Veteran Israeli singer Esther Ofarim began recording in the late 1950s, and has put out records in several styles throughout her career, including folk music (of Israel and other cultures and countries), folk-rock, novelty, and orchestrated folk-pop-classical-rock in the style of Judy Collins. Ofarim often released records in English, with virtually no trace of an Israeli accent, and also performed and recorded for a while with her one-time husband Abi.
Although not too well-known to the English-speaking audience (particularly in the United States), Ofarim has impinged on the pop and rock consciousness from time to time. In 1968, she had a British number one hit (also a big seller in other countries, though not in the U.S.) with the novelty "Cinderella Rockafella," recorded as part of a duo with husband Abi; Esther and Abi had another British hit, "One More Dance," later that year. The pair's manager, Ady Semel, managed Scott Walker for a while, and co-wrote (with Walker) much of the material on Walker's 1970 album 'Til the Band Comes In. It was likely through that connection that Esther Ofarim actually ended up singing the sole vocal on a song on 'Til the Band Comes In, "Long About Now" (although this was written by Walker and Semel), a most unusual move on an album billed to an entirely different solo vocalist. Semel also told the press he had plans to make Scott Walker and Esther Ofarim a team, although nothing came of it.
Around the early '70s, Ofarim recorded some material in a style remarkably close (more in production than vocals) to that being done by Judy Collins around the same time: eclectic folk-pop-art songs, given classically tinged orchestral arrangements. Noted producer Bob Johnston (Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel) produced one of these, 1972's Esther Ofarim, which indicates that someone or some people in the industry must have thought she had the potential to attract a significant popular audience. One leading British collector, Phil Smee, has described (in Record Collector) some of her work as sounding like a female Scott Walker, particularly on the LP Israeli Songs. Little information about Ofarim, however, circulates in the English-speaking record collecting community, a situation that will no doubt change in the 21st century as cultists look for something relatively undiscovered to mine. ~ Richie Unterberger