WKAR Features
10:06 am
Wed May 5, 2010

Jewish Israeli singer Noa shares the stage with Arab Israeli vocalist Mira Awad

EAST LANSING, MI –

One of Israel's most popular female singers will appear at the Wharton Center tonight.

She's an Israeli Jew who goes by the single name of Noa. On her current tour, she's sharing the stage with Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad.

WKAR's Scott Pohl spoke with both Noa and Mira Awad about their musical and political collaboration.

AUDIO: Noa was born in Tel Aviv, but she grew up in New York City. Along with her Israeli and American roots, she also was influenced by her Yemenite parents. Her music appeared in the James Bond film "Goldeneye", and she wrote the lyrics for the theme to the Oscar-winning "Life is Beautiful".

Noa says her connection with Mira Awad can be attributed to having had similar musical influences, despite their cultural differences.

"Both of us are very deeply inspired by the singer-songwriters of the 60s," Noa explains, "like Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Paul Simon. Mira, when she plays and sings, I always think that she sounds like an Arabic Joan Baez. It's very, very beautiful, what she does. And then, we have our duets together. We sing together in three languages: English, Hebrew, and Arabic, and that's the show. That's what people are in for."

FIRST DUET ALMOST TEN YEARS AGO

In 2001, already a star in Israel, Noa wanted a partner for a duet on the Beatles song "We Can Work It Out". That's when she first reached out to Mira Awad. Flattered by the opportunity to sing with Noa, Awad accepted, and she says there was an instant connection.

"We really enjoy the company of each other on stage," Awad says. "Our voices complement each other the way that I never encountered before. And, of course, we connect on the philosophical and spiritual and idealistic level, which is even more important when you want to keep a friendship going on, because something's deeper there."

Awad says Israeli Palestinians are exposed to a lot of music rooted in the nation's Jewish society, but the reverse doesn't happen as much. She hopes that her work with Noa will change that.

"We have little means of broadcasting our own stuff," explains Awad. "I mean, we have one radio that is nationwide, only one radio, and there are slots on the TV that allow some programs and some stuff in Arabic, but it's very limited. So, yes, even if they wanted to, they have to really, really look for it in order to be exposed to our culture."

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST WAS PIVOTAL

Their biggest project to date was jointly representing Israel in the hugely popular Eurovision song contest, televised to millions of viewers around the world. The song "There Must Be Another Way" has a lyric that Noa finds particularly poignant.

"When I cry, I cry for both of us," Noa quotes from the song. "My pain has no name. When I cry, I cry to the merciless sky and say there must be another way. And this is what we believe, both of us. We believe that only if we share each other's pain, if we feel true empathy towards each other and reach out, can we find a solution to our problems."

Tonight's Noa concert with Mira Awad will begin at 7:30 at the Wharton Center's Great Hall.