Three Jewish sisters have made pop history by topping the Israeli charts with a song written entirely in Arabic.
A Wa – made up of sisters Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim – have won plaudits for love song Habib Galbi, which has garnered over one million hits on YouTube.
The trio, who grew up in an isolated village near the Israeli-Egyptian border, sing in the Yemeni dialect of their Jewish grandparents – who they cite as a major influence on their work.
Tair, the oldest of the three, said their hit was based on the folk songs of Jewish women in the Yemen.
She told the Jerusalem Post: “They couldn’t read or write, and they weren’t allowed to participate in the synagogue ceremonies, so they just invented their own songs and basically the folklore.”
The group’s unique style combines the folk music and authentic dress of their ancestors with modern influences and has seen them transcend the sectarian divides of the middle east.
A Wa – whose name means ‘Yes’ in Arabic – now boast legions of fans in Egypt, Jordan and Yemen, and Haim says the group owe part of their success to “not hiding” their Israeli roots.
She said: “We don’t hide it… it’s written on our posters. It’s Yemeni music, and we tell people how our grandparents emigrated to Israel from Yemen.”
The band are now looking to capitalise upon their success with a second album – and hope to collaborate with artists from the Arab world.