is a Arabic-based group that performs a mix of world
music: Middle Eastern, Arabic, French, Hebrew, and
Spanish Gypsy music. Blending the Mediterranean
strains of Flamenco with sensual Arabic harmonies.
The name Alabina has two meanings: "come to me" and
"God is between us."
Alabina is made of lead
singer Ishtar, who does the female vocals, and the
band Los Niños de Sara, who provide male vocals and
Los Niños de Sara are
cousins from Nimes, France, who have been playing
together since they were 14 years old. Described as
a cross between the Gipsy Kings and Buena Vista
Social Club, the group’s blend of rumba and flamenco
music features a touch of North African influence.
Ishtar was born on 10
November 1968 as Esther (Eti) Zach and raised
in Israel. Her parents are Moroccan and Egyptian.
She speaks and sings in Arabic, Hebrew, French,
Spanish, and English; she also says she
"half-speaks" "Moroccan." Ishtar began performing in
clubs at age 14 and continued even in the Israeli
army, where she served as an helicopter technician.
Though she was born Eti Zach, she chose the name
"Ishtar," a Mesopotamian goddess, because her
grandmother called her Ester, which "with her
Egyptian accent it sounded like Ishtar," she said.
breakthrough came when producer Charles Ibgui came
to see her in concert. Impressed by Ishtars
extraordinary voice, he introduced her to a group of
Gypsies, Los Niños de Sara. Ishtar became the
group’s front woman and, under the name Alabina, the
five some went on to create a catchy multi-cultural
fusion sound mixing Arabic, Spanish, Hebrew, French
and Gypsy music with lyrics in Arabic, Spanish,
English, Hebrew and French. Alabina’s multi-cultural
fusion sound was laid over electro beats which gave
the group’s music a strong dance feel and won them
instant popularity on the international music scene.
Needless to say, Alabina’s ‘Oriental pop’ was soon
crossing linguistic and geographical borders and
shooting up charts around the world. As the lead
singer of Alabina, Ishtar frequently sings in
Arabic, complementing the Spanish of Los Niños de
Sara. She often sings Arabic-style, with a wavering
voice and trilling. She also sings Hebrew songs,
sometimes songs from her childhood, only alone,
however — not with Alabina. Occasionally she joins
Los Niños in Spanish. On her own, she frequently
sings French. Nine out of twelve songs in her album
The Voice of Alabina are in French — and she has two
songs in English: "C'Est La Vie My Baby" (Truly (Emet))
and "Last Kiss" (The Voice of Alabina).
Ishtar is frequently featured on Alabina album
covers. She has dyed blond hair, which is sometimes
curly, and dark brown eyes. She has been noted for
her provocative dress in pictures and at concerts.
On her own, Ishtar has produced three albums: The
Voice of Alabina (2000), Truly (Emet) (2003) and Je
sais d'où je viens (2005). The first is mainly
composed of French songs, the second is mostly in
Hebrew, and Ishtar's last album is primarily in
Arabic, with four songs in French, one in Spanish
and significant chunks of English dispersed
throughout. Ishtar currently lives in France.
singles, ‘Alabina’, ‘Ole y Ola’ and ‘Habibi de Mis
Amores’ encountered a huge success. Alabina’s
dance-influenced covers of traditional Arab classics
seemed to appeal to music fans across the board.
Indeed, the group appeared to have hit upon a
successful formula for crossing cultural and
religious divides. Alabina owed much of their
multi-cultural success to their charismatic front
woman, who remained something of a mystery.
Enthusiastic and exuberant on stage, Ishtar
established an excellent reputation on the live
scene. Within the six months of the release of their
debut album, they performed in numerous famous
French and American theaters. They have performed in
numerous countries worldwide (Spain, Russia, Italy,
Israel, Armenia, Australia, Sweden, Africa, Greece,
India, Mexico, Panama, Romania, Poland UK and
Brazil). Alabina performed for hundreds of thousands
fans throughout the world.
Alabina were soon back in the studio putting the
finishing touches to their second album, ‘Sahara’,
released in October ’98. The album quickly echoed
the success of the first, making an impact on the
charts in more than 20 different countries and
reaching number 8 in Billboard's ‘Top World Music’
chart. ‘Sahara’ featured 11 tracks equally catchy.
Ishtar Alabina has been making its mark on both
sides of the Atlantic as a million copy seller of a
highly charming musical blend one might call ’the
Rumba from the Desert’, and It’s singer ‘the Queen
of the Middle East’.