Yardena Arazi, one of Israel’s most famous singers, is back in the musical spotlight. The diva, who ruled Israeli pop during the ‘80s, took a break from recording after her 1995 album “From Loving You” and her 1998 greatest hits collection.
But last month, Arazi released her first CD in nearly a decade, “Od Nagia 2007,” which includes a remix of her hit 1985 song, “Od Nagia” (“We Will Reach It”), produced by Dor Dekel.
Arazi, who turns 56 on September 25, has been a fixture in Israel’s entertainment scene for 34 years. Following her army service, which she spent in the IDF’s Nahal performing troupe, she became part of the Shokolad Menta Mastik singing trio, along with Leah Lupatin and Ruti Holzman. The trio’s biggest hit was “Emor Shalom” (“Say Hello”), which placed sixth at the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest in The Hague.
Arazi continued her love affair with Eurovision after Shokolad Menta Mastik went their separate ways in the late ‘70s. She co-presented the 1979 Eurovision competition in Jerusalem, when the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) hosted it for the first time.
As a solo artist, Arazi participated in the Kdam Eurovision, Israel’s pre-selection contest, in 1982 (with “Musica Nisherret,” second place), 1983 (with “Shiru Shir Amen,” second place), and 1985 (with “Od Nagia,” third place), and co-hosted the 1987 Kdam. Finally, in 1988, the IBA chose Arazi internally to represent Israel, and had her participate in a private Kdam in which Israeli TV viewers chose “Ben-Adam” (“Son of Man”). The song placed seventh in Dublin.
Besides Arazi’s Kdam and Eurovision appearances, her numerous pop hits got her voted Israel’s top female singer from 1984-1988. Her superstar status was boosted by many TV and song festival performances, and by her role as celebrity spokesperson for Bank Leumi. Arazi’s other hit ‘80s songs include “Shuv Batmuna,” “Yesh Venidme,” “Ata Lee Eretz,” “Lo Naatzur,” “Kav Ha-Ahava,” “Agadat Ladila,” “Bati Eleha,” “Hee Rokedet” and “Ha-Baita” (“Come Back Home,” a song written by the late Ehud Manor in 1982 as a protest against the First Lebanon War).
Arazi, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from France and Germany, later co-hosted “Cafe Telad,” a Channel Two morning chat show, from 1997-2005, and has stayed in the public eye. Last year, she contributed a new version of “Ha-Baita” (dedicated to the kidnapped IDF soldiers) for the Israeli music industry compilation “To The North With Love,” and performed at Shoshana Damari’s memorial service.
Arazi also served on the IBA Eurovision committee that selected Teapacks to represent Israel this year in Helsinki (she lashed out at fellow committee member, Channel Nine news anchor Anastasia Michaeli, after she said Israel’s Eurovision representative should not have “an Arab look”).
Today, Arazi – who has a 21-year-old daughter with her husband, engineer Natan Tomer – is focused on a musical comeback, with a new CD, website, and MySpace profile.