Sister Act: Shopping With A-Wa



Slide Show

Out and About With A-Wa

CreditGeorge Etheredge/The New York Times


As they ambled through the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side last week, the Haim sisters — Tagel, Tair and Liron — made a playful detour. Stopping at a produce stand, Tagel lifted a pair of peppers to her ears.

She was showing off her makeshift earrings when her siblings joined her. Tagel dropped the peppers and grinned wickedly as she hoisted two squash breast high; Liron lifted another, perfectly contoured to the line of her hips.

“Everything is natural, just like the shapes of our bodies,” Tagel said, moving on to a bin lavishly piled with yellow and orange cherry tomatoes.

The sisters (not to be confused with Haim, the California sister trio), in their late 20s and early 30s and known collectively as the music group A-Wa (Arabic for “Yes!”), had gathered the makings of a crazy salad. An unlikely fusion of disparate elements, it was something like their sound, a resolutely upbeat mixture of hip-hop and electro pop beats and the melodies of their Yemeni heritage.

Relaxing before a performance at Webster Hall in the East Village, they darted past pyramids of fruit and shelves lined with exotic coffee blends and cheeses, dressed in a chaotic mash-up of flowing floral- and fruit-pattern skirts, which were nearly lost amid the gaily colored produce.

“Markets are always so colorful and diverse,” Tagel said. “You get to see stuff, smell it, touch it.”

Finishing her thought, Liron chimed in, “They play on all your senses.”

Their music videos, too, encourage audiences to sample, absorb and practically inhale the sensations of the desert where the young women grew up. At its debut last year, their hit single, “Habib Galbi,” inspired by a Yemeni folk song and shot in the arid landscape of the Arava Valley in Israel, gained an international audience, including Europeans and Mipsterz (Muslim hipsters), and close to 3.7 million views on YouTube.