Born in 1923 in the city of Damar in Yemen, Shoshana Damari, diva of Israeli popular song and an Israel Prize laureate, came to Israel at the age of two.
She began her long musical career as a young child, accompanying her mother, who sang at functions. Damari left her parents' home at age 13 and moved to Tel Aviv, where she met her manager Shlomo Bushmi. The two married three years later.
That same year, 1949, Damari launched a solo musical act at the Li-La-Lo Theater and became a permanent cast member at the theater. One of the numbers written for the theater by poet Natan Alterman and composed by Shlomo Wilenski, Kalaniot (anemones) became her trademark song over the years.
Damari's artistic collaboration with Alterman and Wilenski yielded countless songs that became a staple of Israeli music, including Layla Layla (nighty night), Ani Metzfat (I'm from Safed) and Ze Ya'avor (It'll pass). Hayu Zmanim (the old days) and Tzarich letzaltzel pa'amayim (you should knock twice) are two more of her most famous songs.
Damari released her first album in 1948, and its songs were closely identified with the War of Independence that broke out that same year. Damari left to perform in the U.S. for the first time in the 1950s and over the next two decades divided her time between Israel and the States.
She returned to the stage in the late 1980s after almost twenty years' absence and released her best-selling album Orr (light) in 1988.
That same year Damari became an Israel Prize Laureate. In 2001 Israel's leading performing artists held a tribute concert for her.
She will be buried in Tel Aviv on Friday. Her coffin will be displayed at the New Cameri Theatre Arts Centre in Tel Aviv prior to the funeral procession.
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