A Nightingale Rises in Jerusalem
Crossposted from Haaretz
A few moments before the show, when the Jerusalem Theater auditorium was nearly full, a young man called out to an older woman: “Grandma, I’m here!” In another row, a young woman helped her grandmother to her seat.
They weren’t the only ones. The homage to singer Nazem al-Ghazali drew at least three generations of Israelis, most of them of Iraqi descent. And when the evening’s musical director, Yair Dalal, noted that although al-Ghazali had died almost 50 years ago, his songs remain etched in the memories of Iraqi Jews, many grandparents in the audience nodded in agreement.
Al-Ghazali, who died at 42 in 1963, was one of the great Iraqi vocalists of the mid-20th century. Although he’s not as well-known as his counterparts in Egypt and Lebanon, the festival organizers deserve credit for aiming the footlights at him and his work.