11 November 2011
Noa's concert in New Dehli (India)
at Siri Fort Auditorium
Singer-songwriter Noa and Mira Awad from Israel talk to Divya Kaushik about multi-cultural influences in their music, their belief in compositions full of hope and positive energy and how Indian classical music and dance inspire them.
Her eyes lit up and a girlish giggle floats on her face as she sinks on a couch a little more to sing yara sili sili... from the movie Rudaali. In fact, it comes as a surprise to hear perfect Hindi lyrics by this Israeli-Arab singer, songwriter and actress. It seems she has been listening to them for years now. While Bulgarian and Arabic music is in her genes, it is Indian music that she likes among others. This common liking can be one of the reasons that she, Mira Awad and another renowned Israeli singer and songwriter Achinoam Nini or Noa gel so well on stage and otherwise. The duo, along with Gil Dor (Noa’s partner and guitarist) make for a rocking team. Moreover, the three of them have almost the same line of thought.
They are all here for the first time in India to perform as a part of Delhi International Arts Festival and also to celebrate 20 years of relation between Israel and India. It’s easy to make out from their expressions that they were as much excited for their performance as most of the Indians were to witness the amazing performance, by both Noa and Gil, and Mira, solo and together.
“Least to say, we are going to do our best. We are excited and coming from Goa after attending a convention and forum where we got an opportunity to hear some interesting people. India is very special to us. My part of the performance will reflect what I do. I am a singer who composes songs that reflect my background and my internal world. I was born in a Jewish family of Yemenite origin and most of my songs are in English, Hebrew and Yemenite. I also play percussion and we do instrumental music too. I was glad to learn that people here have awareness about English and they would love to listen to songs that come from a diverse range of subjects. There will be some songs written by me and some that were written by both of us, to be presented in three languages — English, Hebrew and Arabic,” says Noa.
On the general perception that their tracks and compositions are about peace, she adds, “It isn’t necessarily about peace. Mira and I have our own way to give a message to a song and that way has to be such that it involves more and more people. Our songs might have different meanings to different individuals.” To add her part, Mira says, “The reason why I was excited to be in India was because I know that people in India are open to appreciate good music and are receptive to global music. Lyrics is not an important part when you enjoy the music you just go with the flow. In some countries where I performed I didn’t get this feeling. They are not open to music from different cultures but India, I know is a country where cultures are respected and music with strong message will be appreciated.”
It is unbelievable if someone says they have been a fan of global music and not heard of Noa and Mira. They were the ones to represent Israel during the Eurovision Song Contest and were widely appreciated for their composition which was “full of positive energy and hope”. Most of the people think the contest brought them together but they reveal that it was actually “after they already had 10-year-long relationship”. Both of them were renowned and known in their own capacities and it was Gil who found Mira when Noa was looking for an artiste to work together, even after collaborating with world-renowned artistes. “Both of us have many things in common and I selected Mira on the basis of her brains. It is important for the musicians to connect on stage. Both of us have multi-cultural beginnings, while I have Jewish, Yemenite influences, Mira was brought up in a family with Bulgarian and Arab music. I needed Mira while I was planning for an international album wherein I wanted an artiste with whom I can communicate my feelings and thoughts,” shares Noa about finding Mira who has been an actress and doing theatre as well back home.
Talking more about their music, Noa says most of her compositions have strong influences from the music of the 60s and singer-songwriters like Paul Simon. For both, music has to be something that transforms a person to another world and “when all people experience the same feelings despite their being from different backgrounds, communities or religions.”
Music and musicians from Israel have been creating an impact across the world and Mira says Israel doesn’t have folk culture but their music is about lot of fusion. “It is a young country. So, we can’t talk about folk as our music is an individual’s perception about our evolving society. There is fusion with an influence of Rock and Western and some musicians learn Indian classical too,” says Mira. Noa adds, “But our music is really beautiful and I have inherited the music of our Jewish great grandfathers.”
About India and its music, Noa says, “Every Israeli knows about it and a visit to this country is a part of their lives, at least once.” Interestingly, Noa told us she uses a lot of hand movements that are inspired from Indian classical dance forms in her performance. “Not just that, I have heard a lot of Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Jagjit Singh too. I also realised that Indian movies, like ours, have that ultimate melodramatic plot,” she laughs, but Mira says she loves them.