A-WA Release Worldwide Hit "Habib Galbi"

March 7, 2015

Cover of Israeli band A-WA's album "Bayti Fi Rasi," 2019.

On March 7, 2015, the all-female Lit. "Eastern." Jew from Arab or Muslim country.Mizrahi Jewish band, A-WA, released its first song “Habib Galbi” (“Love of My Heart”), a modern take on a Yemeni folk song of the same name. The track, which weaves Hip Hop and electronic elements with traditional Yemeni Arabic poetry lyrics, became a worldwide hit, amassing nearly 17 million views on YouTube [1] since its release and gaining particular popularity in Yemen and other Arab countries. “Habib Galbi” made NPR’s list of top ten global music picks from 2015, as well as its 2018 list of top 200 songs by 21st-century women+.

A-WA (meaning “yes” in Arabic slang) is made up of three sisters: Tair Haim, born May 9, 1983; Liron Haim, born July 3, 1985; and Tagel Haim, born June 6, 1989. The Haim sisters grew up in Shaharut, a small settlement of about 30 families in Israel’s Arava valley, close to the border with Egypt. Their father encouraged their musical talents from an early age, filming them singing on home videos. After all three sisters had finished college, they formed a band and began writing and sharing songs on YouTube. They collaborated with Yemeni-Israeli music producer Tomer Yosef on their debut album “Habib Galbi,” which includes the titular hit song.

The sisters, who are of Yemeni, Moroccan, and Ukrainian Jewish descent, draw inspiration from their great grandmother, Rachel, who fled from Yemen to Israel in 1949 as part of Operation Magic Carpet. The operation, organized by the Israeli government and supported by the United States and United Kingdom, saw 47,000 Yemeni Jews airlifted to Israel to escape persecution. The songs on A-WA’s 2019 album “Bayti Fi Rasi” are sung from Rachel’s perspective, exploring her experience arriving in Israel as a refugee and being placed in a transition camp. As Tair Haim explained in a 2019 NPR interview, “She was a feminist before she even knew what a feminist is … She was so strong. Her journey was so courageous and she didn't have any help from anyone. But thanks to her, we are a generation born in Israel and our future and our present are better. We have a better life.”

In sharing their great grandmother’s story, the Haim sisters hope to highlight Yemenite Jewish culture while drawing attention to the modern-day refugee crisis. In the same NPR interview, Liron Haim emphasized that, while “It's a story about one woman … it's actually a story of so many other refugees around the world. So, for us, it's a story that we wanted to tell for years.” The sisters also hope to mend Jewish-Arab relations by celebrating their shared culture and traditions.

Sources:

A-WA. “Bio.” Accessed February 17, 2022. https://www.a-wamusic.com/bio

Eglash, Ruth. “These singing sisters are wildly popular in Yemen. And they’re Israeli Jews.” Washington Post, December 31, 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/these-singing-sisters-…

Gehr, Richard. “A-Wa: The Israeli Trio Turning Yemenite Tradition Into a Global Groove.” Rolling Stone, July 7, 2016. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/a-wa-the-israeli-trio…

Lonsdorf, Kat, and Ari Shapiro. “The Sisters Of A-WA 'Want To Bring Something New' To Yemen's Musical Traditions.” NPR, September 3, 2019. https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757205275/the-sisters-of-a-wa-want-to-br…

Mapcarta. “Shaharut.” Accessed February 17, 2022.           https://mapcarta.com/29019122

Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands and from Iran.” Accessed February 17, 2022. https://www.gov.il/en/Departments/General/jewish-refugees-expelled-from…

NPR Music. “The 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women+.” Music Features. Accessed February 17, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2018/07/30/627396303/turning-the-tables-the-200-gre…

Tsioulcas, Anastasia. “Latitudes: 10 Favorite Global Music Picks From 2015.” The Best Music of 2015. Accessed February 17, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2015/12/19/460109943/latitudes-10-favorite-global-m…

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They are an amazing,I had a chance to go to one of the show in u.s.a

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Jewish Women's Archive. "A-WA Release Worldwide Hit "Habib Galbi"." (Viewed on April 13, 2024) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/mar/07/2015/wa-release-worldwide-hit-habib-galbi>.