This album was born from my wish to seek and revive the Yemenite songs I heard from my grandmother as a child. I listened to endless amazing singers, from Aharon Amram, Zion Golan,
Shoshana Damari, Shlomo Dachyani and Miriam Tzafri to Avner Gadasi and Ofra Chaza. The beautiful melodies and wonderful voices touched me deeply and humbled me greatly, though none as much as Grandma Rachel’s – she is number one, all 4 feet of her.
It was clear to me that a girl born in Israel and raised in New York, where the Yemenite songs faded and were replaced by Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, would have to find her own way to connect to that rich place called Root…
I meditated on the old Hebrew/Yemenite lyrics, full of love and longing, of dreams unfulfilled, of pain, heat, dust and wind. I wrote new English lyrics and music, and wrapped them around the old songs like a long coat in winter. I contemplated my family’s history, their harrowing journey from Yemen to Israel, my grandfather’s travels to Africa and beyond, finally uprooting the family to the US, my own decision to follow my heart and return to Israel, and from there, to again embrace the world on the wings of song, as a young woman and later, as a mother of two.
This never ending search for identity, for clarity, for acceptance, for love: I tried to see it through my grandmother’s eyes, through my mother’s, through my own, through my daughter’s. The result is before you.
I want to acknowledge the one and only Gil Dor, my best friend and musical director, for his incredible, indefatigable work on this album. Toda Gili.
Achinoam Nini (Noa)