Died Today: February 23, 2000 - Ofra Haza
Ofra Haza (November 19, 1957 – February 23, 2000) was a popular Israeli singer, actress and international recording artist. Her voice has been described as mezzo-soprano, of near-flawless tonal quality, capable of lending itself to a variety of musical styles with apparent ease.
Her greatest international recognition came with the single "Im Nin'Alu", taken from the album Shaday (1988), which won the New Music Award for Best International Album of the Year. The song topped the Eurochart (Europe's equivalent to the American Billboard charts) for two weeks in June that year and was on heavy rotation on MTV channels across the continent. For years to come, this song would be extensively re-released, re-mixed and sampled, for example on Coldcut's remix of Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full." The single made only a brief appearance in the UK top 40 singles chart, but became a dancefloor favorite across Europe and the USA, topping the German charts for nine weeks. Subsequent singles were also given the dance-beat / MTV-style video treatment, most notably, "Galbi", "Daw Da Hiya" and "Mata Hari", but none quite matched the runaway success of her first hit. "Im Nin' Alu" would go on to be featured on an in-game radio playlist of the video game Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, released in 2005.
On 15 July 1997 Haza married businessman Doron Ashkenazi. They had no children together. Ashkenazi died on Saturday,April 7, 2001, of an overdose of crystallized cocaine, leaving behind a daughter from his previous marriage, and a 14 year old adopted son Shai Ashkenazi. He was suspected of having infected Haza with the HIV/AIDs virus. His family did an autopsy test after his death but refused to reveal the results.
Ofra Haza died at the age of 42 on the 23rd February 2000 – the cause being widely reported as organ failure orpneumonia, reportedly arising from HIV/AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) complications. Her family declined to confirm or deny these reports, however, stating that it was Haza's wish that the matter should remain private. There was considerable media interest into the circumstances of her death.