© 2021 KSUT Public Radio
NPR News and Music Discovery for the Four Corners
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

South X Lullaby: A-WA

We first fell in love with A-WA in a badass video for their party song "Habib Galbi," complete with tasseled snapbacks on track-suited dancers. But at midnight during the SXSW music festival, the Israeli sister trio sang us a quiet lullaby in All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's hotel room.

Accompanied by an electric guitarist and seated on the side of the bed, "Ya Shaifin Al Malih" is a Yemeni folk song about a love that hurts. The sisters, who pull from their Yemeni Jewish roots, told us that it wasn't originally written as a ballad, but after explaining its meaning, how could it not be?

"There's an enjoyable love and there's a love that gives you heartache," they said. "There's a strong love that no doctor can cure." You can hear that heartache in the gorgeous and haunting three-part harmony that ties a yearning soul in knots, as they sing (translated from Yemeni Arabic), "Have you seen my love / Tell him that he's my heart and my soul / Because I've been looking for him day and night."

Watch more South X Lullabies here.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.