Jewish Maghrib Jukebox

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Jo Amar Passes Away at 79

There have been a few articles about the passing of Jo Amar last week. One of the best I’ve read so far has been the Ben Harris piece at JTA. Simple and well stated - a fitting tribute. Harris describes Amar as a Moroccan singer and Israeli icon and perhaps this is the best description of this man of many worlds. Other articles have aptly described Amar’s contributions to Israeli and Hebrew music and most notably to Mizrahi music but have neglected to mention his contribution to Moroccan and Arabic music. Just as Amar was an Israeli icon, he was also a Moroccan singer. He sang in Hebrew and in Arabic. Upon emigrating to Israel, Amar, like other immigrant singers, recorded music in Arabic at Koliphone (with the Azoulay Brothers) in Jaffa.

Yesterday on my way home from work I stopped by the post office to pick up a package that was waiting for me. I had ordered some old records from Israel and among them was an Arabic language LP entitled Kdam Drssd Ala - sung of course by Jo Amar. Once home I carefully unwrapped the package and removed the record from its sleeve. I placed the record on my turntable and placed the needle on the vinyl and there he was - Jo Amar in all his glory singing in Arabic.