|Algerian singer and guitarist Souad Massi is a celebrity with a growing global following. Her music was banned in Algeria which she fled in 1999|
33-year-old singer Souad Massi grew up in Algiers, part of a musical family, and learned to play guitar during the violent years of the civil war in Algeria.
Even so, and although her songs were banned from the radio and tv in Algeria, she built up a reputation.
Then she started receiving anonymous phone calls.
“It could have been a serious threat or just someone who was jealous of me, but I was frightened,” she said to The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Too bad if I got censored from television. At least I did it for the audience there,” she says in an interview with Gateofafrica.com where she explains what happened in Algeria.
Initially, Souad Massi had sought refuge in her parents’ native town Kabylia, but in January 1999 she was invited over to Paris to perform at a “Festival of Algerian Women”. Souad’s emotion-charged performance at the Cabaret Sauvage brought the house down and she was encouraged to extend her week’s stay in the French capital.
Her new-found French friends also encouraged her to start sending demo tapes to local record labels. Impressed by her vibrant fusion sound and her powerful folk-style vocals, a French indie label signed her on the spot. Things moved quickly after that and within the next fortnight Souad had been whisked into two tiny Parisian studios and started working.
“This beautiful young protest singer has become an equal thorn in the side for Algeria’s bearded fundamentalists and corrupt armed forces,” Radio France International wrote about Souad Massi in 2001. Recording in France, she developed a unique Oriental folk fusion sound and continues to write hard-hitting lyrics denouncing the spiral of violence and corruption in Algeria.
Today, she is still based in France, and her songs are no longer banned in her homeland.
Souad Massi’s previous album, ‘Deb’ (Heartbroken), sold 200,000 copies. Her lastest album is called ‘Mesk Elil’ (Honeysuckle).
She received an ‘Award for World Music 2005’ at the yearly BBC world music awards show.
The Sydney Morning Herald – December 31, 2005:
‘Out of the shadows’
Radio France International – 4 May, 2001:
‘Souad Massi – The Algerian Passionaria’
Souad Massi’s official home page:
|Shoot the Singer! Music Censorship Today
Edited by Marie Korpe (Executive Director, Freemuse), published by Zed Books, London.
(ISBN 1 84277 504 9 cased, ISBN 1 84277 505 7 limp)
Publication date: 18 May 2004
Governments have tried again and again to censor my music
and my ideas. In Shoot the Singer! – Music Censorship Today,
Freemuse shows over and over again that governments all
over the world will go to great lengths to silence the people.
Freemuse speaks the truth side by side with me, standing up
for my right, as well as every musician’s right to speak.
Thomas Mapfumo (Zimbabwe)
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