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Group Members: Ishtar
All Music Guide:
World peace and intercultural relationships provide the theme for the songs of the Paris-based group Alabina, led by vocalist Ishtar. Combining the musical traditions of the Middle East with the virtuosic rhythms of Flamenco, Alabina's albums have been a cultural exchange involving Ishtar and her band, Los Niños de Sara, a group of four gypsy musicians from the south of France who previously accompanied Manitas de Plata and Paco de Lucia.
The daughter of an Egyptian mother and a Maroccan father of Spanish extraction, Ishtar was raised in Israel. Inheriting her love of music from her grandmother, a popular Egyptian singer, she began her musical career as a teen. By age 17, she was already singing in Israeli nightclubs and acting in theatrical productions. The following year, she enlisted in the Israeli army and became one of the country's first female jet fighter airplane mechanics.
Leaving Israel at age 24, Ishtar performed for a brief period in Austrian nightclubs before settling in Paris. In 1996, Jewish-French record producer Charles Ivgi asked her to perform a updated version of a Mideastern song, "Yallbina." Her recording of the song, which was renamed "Alabina," became an international dance hit.
Alabina is a French-based group that performs a mix of world music: Middle Eastern, Arabic, French, Hebrew, and Spanish Gypsy music. Alabina consists of lead singer Ishtar, who does the female vocals, and the band Los Niños de Sara, who provide male vocals and music.
Although the name of the group is often written "Alabína", the accent on the "i" is an unnecessary addition. The mistake may be attributed to the group's use of the font Papyrus on its album covers. In this font, dotted i's look as though they carry accents.
According to Alabina.org, the word is Arabic and Alabina has two meanings: "let's go" and "God is between us." The name comes from the title of Alabina's first song. It is also the name of the group's first album.
Alabina consists of lead singer Ishtar, who does the female vocals, and the band Los Niños de Sara, who provide male vocals and music.
IshtarMain article: Ishtar (singer)
Ishtar was born and raised in Israel. Her parents are Jewish from Moroccan and Egyptian descent. She speaks and sings in Arabic, Hebrew, French, Spanish, and English; she also says she "half-speaks" "Moroccan." Ishtar began performing in clubs at age 15 and continued even in the Israeli army, where she served as an helicopter technician. Though she was born Eti Zach, she chose the name "Ishtar," a Mesopotamian goddess, because her grandmother called her Ester, which "with her Egyptian accent it sounded like Ishtar," she said.
As the lead singer of Alabina, Ishtar frequently sings in Arabic, complementing the Spanish of Los Niños de Sara. She often sings Arabic-style, with a wavering voice and trilling. She also sings Hebrew songs, sometimes songs from her childhood, only alone, however — not with Alabina. Occasionally she joins Los Niños in Spanish. On her own, she frequently sings French. Nine out of twelve songs in her album The Voice of Alabina are in French — and she has two songs in English: "C'Est La Vie My Baby" (Truly (Emet)) and "Last Kiss" (The Voice of Alabina).
Ishtar is frequently featured on Alabina album covers. She has dyed blond hair, which is sometimes curly, and dark brown eyes. She has been noted for her provocative dress in pictures and at concerts.
On her own, Ishtar has produced three albums: The Voice of Alabina (2000), Truly (Emet) (2003) and Je sais d'où je viens (2005). The first is mainly composed of French songs, the second is mostly in Hebrew, and Ishtar's last album is primarily in Arabic, with four songs in French, one in Spanish and significant chunks of English dispersed throughout.
Ishtar currently lives in France but has also a home located at the city of Eilat in Israel.
Los Niños de SaraMain article: Los Niños de Sara
Los Niños de Sara (in Spanish, "Sara's children") are Spanish-speaking Gypsies from Montpellier, France. The four cousins are named Antonio ("Tonio") (also written Antoine) Contreras, Ramón Compas, Santiago ("Santi") Lorente, and Coco. Though they speak both Spanish and French, they only sing in their native Spanish. Tonio, the lead male singer, plays guitar. In addition to all providing back-up vocals, Ramón and Santi play guitar and Coco plays percussion.
On their own, Los Niños have produced two CDs: La Cubanita (2001) and Gipsyolé (2003). Their songs often speak of family, love, and God. Los Niños are Catholic.
Their birthdays are: Tonio, March 27; Ramón, January 7; Santi, September 4; and Coco, September 5.
They currently live in France.
Alabina's music mixes many styles, cultures, and languages: Middle Eastern, Spanish music, French, raï, flamenco, gypsy, Arabic, and at times, Western pop. The group often takes older songs, for example, "Habibi Ya Nour El Ain" the Arabic song of Amr Diab, and adds a mix of styles and languages and Alabina's own flavor. The new version, "Habibi de Mis Amores" in both Arabic and Spanish, is one example. Another example is "Lolole (Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood)", which Alabina turned into an upbeat Arabic-Spanish song, which though it can be recognized from the melody, is far from its original: a Western pop song in English. Habibi Ya Nour El Ain performed by Albina, Ishtar (singer) was used in a bollywood movie Agent Vinod (2012 film) scene background when Agent Vinod and Freddie Khambatta are seen walking out of Morocco Airport. However their song was not credited by the producers of Agent Vinod (2012 film). The song "Alabina" is well known in France for being the end credits music in the French comedies La Vérité si je mens! and La Vérité si je mens! 2. Their single "Ole y ola" reached number 19 on the French music charts in 1997 and was certified silver. The single "Alabina" spent 21 weeks on the charts, peaking at 29."Hits of the World". Billboard (SNEP/IFOP/Tite-Live). 11 October 1997. |accessdate= requires |url= (help) "Classement Singles - année 1997" (in French). Disque en France.com. Archived from the original on 27 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-17. "89 - ALABINA OLE Y OLA - SONY ATOLL" "ALABINA FEAT. ISHTAR - ALABINA (CHANSON)" (in French). Lescharts.com. Retrieved 2009-06-17.