Esther Zaied, better known by her married name Esther Ofarim (Hebrew: אסתר עופרים; born June 13, 1941), is an Israeli singer. She came second in the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “T’en va pas”, representing Switzerland. After marrying Abi Ofarim in 1958, she was half of the husband-and-wife folk duo Esther & Abi Ofarim in the 1960s. After the couple divorced, she undertook a successful solo career.
Esther Zaied was born in Safed to a Syrian Jewish family. She began performing as a child, singing Hebrew and international folk songs. In 1958, Esther met Abi Ofarim, a guitarist and dancer, whom she later married. She was a student in his dance studio in Haifa. Esther served four months in the Israeli Army before she was released due to her marriage to Abi.
American director Otto Preminger cast Esther for a small role in the film Exodus (1960). In 1960, Esther landed the role of Katzia in the play The Legend of Three and Four at the Habima Theatre. In 1961, she won first at Israel’s first pop song festival in Tel Aviv, where she sang “Saëni Imchá Bemachol” (Take Me with You When You Dance) and “Naamah”, written by Pnina and Tsvi Avni, accompanied by Kol Yisrael orchestra under Gary Bertini.
In 1962, Esther released her self-titled debut solo album and was invited to join Frank Sinatra in his performances in Israel. Kol Yisrael radio then sent her to the Sopot International Song Festival in Poland. She came in second place for singing “Stav”, written by Moshe Wilensky and Shimshon Halfi.
Esther and Abi settled in Geneva, Switzerland, where she took part in the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest representing Switzerland with the song “T’en va pas”. In a very close and controversial competition with the Danish duo Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann, her song placed second. Initially it appeared Switzerland had won the contest with 42 points to Denmark’s 40, but after an apparent change to the Norwegian scores, Ofarim ended up with 40 points, as opposed to 42 points for “Dansevise”, a reversal of the initial result.
“T’en va pas” was released as single on Philips Records in 1963, reaching No. 39 in Germany.
In 1963, Esther had a starring role in the German film Es war mir ein Vergnügen.
In 1963 and 1964, Esther and Abi had success on the charts in Europe. In the fall of 1964, Esther embarked on a tour of the United States with the Smothers Brothers. Speaking about a performance at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Jim Albright, campus correspondent, stated: Everyone expected the Smother Brothers to be great, but Ester [sic] turned out to be fabulous…people were amazed with her singing and her looks.”
By 1965, Esther was well known throughout Europe. She headlined in the major concert halls and theaters. She starred in German films and had her own television specials on BBC and Eurovision. For some time, Esther and Abi’s records were banned on radio stations in Israel due to Germany–Israel relations.
In 1966, Abi and Ofarim had their first hit with “Noch einen Tanz”, an English version of which, “One More Dance”, was a hit in the UK two years later, peaking at No. 13. Their greatest success in Germany was in 1967 with “Morning of My Life”, which was written by the Bee Gees. In 1968 “Cinderella Rockefella” hit the top of the charts in a number of countries including the UK. They performed live concerts in New York City and London, and they toured Europe before separating in 1969.
Esther began recording as a solo artist in the early 1960s. She often sang in different languages. In 1967, she recorded, Esther im Kinderland, in which she sang 20 children’s songs from eight countries in six different languages. After her divorce from Abi, she continued performing and released several albums.
On 25 February 1970, she co-starred in her own BBC television special The Young Generation Meet Esther Ofarim broadcast on BBC1.
In 1982, she released the album Complicated Ladies on Mercury Records with Eberhard Schoener, Wolf Wondratschek, and Ulf Miehe.
In 1984, she played in Joshua Sobol’s play Ghetto, produced by Peter Zadek in Berlin. There she sang songs including “Frühling” and “Unter deinen weissen Sternen”. Her songs were featured in the 2004 Israeli film, Walk on Water.
At the age of 18, Esther married Abi Ofarim on December 11, 1958. They separated in 1969, and their divorce was finalized in Germany in November 1970.
Esther later married assistant television director Philipp von Sell, who is 18 years her junior. They had a son, David von Sell, born in New York in 1983. Esther and Philipp divorced when David was nine. David is a musician, he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. (wikipedia)
This is her only American recording by Esther Ofarim nd the album is brilliant. Unfortunately, as was the case with the original LP in 1965 … overlooked in the U.S.
Consisting mostly of American showtunes and standards, it is a departure for Ofarim… and a thrilling CD. With soaring arrangements by Bobby Scott, it is not only a departure for her, it is a peak.
The title song of the original LP, “Is It Really Me” is the definitive version of a long-overlooked beautifully pensive ballad from the Broadway show “110 in the Shade” which with its recent revival at the Roundabout in New York deserves another listen.
The other songs are equally impressive. Listen – it is the very top in female singing – and comparable to the impact of early Streisand in her first several albums. (by AGVA)
What a terrific voice this woman has and there’s something very emotional about her singing and interpretations. It doesn’t hurt that she has the backing band of Bobby Scott, who’s great (and the composer of the best track on the album, A Taste of Honey). But Is It Really Me is glorious, and her Somewhere became an instant favorite. She has a bit of Barbra in her on her top end, but there’s a freshness here that I just respond to. (by A. Film Lover)
Esther Ofarim (vocals)
Bobby Scott Orchestra
01. Earthquake (Vivanco) 2.43
02. Somewhere (from “West Side Story”) (Bernstein/Sondheim) 2.27
03. Old Devil Moon (from “Finian’s Rainbow”) (Lane/Harburg) 1.54
04. Is It Really Me (Schmidt/Jones) 3.10
05. Here I’ll Stay (from “Love Life”) (Weill/Lerner) 2.17
06. Night And Day (Porter) 1.54
07. Speak Low (from “One Touch Of Venus”) (Weill/Nash) 2.40
08. Somebody Somewhere (from “The Most Happy Fella”) (Loesser) 2.56
09. To The Ends Of The Earth (N.Sherman/J.Sherman) 1.59
10. I Have Dreamed (from “The King And I”) (Rodgers/Hammerstein II) 2.30
11. A Taste Of Honey (from “A Taste Of Honey”) (Scott/Marlow) 2.51
12. By Myself (from “Between The Devil”) (Schwartz/Dietz) 1.58