A catchy old folk song got turned into an electronic dance number, and that was all it took. After more than two and a half million YouTube hits, an unlikely phenomenon emerged in the past year as three Yemenite sisters calling themselves A-Wa (Arabic slang for “yeah”) scored an international hit with “Habib Galbi.”
Tair, Tagel, and Liron Haim will co-headline this year’s Atlanta Jewish Music Festival on March 26 and will be joined onstage by Hod Mushonov on keyboards, Yogev Glosman on bass, and Amir Bresler on drums.
The sisters come from the village of Sharahut in southern Israel’s Negev desert, and sing in English, Hebrew, Arabic, and Yemenite languages. Though absent on the night, a big influence on the proceedings will be Tomer Yosef, vocalist for the Israeli-American electronica-world fusion band Balkan Beat Box. Yosef produced the syncopated hit single for A-Wa and directed the much-viewed and infectious video that accompanies it.
The Atlanta Jewish Times tried without success to contact members of the trio for comment, but festival head Russell Gottschalk told us they were booked for the event because of their “lively, energetic, party-atmosphere music.”
Gottschalk compared A-Wa with co-headliner Jaffa Road by saying the two acts are similar, yet different. “Similar in that they are both doing world music that’s great for dancing, but different in that Jaffa Road is a little more traditional, and A-Wa is bit more progressive,” he said. “A-Wa will have more of an electronica, hip-hop vibe.”
The majority of artists appearing at the AJMF are either local or national, Gottschalk said, and to have international musicians here such as A-Wa and Jaffa Road is a special opportunity for the Atlanta community.
“A-Wa is an incredible group. They’ve become really popular off their music, and their backstory of being this trio of Yemenite Israelis,” he said. “I think it will be great music to party to.”