By INN and COLlive
World renowned Moroccan singer Jo Amar passed away in New York on Friday at age 79. Amar was an Israeli icon for the first decades of the state’s existence, a favorite of the newly arrived Sephardic immigrants in the country.
Yosef Amar was born in Morocco in 1930, and came to Israel in 1956. Considered the first singer to introduce Moroccan Jewish liturgical music in Israel, his hits include Yismah Moshe, Shalom LeVen Dodi, Barcelona, Song of the Drunkard, Ani Havatzelet HaSharon, and many more.
Amar, who immigrated to Israel in 1956, pioneered the fusion sound of Israeli eastern “mizrachi” music, merging classical Jewish Sephardic and Arabic tunes with Western musical sensibilities, along with lyrics that discussed the personal and social angst and joys of Middle Eastern immigrants who sought to find a place in Israeli society.
In 1970, Amar settled in New York, performing in the USA and in Europe as a cantor, as well as a teacher in cantorial workshops. He also published an anthology of Moroccan Jewish liturgical music.
He performed regularly in Chabad House concerts and gala dinners around North America, often mentioning his great respect for the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his Shluchim for their work with Morocco’s and North African Jewry.
One of his memorable concerts in later years was at the annual Simchas Bais Hashoiva in Montreal, organized by Moroccan bred Shliach Rabbi Mendel Raskin, Director of Beth Chabad Cote St. Luc, Quebec.
Amar’s more than 20 albums include two that he recorded with the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra in 2000. Amar has residences in both Israel and Los Angeles, and is survived by four children and ten grandchildren.
Amar’s body will arrive in Israel on Saturday night. His funeral will take place Sunday afternoon at Yad Rambam, the moshav that was his residence in Israel in recent years.