Born Achinoam Nini, and known as Noa outside her home country, this singer, composer and percussionist has become Israel's leading international artist. Her Yemenite Jewish family moved to New York when she was two years old, but at 17 she returned alone to Israel, where she still lives with her husband and three children. It is for them, and for other children in the region, that she continues to fight for what she believes is the only solution for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: two states for two peoples.
As an important step towards solving problems in the Middle East and around the world Noa, 47, prescribes her Love Medicine, the latest addition to a discography of more than 15 albums that she has released with her long-term collaborator Gil Dor.
At Malaga's Cervantes theatre next week the artist will perform some of the songs that gained her international recognition, such as Beautiful That Way (from Benigni's Oscar-winning film Life is Beautiful), as well as a dose of her most recent album.
Love Medicine is a very direct title. Does love cure everything?
Not everything, but a lot. It's free, and natural, and it's right in front of our eyes. It starts at birth, and should never end. Music is, in its purest form, audible love.
What does music save you from?
Music is my calling in life. More than I chose music, music chose me. Before I had children, it was my major reason for living. Now, it is in close second place.
How do you conceive love?
That's a big question. Love is, in essence, dedicating yourself to something bigger than yourself, creating a joint energy that goes beyond ego and self. Love is caring, passion, generosity, selflessness, it is the innate ability to see yourself in the eyes of the other, and them in your own self.
You released Love Medicine through crowdfunding. Why did you choose that formula? You must have had offers from a multinational record company - but would that have compromised your freedom?
The world has changed a lot for musicians. Multinationals are irrelevant. They are only interested in the "top of the cream", the most commercial, money-making acts. Money, shareholders, stocks, revenue, sales figures: these have always been part of the industry but there used to be a sense of mission in some places in the industry, executives who really cared about original, groundbreaking music and loved it. There used to be the feeling that record companies were there to serve music and make sure it was always interesting, new, creative and bold, and challenging to the audience. but today? That's all gone. In my opinion, the record companies are dying, and soon they will be dead. They have nothing to offer artists or audience. I did not enjoy the process of crowdfunding, though it did enable me to make the album I wanted to make. We musicians have not yet found the golden road between the dictatorship of record companies and the orphanage of independence.
- In an interview you said that you have been "surviving" in music for 25 years. From outside, however, we see a successful career.
- Twenty-seven years to be exact. It has been a journey. Even when it's very difficult, I remind myself that it's a great privilege to live my life married to music.
Your position in favour of peace and your criticism of Israeli policies have not been understood by a section of your fellow Israelis. And at the same time you have suffered the opposition of pro-Palestine groups for being Israeli. Do you feel like you're in no man's land?
It is true that I have been attacked by extremists from both sides, but that only strengthens my convictions. If extremists are unhappy with what I am doing, I must be doing something right! I believe moderates of the world must unite against extremists in every possible way. My goal is to highlight the endless organisations in Israel and Palestine working ceaselessly to build bridges and create dialogue and hope in the darkest places. I admire the human rights organisations, the educational groups, the dialogue groups, the peace organisations and all the other great people who will not let fear rule their lives. They are my heroes and I will do everything in my power to strengthen and encourage them. They are Israel and Palestine!
You have a good relationship with Spain - you perform here regularly and have a following. Despite that, have you felt rejected at any point due to your political stance or your origins?
In Spain? No. I have encountered demonstrations by BDS [the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement] and other radical groups, but they know nothing of what I stand for. Like all extremists they are blind and self-righteous, and they are far from being the majority.
Do you believe that a solution is possible for the Arab-Israeli conflict? Or have you lost hope?
The solution is in front of our eyes. Two states for two peoples. Everyone knows it, and that's what is going to happen. The question is, how many more of our children will we bury before our leaders, on both sides, put their personal interests aside, stop the incitement, lies and fear-mongering and do what's right for the people?
What do you expect from your country? What steps are you calling for it to take? And what steps should Palestine be taking?
Dialogue from a place of respect, with the goal of arriving at two states for two peoples.
You're not afraid of talking about such delicate issues. A lot of people are too scared to speak out.
I am fighting for the lives of my children, and the lives of my neighbour's children. Without humanity and values, respect and equality, we have nothing.
Are you concerned about the Trump era?
Who isn't? But, it will pass. The pendulum will swing. We must work harder and show more and more conviction. Trump is a lesson for the world; I hope we will emerge wiser and stronger from this dark period, and I hope this will happen without another world war or an ecological disaster.