The Queen of Hebrew Music
Stand for Israel | March 27, 2023
A Yemeni-born Israeli singer, Shoshana Damari became known as the “Queen of Hebrew Music.”
Born to a Jewish family in Dhamar, Yemen, Shoshana Damari made aliyah with her family because of growing anti-Semitic persecution, settling in Rishon Lezion, Israel.
From a young age, Shoshana showed musical talent, playing drums and singing along with her mother, who performed at celebrations and gatherings of the Yemenite Jewish community in then-British-mandate Palestine. At 14, Shoshana’s first songs were played on the radio. She began studying acting and singing at the Shulamit Studio in Tel Aviv, where she met Shlomo Bosmi, who would become her husband and manager.
In 1945, Shoshana joined Li-La-Lo, an Israeli revue theater. She became known for her husky voice and Yemenite accent. Her first record was released in 1948, along with her best-known song, “Kalaniyot,” which you can listen to above. “Kalaniyot” means “anemones” in Hebrew, and the song is about a young girl gathering the beautiful flowers in the Holy Land.
Shoshana was especially popular with IDF soldiers, for whom she frequently performed. After Israel won its independence, she also embarked on an international career, singing in the United States, France, England, South Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Canada, Scandinavia, and Japan. She was beloved by audiences both in Israel and abroad, earning the title of “First Lady of Israeli Song,” and in 1988 received the Israel Prize for Hebrew song.
Shoshana Damari passed away at the age of 82 after a bout of pneumonia. Surrounded by family and friends, the “Queen of Hebrew Music” left this world as her loved ones sang her most famous song, “Kalaniyot.” May her memory be a blessing.