Rita (Israeli singer)

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Rita
RITA gy 2015.jpg
Background information
Birth name Rita Yahan Farouz
Born (1962-03-24) March 24, 1962 (age 54)
Origin Tehran, Iran
Genres Rock, soul, pop, folk
Occupation(s) Singer, Actress
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1986–present
Labels Hed Arzi, Helicon, Kna'an

Rita Yahan-Farouz (Persian: ریتا جهان‌فروز‎‎; English: Jahanforuz; Hebrew: ריטה יהאן-פרוז‎‎; b. March 24, 1962), known as Rita, is an Israeli pop singer and actress.[1]

In 2011, she became popular in Iran after the release of various pop records which she sings in her native Persian language. In 2012, her album "All My Joys," also sung in Persian, was popular in Israel and Iran, going gold in Israel after three weeks. She has since been referred to as a cultural ambassador between Israeli and Iranian citizens, and states she hopes to "puncture the wall of tension" between their countries.[2]

Biography[edit]

Rita Jehan-Forouz was born in Tehran, Iran in 1962. Her family immigrated to Israel in 1970 and lived in a suburb outside of Tel Aviv. She began singing professionally as a band member while in the Israeli Army during the 1980s, and rose to stardom quickly.[2]Rita was married to singer, composer, and keyboardist Rami Kleinstein, with whom she has two daughters - Meshi and Noa. The couple performed together in 2001. In 2007, they announced they were separating.

Singing and acting career[edit]

Rita in concert, Jerusalem

Rita began her career in 1980 as part of a musical troupe in the Israel Defense Forces. In 1982, she attended the "Beit Zvi" school of acting. Her first exposure to the general public in Israel was at the 1986 Pre-Eurovision Song Contest (known as the Kdam-Eurovision), which decided who would represent Israel in the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest. Rita did not win, but her song,"Shvil habricha" garnered much interest. That same year, Rita starred in an adaptation of My Fair Lady and released her self-titled debut album, Rita, which went triple platinum, selling over 120,000 copies. In 1987, she released the English language album Breaking Those Walls under the name of Rita Farouz. That album contained a couple of English versions of her Hebrew songs from the first album as well as original material. Despite going gold (20 000 copies) in Israel, that album was not an international success.

In 1988, Rita released her second album, Yemei Ha'Tom (The Days of Innocence), which was produced by her then husband, Rami Kleinstein, and which included a song by Israeli playwright Hanoch Levin. In 1988 and 1989 she was chosen as Singer of the Year by Israel's national radio station.[3]

Rita singing Hatikvah, 1998

In 1990, Rita represented Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest with Shara Barkhovot (Singing in the Streets), but only achieved 18th place. After a brief hiatus, Rita returned in 1994 with her third album, Ahava Gedola (Big Love), which led to a three-year tour around the country. Tahanot Bazman (Stations in Time) was released in 1996, consisting mainly of previously unreleased material.

In 1995, Rita voiced Pocahontas in the Hebrew dub of the animated film Pocahontas. She also sang singing parts in the film.

In 1998, Rita was invited to sing the Israeli national anthem Hatikvah (The Hope) at Israel's jubilee celebration Paamonei ha'yovel (The Jubilee Bells). There was a minor uproar concerning her fee, which was deemed exorbitant by some, but she was convinced to appear following a call from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She reportedly donated the money to charity.

In 1999, Rita released Tiftakh Halon (Open a Window), followed by Hamtzan (oxygen) in 2003. In 2004, Rita played the role of Roxie Hart in an adaptation of Chicago for the Beit Lessin Theater.[4]

In 2006, Rita appeared in a show called One (in English) which ran for a month at the Israel Trade Fairs & Convention Center. Directed by Hanoch Rozen, it including lasers, flamethrowers, 3-D images, smoke machines and forty dancers, acrobats, and actors. Over 100,000 tickets were sold.

After five years of silence, Rita released her 7th album, "Remazim" (Clues).

In 2010 she performed at the President's Residence in Jerusalem in the presence of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Israeli president Shimon Peres. She sang her musical version to Bialik's poem Hachanasini tachat Knafekh and an aria in Italian. She released her new Persian single, "Shane", on June 22, 2011.

Deciding to create a song in her childhood language of Persian, which she speaks fluently, she introduced the single, "Shaneh," based on traditional Persian folk music, but modernized with a more pop and techno dance beat. Iranians of all ages responded "overwhelmingly," including sending her emails and writing on her Facebook page.[2]

Most Westernized popular music, including hers, is banned in Iran, which filters the Internet, however fans have downloaded or bought bootleg copies of her albums.[5] Iranians living in other countries flooded her recording studio with messages, especially after the release of her 2012 album, "All My Joys," also in Persian. It went "gold" in Israel within three weeks of its release.[2]

Despite her popularity in Iran, the Iranian government called her music a "plot" to win over the hearts and minds of Iranians, and part of Israel's "soft war" against Iran. She was also criticized for sending good wishes to Iranians for Nowruz, the Iranian New Year.[2]

Rita is part of an international trio of women singers, "Divinas," along with Irish singer Méav Ní Mhaolchatha and Yulia Townsend.

On March 5, 2013 Rita performed at the U.N. General Assembly and sang in Persian, English and Hebrew.

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2013, a documentary about her album in Persian was directed by Ayal Goldberg.[6] It was shown at the Lincoln Center in New York City during the New York Jewish Film Festival in 2014.[7] In Australia, it shown in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth during the AICE Israeli Film Festival in August 2014.[8]

Discography[edit]

Year Album Translation Israel Certificate
1986 Rita 4x Platinum
1987 Breaking Those Walls Gold
1988 Yamey Ha-Tom The Days of Innocence 5x Gold
1994 Ahava Gdola A Great Love 4x Platinum
1996 Tahanot BaZman Stages in Time 2x Platinum
1999 Tiftah Halon Open a Window 2x Platinum
2000 Time for Peace Gold
2001 Rita & Rami On Stage 5x Gold
2003 Hamtsan Oxygen Gold
2007 One Live Gold
2008 Remazim Clues Platinum
2012 Ha'Smachot Shelly My Joys Gold
2015 Rita Osef Rita: The Collection


Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Gili & Galit
with Derekh Hamelekh
Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest
1990
Succeeded by
Duo Datz
with Kan

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rita - Official Website". rita.co.il. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Fassihi, Farnaz; Mitnick, Joshua. "Iran and Israel Can Agree on This: Rita Jahanforuz Totally Rocks", Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2012
  3. ^ "Rita". Teev Events. 2010-05-07. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  4. ^ "Behind the scenes of "Chicago"" (in Hebrew). NRG.co.il. 2005-01-13. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  5. ^ "Voices on Antisemtisim interview with Rita Jahanforuz". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2012-12-06
  6. ^ "Rita Jahan Foruz (2013)". IMDb. 1 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Rita Jahan Foruz". filmlinc.com. 
  8. ^ "Films". AICE Israeli Film Festival 2015. 

External links[edit]