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Souad Massi, lead vocals, guitar; Malik Kerrouche, guitar; Guy Nsangue, bass; Maamoun Dehane, drums; Mokrane Adlani, violin
Slovenian audiences have encountered Algerian music mainly through big celebrities who keep alive the tradition of folk music known as rai, including Khaled, Cheb Mami and Rachid Taha. Among the female artists, only the player of traditional desert tunes Hasna El Becharia performed live in Slovenia, while the urban folk tradition of singer-songwriters was largely omitted. And if the late Idir was the biggest name among male performers, Souad Massi qualifies as the best-known Algerian female artist.
Massi was born in Algiers, to a poor family of seven children. She began studying music at a young age, singing and playing guitar. In the early 1990s, Massi joined the Algerian political rock band Atakor. Because of the band's political lyrics, Massi became the target of a series of death threats. In 1999, she left the band and moved to Paris, where she soon attracted widespread attention and landed a recording contract with Island Records. In 2001, she released her solo debut album Raoui, which became a critical and commercial success in France, and raised Massi’s international visibility. Eight more albums followed. She again rose to international stardom with her most recent release, Sequana (2022). Her burgeoning reputation resulted in invitations to perform in prominent venues; this coming October, Messi is thus playing Philharmonie Köln. The album has won widespread critical praise, both from international music magazines and daily newspapers (“an outstanding return to form” The Guardian).
Still considered as the most beautiful female voice of North Africa, Souad Massi's songs, driven by a strong belief in freedom and justice, convey messages of love, altruism, and bravery, while also advocating for tolerance and understanding. Known as Tracy Chapman of Maghreb, Massi also embodies the charisma of Jane Birkin. And if she were born in Slovenia's Prekmurje region, she would be seen as the female counterpart of Vlado Kreslin.
And as is the norm when it comes to musicians based in France, Souad Massi’s Ljubljana concert will feature world-class instrumentalists and a sophisticated audiovisual design. A rare chance to experience one of North Africa’s finest singers in our part of the world, this is a musical event not to be missed. Let's experience it together.