sudden and unexpected demise of Whitney Houston, a music legend and one quite worthy of "Diva" status. But she is not the legend to which the parenthetical title refers. There is one who was not only a legend and diva, but who went largely unnoticed by the mainstream masses. This past February 23 marks the 12 year memorial of when we lost the gifted voice of Ofra Haza.

Ofra Haza was an artist who not only had achieved a great success of her own accord, but whose voice was sought out by many other artists, cuch as Thomas Dolby, Paula Abdul, even the alternative group, The Sisters Of Mercy, for their song, Temple Of Love (the 12" single of which I have had on vinyl since high school).

She had not only a beautiful voice, but was also proud of her Jewish background, as well as her Yemeni origin, even to the point where her love and musical prowess was bridging the divide between Israel and the Arab countries. Not only did she cover a wide variety of musical styles, she also covered a few songs by very well known artists. One of note, which (in my opinion) is a very passionate - and yet haunting - cover of Kashmir, the rock classic by Led Zeppelin:

However, believe it not, just about ALL of you have heard of Ofra Haza and never even realized it. In 1998 (about 2 years before she died), she was working with composer Hans Zimmer on some music for a motion picture soundtrack. It was said that when he introduced Ofra Haza to the other artists, they commented how beautiful she was, and one of the characters in the animated feature that they were working on, was drawn with her likeness. That character was Yochaved, the mother of Moses. The movie: Prince Of Egypt. The most notable song from that movie (which was sung by Ofra Haza) was "Deliver Us".

Ofra Haza left us on February 23, 2000, from AIDS-related pneumonia. She contracted the HIV virus just a few years before from a blood transfusion, following a miscarriage. She was only 42. In honor of her (and apropos of this memorial) , this final video is of her singing the traditional Jewish prayer, "Kaddish", which is commonly referred to as "The Mourner's Kaddish". Those of us who appreciate what you have given us, you are truly missed, Ofra Haza!

Should you seek more info on Ofra Haza, the is a comprehensive posting of her life and career on Wikipedia, as well as a website devoted to keep her memory and legacy alive, and can be seen in both English and Hebrew.

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