Cheb Mami, the ...Prince of Rai... out of the spotlight
ALGIERS- The ...Prince of Rai..., Cheb Mami, whose trial for (allegedly) forced abortion attempted of his former French girlfriend opens Thursday in Bobigny
- ALGIERS- The “Prince of Rai”, Cheb Mami, whose trial for (allegedly) forced abortion attempted of his former French girlfriend opens Thursday in Bobigny, near Paris, has put her career on hold and lives far away from projectors for two years in Algeria.
- Indicted in October 2006, imprisoned three months at the prison de la Santé in Paris, then released after paying a bail of 200,000 Euros, Mohamed Khelifati, alias Cheb Mami, 42, is since May 2007 under an international arrest warrant. Interpol asked Alger to transfer him to France.
- Living in Oran, the largest city in western Algeria, where he owns some property, and his hometown of Saïda, located 437 km southwest of Algiers, Cheb Mami keeps quiet about his presence at trial Thursday for attempted abortion of his ex-French companion.
- Cheb Khaled, great figurehead of Raï music, is no longer on the scene and flees local and foreign press. He put his career on hold and lives out of the spotlight, a situation that does not fit with his star status and “Prince of Raï”, the music born in Algeria, which he has given an international dimension in the mixing with other music genres.
- Cheb Mami, “the kid”, was born on 11 July 1966 in a popular district of Saïda, in western Algeria, the birthplace of Raï music (opinion). This style is then sung by women, who express their dissatisfaction with life, and the old.
- From an early age, Cheb Mami loves to sing and his voice, already powerful in 14 years, known within his region as a host of weddings and banquets. He fine-tunes his kind in Eastern cabarets of Oran, and then became famous in Algeria when he won in 1982 the second prize in a television broadcast.
- His international career will be launched by the first Raï festival in Bobigny, in 1986, when the French public discovers this music and the voice of Cheb Mami, alongside Khaled, Cheikha Rimitti and other stars of the genre. He will be a few years later the first Raï singer to have filled, alone on stage, the hall of Bercy in Paris.
- The strength of Cheb Mami is having open Raï to other styles.
- In his recordings, like "Dellali" in 2001, he does not hesitate to mix traditional instruments like oud or derbouka, and external inputs such as synthesizer, electric guitar, saxophone, drums ...
- In this sense of openness, he also proposes in his album "From South to North" in 2003 a series of duets with singers from all walks of life: "Desert Rose" with Sting, "Children of Africa" with Cornelius, "Cosi Celeste" with Zucchero, "Madanite" with Ziggy Marley, "Parisien du Nord" with K-Mel ...
- In 1998, during a transition in “La Cigale” in Paris, he drew already turns from funk, rock, rap. On a piece, "Azwaw", he appealed to three pipes, mixing Raï and Celtic.
- In 2003 he was made a Knight of the Order of Merit on the proposal of the former French president Jacques Chirac, who wanted to reward “the talent of a great artist who brought Raï in the world.”
- Cheb Mami has been the first to be admitted to the bedside of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika when he had been hospitalized in Paris for “bleeding ulcer in the stomach.”
- Ennaharonline/ M. O.