Thursday, February 16, 2006

Yemen-born diva dies

Born in 1923 in the city of Damar in Yemen, Shoshana Damari, diva of Israeli popular song and an Israel Prize laureate, has died aged 83.

She came to Israel at the age of two. She began her long musical career as a young child, accompanying her mother, who sang at functions. Damari left her parents' home at age 13 and moved to Tel Aviv, where she met her manager Shlomo Bushmi. The two married three years later.

That same year, 1949, Damari launched a solo musical act at the Li-La-Lo Theater and became a permanent cast member at the theater. One of the numbers written for the theater by poet Natan Alterman and composed by Shlomo Wilenski, Kalaniot (anemones) became her trademark song over the years.

Her alto voice was distinctive because of her Yemenite pronunciation of some Hebrew letters. She was very well known especially in the period before and after the founding of the State of Israel. She is considered by many as the "Queen of Israeli song".

She was also known for her popularity amongst Israeli soldiers, for whom she frequently performed over several decades.

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