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World Music - Yemenite Women Songs

Yemen and Africa are separated by sea. A sea of prayer, passion, dance, love and longing for freedom. Four artists come together and continue the natural evolution of Yemenite Women songs. Instinctive and mystical texts that have passed for centuries from mother to daughter acquire a modern and contemporary meaning in a special instrumental composition. The combination of traditional Saharan strings, cello and acoustic guitars, and the fact that these songs are sang for the first time by a man - creates a unique soundtrack that takes the listener into the deep world of the women in Yemen. Igal Mizrahi, whose father is of Yemenite origin and mother of Moroccan descent, born in Algeria, was exposed in his life to the hidden and fascinating world of Yemenite Women, and has spent years studying their traditional songs and texts.

Biography

Yemen and Africa are separated by sea.Gulaza is an expression of that sea - a sea of despair, prayer, passion, dance, love and longing for freedom.
The concept of “Gulaza” was born when Igal Mizrahi and Ben Aylon joined to create a duet between an ancient yemenite song and the sound of the african N’goni, as a part of a concert in a famous festival in Europe.

Igal, whose father is of Yemenite origin and mother of Moroccan descent, born in Algeria, was exposed in his life to the hidden and fascinating world of Yemenite Women, and has spent years studying their traditional songs and texts that expresses the marginalised life in the Yemenite society. These songs were told as secrets and have been preserved for generations from word of mouth, from mother to daughter.

Ben, who explored the African culture and studied in West Africa with the greatest artists and local musicians understood the deep connection that exists between the cultures and joined Igal to a journey throughout the fascinating musical world of women in Yemen.

Together they began working on songs collected by Igal for years both from childhood memories and personal meetings with old Yemenite women. The starting point of the creative process was influenced by the Yemenite Jewish tradition, that used singing and drumming alone, as since the destruction of the Holy Temple it was forbidden to use musical instruments as a sign of mourning.

During their creation came the desire to expand the statement to a more universal one, and they began to look for more instruments. Ian Aylon, a guitarist specializing in South American folklore, jazz and classical guitar, joined as he added the harmonic part and complements the natural connection between Igal’s voice and the rhythms and N’goni playing of Ben. Leat Sabbah, brought the classical world with the cello, adding bass, warmth and tenderness into the music of "Gulaza".

In 2016, Gulaza toured internationally in: Austria, China, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and Israel. 
They have performed at festivals such as: Tres Culturas Murcia, Shanghai World Music Festival, Oct-Loft Jazz Festival Shenzhen, EthnoKrakow, Mikser Festival Belgrade, Sacred Music Festival Jerusalem, Copenhagen World Music Festival, Mazal Tov Festival (Kosice), BOSKOVICE Festival and the Suzanne Dellal Center TLV.

In 2017, Gulaza has been on a widely-acclaimed tour in: Poland, Germany, Norway, Faroe Islands, Denmark, Austria, China and Israel.  Among some of the festivals are; Rudolstadt Festival, Yiddish Summer Weimar, EthnoKrakow, Klezmore Festival Vienna, Telemark International Folk Music Festival, Nordic House Tórshavn (Faroe Islands), Copenhagen World Music Festival, Shanghai World Music Festival, Gulaza & Ranaana Symphonette Orchestra, Habima National Theater TLV and the International Music Showcase Jerusalem.

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The Story Behind The Songs

​In July 2013, 11 year old Nada Al-Ahdal from Yemen, revealed the story of the Yemenite women and shared it with the world through all social networks, and with great courage avoided of getting married by force to a rich Saudi man.

The Woman in Yemen was and still is married from childhood (11-15 years old) to a man she doesn't even know, sometimes as a second or third wife, she is forced to leave her home and family and travels a long distance to an unknown destination without the possibility of seeing her family again. The Women's lyrics and songs (in Arabic) are considered as Folk music that have passed from mother to daughter for centuries, allowing them to escape the everyday hard life and create a spiritual-inner world of freedom and expression.

The singing is of an improvisational character, and exists in their everyday work and household tasks such as: flour grinding, laundry, cooking, basket weaving and most importantly at the "Hena" ceremony when the women in separated from her family.

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