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Sephardic Singer Jo Amar, 79

Sephardic-Jewish musician and cantor Jo Amar passed away this past Friday at the age of 79.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/30/2009, 10:26 AM

Sephardic-Jewish musician and cantor Jo Amar passed away this past Friday at the age of 79 in New York. He was buried in Moshav Yad Rambam, in central Israel between Ramle and Shaalavim, on Sunday.

One of the generation's leading Sephardic musicians, Jo (Yosef) Amar was born in Morocco in 1930, and immigrated to Israel in 1956. Considered the first singer to introduce Moroccan Jewish liturgical music in a popular manner in Israel, his hits include Yismah Moshe, Shalom LeVen Dodi, Barcelona, Song of the Drunkard, Ani Havatzelet HaSharon, and many more.

In 1970, Amar settled in New York, performing in the USA and in Europe as a cantor, as well as a teacher in cantorial workshops. He also published an anthology of Moroccan Jewish liturgical music. Amar's more than 20 albums include two that he recorded with the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra in 2000. Jo Amar had residences in both Israel and Los Angeles. He is survived by four children and ten grandchildren.

A musical evening of tribute was held in his honor Jerusalem just a year ago.  Then-Mayor Uri Lupoliansky presented Amar with a certificate of appreciation, and selections from a movie on his life, beginning with his childhood in Morocco, were screened.