JERUSALEM -- Shoshana Damari, whose voice came to embody the emerging nation of Israel and comforted its people during their most trying times, died Feb. 14 after suffering from pneumonia. She was 83.
Damari, known as "the queen of Hebrew music" and a recipient of the nation's most prestigious cultural prize, entertained Israeli civilians and soldiers for nearly seven decades with her booming alto voice, continuing to perform until shortly before her death.
Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Damari "one of Israel's cultural greats," adding, "We will remember her forever as the national voice."
The diminutive Damari was known for her jet-black hair, piercing dark eyes and powerful, low-pitched voice.
She studied singing and acting and began appearing in public in her teens, performing on the radio from the age of 14. She made many recordings and helped soothe the nation during its war of independence in 1948.
She often performed for Israeli military units throughout the country's many wars and played a motivating role for Israeli soldiers, similar to what Bob Hope did for American troops during World War II and in later wars.
Damari made her last public appearance a week ago at the Ami Awards ceremony, Israel's equivalent of the Grammys.
Survivors include a daughter, who resides in Canada.