Wednesday, November 14, 2012

They love the Israeli singer Rita in Iran

Rita, on a talk show with other Israelis of Iranian origin ( including now disgraced ex-president Moshe Katzav) sings the famous 'Goleh Sangam'.  

It’s not every day an Israeli wakes up to an email inbox full of love letters from Iran. Yet they come in droves to the Israeli singer Rita Yahan-Farouz, currently on tour. The Jerusalem Post reports:

The 50-year-old Iran native, who performs under the name Rita, is arguably Israel’s most popular female entertainer. She has put out 12 albums since hitting the Israeli music scene in 1985, many of them going platinum on the country's charts.
Rita’s latest album, “My Joys,” is sung in Farsi, in which she is fluent. By including old folk tunes from Iranian culture, like the traditional Persian wedding song “Shah Doomad,” Rita has won legions of listeners in a land whose leaders regularly call for her adopted country's demise.

“You wouldn’t believe some of the emails I get from people in Iran," Rita says laughingly during a phone interview with JTA while traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco as part of her US tour through mid-November.  "They tell me how much they love me and how much they love Israel.”

Rita describes her musical vibe as a “gypsy band,” infusing classic Mediterranean spirits of complex percussion rhythms and upbeat tempos with unusual instruments of the genre like woodwinds, ouds and violins.

Growing up in Tehran under the shah’s rule, Rita remembers a vibrant childhood filled with Persian music. Still, the family kept their Jewish identity a secret from neighbors. In 1970, when Rita was 8, her family moved to Israel.

“My sister came home from school one time in tears because her teacher asked her to recite a Muslim prayer in front of the class. The teacher was shocked when she didn’t know it," Rita recalls. "After that incident, my father decided we should leave Iran.”

Rita says she has dreamed of creating an album that could serve as a bridge between two countries that have seen nothing but tension in recent years.

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