It's Noa or Never

According to Israeli singer Achinoam Nini, a.k.a. Noa, if you've heard her music, well, that's downright un-American. No, really, unless you're Jewish or European, you probably haven't heard of Noa, despite her distinguished résumé, which includes performances for the pope and Bill Clinton, and alongside Quincy Jones and Sting.

"My greatest success has been in Europe. That's where I have my largest audience and my warmest audience," says the 35-year-old singer from her home in Israel. "In the States it's much different. My greatest welcome has always been from the Jewish community."

Noa brings her eclectic sound, which mixes jazz, pop and acoustic rock (think an Israeli Joni Mitchell), to the Scottsdale Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 27. Fans familiar with Noa can expect samples of her 2002 album, Now, and even strangers to her music should find something to like, she says. "The kind of stuff we do will open your mind and touch your heart and challenge you and entertain you and move you."

Noa was born in Tel Aviv, grew up in New York City, and returned to Israel at 17. After spending two years in the Israeli military singing to soldiers, she studied music at the Rimon School and landed an international music contract. As for her limited American fan base, Noa says it's partly her unwillingness to pursue a full-time music career in America and partly Americans' fault for not reaching out for a diversity of music.

"Many countries have allowed the American culture to infiltrate into their own, but America has not done the same," she says. "It's stayed a bit like the bull in the glass shop.

"There's so much in music nowadays that's phony," she adds. "You can fake anything, but you cannot fake standing onstage and performing, especially the way we do. There are no pyrotechnics, no fancy lights. The three of us together make real music."

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Ashlea Deahl