HADDAD, SARIT (1978– ), Israeli pop singer. When Haddad first made a name for herself in the mid-1990s with her first album, Niẓoẓ ha-Ḥayyim ("Spark of Life"), she was on the well-trodden path of so-called Mediterranean, or Eastern, pop music. She did not offer anything new in terms of musical style, but her vocals set a new standard which numerous singers have since tried to emulate.
Haddad was born in Afulah as the youngest of eight children. When she was eight years old she taught herself to play the guitar, organ, and various percussion instruments, and, without her parents' knowledge soon began performing at local clubs. When she was 16 Haddad was discovered by impresario Avi Gaute when she performed in a beach show. Gaute took Haddad under his wing and began to develop her career, initially targeting the Sephardi community. On Niẓoẓ ha-Ḥayyim Haddad joined forces with well-known young Druze male vocalist Sharif and the album sold well. By now Haddad had become a star on the national Eastern music club circuit.
In 1997, Haddad broke into the international market after a Jordanian television director caught her act. A tour of Jordan was soon arranged, with Haddad performing under the assumed identity of a Palestinian singer. The tour was a success and was followed by the release of Sarit Haddad Shara be-Aravit ("Sarit Haddad Sings in Arabic"), which was also sold in Arabic-speaking countries.
In the same year Haddad's Israeli market presence grew significantly when she teamed up with top ethnorock group Teapacks (Tipex), and with her 1998 record Ḥok ha-Ḥayyim ("The Law of Life") she broke into mainstream Israeli culture.
Since then Haddad has achieved, and maintains, megastar status in Israel, and has performed in Europe and the United States. Every record she released was an immediate success; she was voted Singer of the Year several times and represented Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2002, placing 12th.
[Barry Davis (2nd ed.)]