Maya who? 60s singing star dies

Born in Morocco in 1941, internationally famous chanteuse Margalit Azran, better known as Maya Casabianca, passed away last week at age 78, after living during the last decades of her life in a small house in Haifa. Haaretz reports (with thanks Lily):

Her only daughter, Natalie Yishai, put a temporary sign on her mother’s grave bearing her well-known stage name, and decided to issue a statement about her

death to the media.

Yigal Bashan passed away not long ago, and then there was Amos Oz,” says Yishai. “And I thought – Maya Casabianca will pass away and no one will remember her. No one will know or say anything about it.”

But Yishai’s announcement did make a difference, at least a small one. Because of it, many people, like me, decided to look up this person – to understand just who this famous singer was, the one who hobnobbed with the rich and famous in France and had a secret, years-long affair with Farid al-Atrash, one of the great Arabic singers of all time.

Why has she been forgotten in Israel?

In the 1960s, Casabianca was a huge star who performed on the world’s biggest stages – at L’Olympia in Paris; in front of Soviet leaders at the Bolshoi in Moscow; with Syrian rulers in the audience in Damascus; before the shah in Iran. She lived in Paris and hung out with the likes of Georges Brassens, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret and Sacha Distel.

All told Casabianca recorded more than 300 songs in Arabic, French, Turkish, Farsi and later in Hebrew, and topped the charts alongside Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour, back in the day. She made such a contribution to French culture that she received an entry in the encyclopedia of the most influential people in France.

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