Ofra Haza on World AIDS Day 2018

Women are often neglected when we talk about HIV, AIDS and prevention. #HIV #AIDS #WAD2018

As I have done for the previous three years for my annual World AIDS Day programs, I have attempted to spotlight an artist that tends to be overlooked when we talk about the disease and prevention. Much of this has to do with the impact of Western media. In the U.S. and in many Western European countries, gay, middle class, English-speaking white men were often the largest group afflicted. 

We know now, and have for many years, that statistically, this group is small when we talk about the disease. We have know that the vast majority of people who are infected and have died from HIV/AIDS are people of color, poor in terms of monetary worth by capitalist standards, heterosexual and in what is often called “the developing world” or in areas that are less economically advanced. 

Ofra Haza, 1988. Photo courtesy of Aharon Amram, Art director. 

Case in point: Ofra Haza. Born in poverty to Jewish immigrants from Yemen in an impoverished area, the Hatikva Quarter of Tel Aviv, Israel, she became what was often referred to as the “Madonna of the Middle East”. Her adult professional recording career began after her mandatory military service in 1979, required of all Israeli citizens who are physically able to do so, with music and subjects that were often deemed inappropriate for women to sing about. Regardless, she became a star in her homeland and in the Middle East, singing not just in Hebrew, but also in Arabic, English and Aramaic, which was the language Jesus spoke.

Her breakthrough came in 1988 with the album Shaday, eventually finding a distributor in North America via Sire/Warner Brothers. The album sold well not just in world music circles, but spawned several major dance and club smashes. Interestingly, she also became a part of Hip-Hop and Electronic Dance music history, as one of her tracks, “Im Nin’alu”, was sampled on Eric B. and Rakim’s “Paid In Full” top-selling remix and the stone cold dance classic “Pump Up The Volume” by M/A/R/R/S.

The character Yocheved from the film The Prince of Egypt, drawn in the likeness of Ofra Haza. She also sang the character’s song “Deliver Us”, which she recorded into 17 different languages.

Sadly, after becoming an established international artist, even performing on the Dreamworks soundtrack to The Prince of Egypt and having her likeness made into one of the animated film’s characters, she contracted HIV. In 2000, at the age of 42, she died from HIV-related pneumonia, never publicly disclosing her status. Silencing of self due to the stigma that surrounds HIV disease is common worldwide for women, and overcoming this barrier has only recently begun to become a focus on prevention and wellness.

For this program’s longtime fans, there are a couple of firsts here. This will be our first artist from Israel our first artist who sang primarily in Hebrew.

First Part

  • Da’ale Da’ale
  • Galbi (The Sehoog Mix)
  • Amore
  • Mysterious Days (Sarah Brightman with Ofra Haza)
  • Im Nin’ Alu
  • Ode Le-Eli

Second Part

  • Rachamim
  • Deliver Us (from The Prince of Egypt) (Ofra Haza Feat. Eden Riegel)
  • You
  • Don’t Forsake Me
  • Ash’alech


  • Take 7/8
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Fight AIDS. Not people with AIDS.

And, to our Jewish listeners, Happy Chanukah starting tomorrow.

Love to you all.

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner

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