…If we can spread the message through music it’d be a great success, because our message is one about peace and love. The music breaks down all the barriers. You can sing today with Gypsies, tomorrow with Arabs. Music doesn’t have a religion. It really warms my heart when I see at one concert all types of people: Arabs, Jews, Christians, all kinds of religions, colors, there is no racism, no differences among cultures and religions. These distinctions are just not important in music”,

                                                                                                                                  Eti Zach

Blending the Mediterranean strains of Flamenco with sensual Arabic harmonies, Ishtar Alabina has created a unique musical blend one might call ’the Rumba from the Desert.  Her music makes your blood boil, your heart sing, your belly catch the rousing tune and dance, dance and dance!!!

I ran into the creative work of this unique Desert Flower incidentally, listening to the songs by Ofra Haza, a worldfamous talented Israeli singer.  Ishtar made a pop/ethno mix of Ofra’s song “Le Orech ha’yam”, “Along the sea”, the song narrating about Israeli reality being far from peaceful. Her voice seemed to reflect the soul pain for the imperfectness of the world we’re living in (“Tagid li eifo esh olam aher lihiet – Tell me where there is another world to live in…). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Criwph9D544

תגיד לי איך לעצור את הדמעות
תגיד לי איפה יש עולם אחר לחיות
תגיד לי למה אין אמת רק הזיות
אז למה לנסות ולהמשיך עכשיו לבכות

Tell me how to stop the tears
Tell me where there’s another world to live in
Tell me why there is no truth, only illusions
So why should we try, and continue crying?

לאורך הים
אין גלים יש עולם
שנשבר לרסיסים על המזח

Along the length of the sea
There are no waves; there is a world
Broken into fragments on the pier

תגיד לי איך לעצור את הד
תגיד לי איפה יש עולם אחר לחיות
כשאנשים רצים אל תופת כמו אל ים
אני ארוץ אל תוך האש אם יחזרו משם

Tell me how to stop the tears
Tell me where there’s another world to live in
When people run into an inferno as if into the sea
I would run into the fire,

If only they would return from there

תגיד לי איך עם המוות אתה חי
מסתיר הדמעות בכל לילה תגיד לי עד מתי
האש שקוראת לי לא נמצאת שם באמת
וזה שנעלם, האם יחזור או כבר מת?!.
Tell me how you live with death
Hiding the tears every night -
Tell me, how much longer?
The fire that calls me
Is not really there
And the one who disappeared,
Will he return, or is he already dead?

תגיד לי איך לעצור את הדמעות
תגיד לי איך…
Tell me how to stop the tears
Tell me how…..

She captured me with the sincerity of the feelings, with the pathos of the lyrics.  “Unique is the person, having such a capacity of transferring her soul energy into music, making people sing and cry, dance and rejoice”,- I thought going absorbed into the inexhaustible source of information – the Internet.

Eti Zach (Ishtar) – was born in Israel, near Haïfa, on 10 November 1968. Jewish by birth, Eti and her sister were cultivated in a multicultural atmosphere. Raised by an Egyptian mother and a father with Spanish and Moroccan roots, the girls spoke Arabic at home but learned Hebrew at school. They were surrounded by music from an early age as their grandmother Nora, the famous Egyptian singer, and their father a talented musician fostered in them  love for music. Eti absolutely inherited the Zach family’s musical talent and began singing professionally at the age of 15. She got her stage name from her grandmother who named her Ishtar after the ancient Asian goddess of fertility.

Like other Israeli teenagers (of both sexes), Eti began her military service at the age of 18 and spent two years in the army. Then, continuing with Israeli teenage tradition, she spent the following year travelling. Eti visited a number of countries including Australia and boosted her travelling funds by performing in local clubs. The girl’s vocal talent and passion for music, not to mention her stage charisma, grace, sexual charm  and inflammatory effect she produces on everyone, made her concerts a worldwide euphoria.

For Ishtar, music is the form of creative being, where the language doesn’t have a nationality, tunes have no religious affiliation. There is no inequality:

“ …If we can spread the message through music it’d be a great success, because our message is one about peace and love. The music breaks down all the barriers. You can sing today with gypsies, tomorrow with Arabs. Music doesn’t have a religion. It really warms my heart when I see at one concert all types of people: Arabs, Jews, Christians, all kinds of religions, colors, there is no racism, no differences among cultures and religions. These distinctions are just not important in music”, – says Ishtar.

Her visit to France on the way back to Israel proved to be a turning-point in her personal life and career, for Eti fell in love with France and decided to make it her home. The  career of 24-year-old artist went dramatically up after producer Charles Ibgui of Moroccan origins came to see her in concert. Impressed by Ishtar’s extraordinary voice, Ibgui introduced her to Los Ninos, a Gypsy music band from Montpellier.

They ascended on the international music scene under the name of ALABINA – 4 stirring Gypsies and the Queen of the Middle East. Soon their ‘Oriental pop’ fusion  was crossing linguistic and geographical borders and shooting up charts around the world.

“ The name Alabina means both “Come to me!”(like come and dance) , and “between us is God”- the two meanings together capture the spirit of the group, – explains Eti. -  The idea for this multicultural mix of middle eastern music, flamenco, gypsy and dance music, and the mix of musicians in the band (Arabs, Jews, Gypsies and Europeans) belongs to Charles, our producer, who is from Morocco and who is also the head of our label, Atoll records.”

Alabina is one of those few bands, playing totally live, with no accompanying recorded tracks.

“We want to be true to the music, – clarifies Eti , –  and you’re not being true to the spirit of both the flamenco/Gypsy and Middle Eastern/Arabic tradition when you play along to recorded tracks. It takes away any chance of spontaneity. Also, we want people to come up and dance. This is the reason why the music really has to be live.”

Alabina’s debut album “The Album” – a name which spoke volumes about the group’s international ambitions – came out in 1996 and scored an instant hit with music fans worldwide. “The Album” went on to sell over 200,000 copies (including 70,000 in the US, 35,000 in Spain, 25,000 in Italy and 20,000 in Israel). Ishtar’s album even scored a huge hit in Armenia – a country where international releases usually make only the slightest of impacts! The singles, “Alabina”, “Ole y Ola” and “Habibi de mis amores” followed the same trajectory to success, selling over 150,000 copies apiece.

Relaxed, enthusiastic and exuberant on the stage, Ishtar and her group established an excellent reputation on the live scene, performing extensive tours. In 2000 Ishtar went solo and made her own album.  She also gave a private concert for the Moroccan royal family later that year.

The most astonishing thing about her concerts is that  the only thing which matters here is music. Politics is bullshit in the world of music. Here Arab fellows are singing and dancing next to Israeli folks, it’s going on in the Central park in New York with excited Americans  and inspired Europeans around.

“Look, I’m Israeli, – says Ishtar to the interviewer, – I’ve never tried to hide that, even when I’m in Arab countries. But it’s an important statement to make that there is another Israel (different from the political one). It’s a small country with a big mix of cultures; they are longing for peace and it willcome, it has to come. I hope that one day there will be peace between the politicians too, and the title of tonight ‘s show would be “World Music for Peace.” I’m for peace and no differences among people. Life it too short  and people need to learn living together.”

What are we living for? It’s a good question, isn’t it? Is there anything more valuable than a smile of your child, the health of your parents, the harmony in your inner self . It’s possible only in the society where peace is appreciated more than whatever. I am for the music which transcends religious and political conflicts, appealing to peace and joy. I’m for life! What about you?

The bio facts were taken from the official webpage of Ishtar Alabina http://www.ishtaralabina.net/index.php

Join the musical  euphoria  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAq7HiEtFdI&feature=related