A-WA (Arabic for Yes) is an Israeli band made up of the three sisters Tair, Liron, and Tagel Haim. Their single "Habib Galbi" (Love of My Heart) became a world hit, with its Yemenite traditional music mixed with hip-hop and electronic music.
A-WA in concert at Barby in Tel Aviv, September 2015.
The Haim sisters grew up in the community settlement of Shaharut, a village of about 30 families in the Arava Valley desert of southern Israel, to a father of Yemenite Jewish origin and a mother of mixed Ukrainian and Moroccan Jewish heritage. Their paternal grandparents are originally from Sana'a and were brought to Israel during Operation Magic Carpet. The Haim sisters spent most of their holidays with their paternal grandparents, singing piyyutim, traditional liturgical poems in Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as traditional Yemenite songs in Arabic sung by women. Tair has a BA in music from Levinsky College of Education in Tel Aviv, while Liron is an architect and Tagel is a graphic designer and illustrator. They also have two younger sisters, Shir and Tzlil, and a brother, Evyatar, who is a soundman and was involved in the production of the album Habib Galbi.
They were discovered by Tomer Yosef, the lead singer of Balkan Beat Box, to whom they sent a demo of "Habib Galbi", a traditional Yemenite melody sung in the Yemenite dialect of Judeo-Arabic. He showed the demo to a few elder Yemenite women, who mistook the sisters for actual singers from Yemen. The music video went viral in the Muslim World, especially in their grandparents' Yemenite motherland, and became the first ever song in Arabic to hit No. 1 on the Israeli pop charts.
A-WA have released two studio albums to date, Habib Galbi (2016) and Bayti Fi Rasi (2019).
During their childhood, the three sisters listened to many different kinds of music, such as Greek and Yemenite music, Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop, Reggae, Progressive rock, and more, but their major source of inspiration has been the traditional Yemenite songs at their paternal grandparents' home. Their music follows the same trend as did Ofra Haza, their main inspiration, decades ago, mixing in this case traditional Yemenite folk music with electronic tunes, reggae, and hip-hop, which they call "yemenite folk n' beat".
- Habib Galbi (2016)
- Bayti Fi Rasi (2019)
- The Israeli Sisters Whose Music Video is Sweeping Across the Arab World
- A-Wa's Unlikely Journey From Rural Israel to Global Fame. The Forward
- The hip-hop groove of the Yemenite tune. The Times of Israel
- The Other Haim Song-sisters Are Yemenite and Just as Viral. Haaretz
- Israel says A-WA — "Yes!" — to singing Yemeni sisters. Public Radio International
- These singing sisters are wildly popular in Yemen. And they’re Israeli Jews.. The Washington Post
- Sister Act: Shopping With A-Wa. The New York Times
- Meet A-WA, the Israeli Sister Trio Merging Yemenite Folk Songs and Electronic Beats. Vice
- A-WA’s desert groove goes down a storm at South by Southwest festival
- Gehr, Richard A-Wa: The Israeli Trio Turning Yemenite Tradition Into a Global Groove Rolling Stone. July 13, 2016
- A-Wa : trois soeurs entre folk yéménite et rythmes électroniques (in French)