Zefira, Beracha

Israeli singer. Her groundbreaking synthesis of western and oriental elements of music came to epitomize the new Israeli, a person merged from various backgrounds of both eastern and western elements. Born into a Yemenite family, around 1911 (although the date is not sure), her mother died at child birth, her father when she around 3. She was moved around to various foster homes, all of different ethnic backgrounds. In 1924 she went to Shpheia, a school with European teachers. She was trained in western music. She won a scholarlhip to study acting in Berlin in 1929. There she met the pianist Nachum Nardi and partnered with him in an “oriental” repertoire. They toured in Europe, and then in 1930, in Palestine to critical acclaim. She had western composers make arrangements of Oriental songs, and performed them widely. By the 1950s her “ethnic-fusion” was out of popularity. An excellent study of various musical elements of Beracha Zefira’s music, written by Gila Flam, appeared in Asian Music, 1986, vol. 17, No. 2.