A music video on YouTube sped from the Israeli desert to Yemen and through the Middle East. Its stars, sisters Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim (not to be confused with L.A.’s three-sister rock band Haim) became immediate celebrities.
Going by the name A-WA (pronounced Ay-wa, Arabic for “yes”), the young women sing in Arabic, wear bright pink dresses and head scarves, and tear through the desert in a Yemeni jeep. Then they dance-battle three guys (potential suitors?) wearing matching blue Adidas tracksuits. “Habib Galbi,” viewed over 500,000 times in the first two weeks of its release, layers Yemenite melodies over hip-hop beats, creating a danceable fusion of Middle Eastern musical traditions.
Descendants of Yemeni immigrants on their father’s side, the Haim sisters grew up in a small desert village in the Arava Valley in southern Israel and fell in love with their grandparents’ Yemeni-Arabic music, sung by women for generations. It’s no wonder A-WA has been gaining popularity in the Arab world, even getting posted on the “Mipsterz” (Arab Hipsters) Facebook page. We’re counting down to the release of their debut album.
From Avishay Artsy, “The Israeli Sisters Whose Music Video is Sweeping Across the Arab World,” thejewniverse.com, March 23, 2015.