Alabina 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 NiÃ±os de Sara, who provide male vocals and music.
Los NiÃ±os 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.
Ishtar's big 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 NiÃ±os 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 NiÃ±os 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 â€” not with Alabina. Occasionally she joins Los NiÃ±os in Spanish. On her own, she frequently sings French. Nine out of twelve songs in her album The Voice of Alabina are in French â€” 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'oÃ¹ 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.
The 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'.