Ofra may have left us, but we have Shaday to thank her for.
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 12/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amid 2000's numerous music acquisitions, I uncovered a rare and sparkling gem. That gem was Shaday by Yemenite Jewish singer Ofra Haza. I found out about her because she had died of AIDS that year, and that made me want her music that much more.The definitive version of Ofra's signature tune "Im Nin'Alu" kicks off Shaday, and this was one of the most infectious songs I ever heard. The opening croon of the title sounds like a religious call to music lovers to come to enjoy. The Middle Eastern sounds is what did it for me, as well as the infectious dance rhythms. It was like tasting an exotic spice for the first time and my mouth loving me for it. Well, my ears definitely loved me even after the first fifty or so times I played "Im Nin'Alu."Songs like "Eshal" and "Da'ale Da'ale" are sprinkled with the same exotic rhythms. The fact that she sings Hebrew in parts of the songs doesn't matter a whit--it only adds to wondrous flavor of her music.The piano ballad "My Aching Heart" is my second favorite song here. The chorus to this is a heartbreaker: "When you flow through me/Surround me and light the dark/Brand me and leave your mark/My aching heart/Is breaking again." This might have made a good breakthrough single, as it is sung entirely in English, but seeing how shamefully the US dissed Kylie Minogue, what they would have done to Ofra would've been even worse.The a capella "Love Song" demonstrates the vitality of Ofra's soaring vocals, a quality that also highlights the next track,
"Galbi," a slow-bopping dance tune."Face To Face" and "Take Me To Paradise" are more on the mainstream side of the spectrum as they are sung entirely in English.The title track is the other ballad on this album and it details the sorrowful circumstances the Israelis found themselves in after regaining some sort of homeland after being totally crushed defeated by the Assyrians, liberated by Cyrus the Great, and finally scattered throughout Europe after the Roman occupation. She sings: "My lovely land my lonely land/Alone two thousand years/And now returned our holy land/But fields are filled with tears." Gee, sound like a familiar situation still going on today?Ofra Haza is another talent that died way too young. She was also chaste and religious like another singer, Selena. Calling her the Israeli Madonna misses the mark by far due to her unique vocals and music style.It's amazing how she overcame prejudice from the dominant whiter Israelis to international stardom. She loved her land but wondered why so many people had to die for it (q.v. "Kirya"). She also loved peace, as she performed for Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yasir Arafat when all three won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize. But what would she have considered as a workable peace solution?And a reminder for those leaning towards Palestinians and their plight: for every Ariel Sharon, there is an Ofra Haza to remind us that the Israeli people have their saintly side. She is just one more friend I never got to meet."
Voice of an angel....
D. Pawl | Seattle | 10/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ofra Haza was someone I had only heard of, after her death (due to AIDS related illness) in 2000. After reading much about her life, her beliefs and her talent, "Shaday" really peaked my curiousity. I hadn't been exposed to Yemenite music (from Israel) in the past, and had only heard the samples on Amazon, but that was enough to motivate me and buy the album. This is something I am very glad I did.
"Shaday" features "Im Nin' Alu," a beautiful and catchy song that caught the ears of many worldwide. Though, the arrangements are distinctly from the 1980s (the arrangement and synthesized accompaniment), it still remains a stellar example of Haza's vocal ability and her expression as an artist. Haza's voice is best described as soaring, clear and just gorgeous. You need to hear the samples, for yourself, to really get a picture of this woman and her talent. Another exceptional song is "Love Song," which is acapella and a traditional song, and is achingly beautiful and full of longing. Though, she sings in her traditional dialect, she also mixes in English, and blends Middle Eastern accompaniment, with more Western elements. This is a fusion and blend of two cultures coming together as one. The lyrics are full of meaning and thought, and are really best described as poetry set to song.
It is tragic that such a beautiful artist had to die at such a young age, but at least her memory lives on in her song. We are fortunate to have that......"
A Brilliant, Beautiful Breakthrough
MusicMan | Midwest USA | 11/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album from 1988 was Ofra's Haza's brilliant breakthrough into the West, into the U.S., and beyond. Previously she had been famous mainly in the Middle East. Ofra Haza had also been well known in Europe with her song "Chai" which was a winner in the 1983 Eurovision song contest. However, with the release of Shaday she exploded into widespread international fame with the hit "I'm Nin' Alu." This song became a #1 hit in Germany. The song is a traditional Yemenite folk song that has been "souped up" to become as groovy and funky as it can be...and it is. The whole album grooves with great songs. "Eshal" and "Da' Ale Da' Ale" are particularly memorable faster paced tunes. There are several outstanding slower paced compositions as well: "My Aching Heart," and "Face to Face." Ofra Haza often ends each album with a beautiful, somber song, and here it is "Shaday." The wonderful melody in this outstanding title track is infused with the sounds of traditional middle eastern instruments, and it is hauntingly beautiful and memorable. Shaday is one of Ofra Haza's best and most representative efforts. For anyone new to her music, this is the CD to buy first. Most of the lyrics on Shaday are sung in English. After listening to Shaday, you will be wanting to hear and buy her other CD's too. She has many CD's as good or almost as good as Shaday. You will not find any female pop/rock vocalist who has a better voice than Ofra Haza. Almost all of her music, no matter what year it was made, always sounds fresh, not dated, and stands up to the test of time. This is the test of true art. Her songs and albums stand with the best of the best."
What other vocalists aspire to...
crosenbe | 11/03/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're new to Ofra, pick this CD as a good sampler. The songs alternate between the disco-y pop that is so mystifyingly popular overseas (thus the weak Madonna comparisons), to the gorgeous, soaring, native "Love Song" or the inspired "Shaday." Her voice, whatever the genre, will give you chills. The only complaint is that you may have danced to better mixes than those included here, but it's still a classic."
Beautiful voice, moving songs, great beats
Music-Loving College Student | Ohio, USA | 04/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first discovered Ofra Haza as a kid while rummaging through my mom's extensive cd collection on a rainy day. I saw "Shaday" and the beautiful, mystical-looking cover and decided to play it and see what it was all about. Boy, am I glad! Before the first song, Im Nin Alu, was even over, I was captivated. I listened to the cd over and over and over again, enraptured by Ofra's haunting vocals. Her voice is pure beyond belief, full of passion, and goes soaring into great heights with a beautiful trill. Her charming Israeli accent creates a sense of ethnicity and beautiful foreigness. I am a fan of 80's music, I admit, but Shaday, and all of Ofra's albums, stand out from the pack. Her magnificent voice, which can be compared to none other, combined with Middle-Eastern intruments, tunes, and flair, in addition to the dance beats (such as on Im Nin Alu and Galbi) create a unique sound that has aged well. I have looked, and to my dismay, have found no other artist that sounds quite like Ofra Haza. Even though she is no longer with us, her music, spirituality, and stance for peace will carry on."