the complex tangle of Sephardi-Ashkenazi relationships, Zehava Ben
comes off as something of a unique figure
Ben is arguably the most popular female vocalist in the Mizrahi
genre, one of the main practitioners of the "Turkish" style
of singing which has come to dominate Oriental music in the '90s.
At the same time, she has begun to win over substantial audiences
among Ashkenazi music lovers, a phenomenon which one might trace
back to the last elections when Ben and Dana Berger performed for
Meretz campaign spots.
The Mizrahi sound comes out most clearly with Ben's singing style.
Her voice is, to put it mildly, a bit of an acquired taste. New listeners
may initially be put off by her trilling and ululating. Her vocals,
however, are quite soulful and add a new dimension to these tunes.
Ben recently recorded a second version of "Forbidden Love" in
Arabic. In addition to her Mizrahi records, Ben has explored Arabic
music extensively, working with the Haifa Orchestra in the past on
songs of Om Kolthom. All this has made her quite popular with the
Arab-Israeli and Palestinian sectors as well.
As the different groups in the country drift into acrimony and finger-pointing,
Ben becomes one of the few singers that most people can agree on.
At this rate, she may end up the region's biggest star.