November 19, 1957
Singer Ofra Haza, the youngest of nine children, is born in Tel Aviv to a family who had emigrated from Yemen.
Haza grows up in the impoverished Hatikvah Quarter, where she is surrounded by music, including a mother who was a singer in Yemen. Haza joins her school choir. and at age 12 she participates in the Hatikvah Quarter Theater Workshop, a program set up to encourage people to participate in the arts.
Haza in 1973 performs “Ga’agu’im” (Yearning), an instant hit. She finishes third at the Mizrahi Music Festival in 1974 with the song “Shabbat ha-Malkah.” After her military service, Haza commits to a singing career. In 1979, she delivers a hit with the song “Shir-ha-Freha” in the movie “Shlagger.” She then wins Israel’s Singer of the Year award every year from 1980 to 1983. She represented Israel in the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest and finishes second with the song “Hai,” marking her international breakthrough.
After continuing success in Israel and Europe, Haza moves to New York in 1989 and finds producers such as Thomas Dolby and Arif Mardin eager to work with her. She records duets with Paul Anka, Cliff Richard and Iggy Pop. She sings “Deliver Us” in 29 languages for the 1998 animated Exodus film “Prince of Egypt” and voices the part of Yocheved, Moses’ mother. Throughout her international acclaim, Haza continues to perform in Israel, including singing “Jerusalem of Gold” at the ceremony marking the state’s 50th anniversary in 1998.
She dies Feb. 23, 2000, from organ failure related to AIDS.