Cheikha Remitti - Aux Sources du Raï (1994)

«Definitely the first Lady of rai, Cheikha Remitti was born Saadia in the small town of Relizane in Oran. She was orphaned at an early age and as a young woman, made her daily bread by working as a dancer with a group of cheiks who performed rural music in the streets of Oran. She subsequently began to sing, performing husky and sensuous songs about the hard living and hard loving of the Algerian poor. Such songs were not new; indeed, they were a traditional feature of Algerian women's private wedding celebrations, but Remitti was one of the first to make the songs public and commercially viable, eschewing all the protocols of decency in singing of physical passion and lust. At first by word of mouth, Remitti's fame began to spread; she gained her name after buying her fans round after round of drinks to the call of "remettez" (fill them up) in a bar she happened upon during a rain storm. Remitti recorded her first records in 1936 and had to suffer criticism from the more orthodox of Muslims as well as the colonial French rulers and later from the Marxist government of post-Independence Algeria, although she had sung in support of the latter during their long struggle for national self-determination. Nevertheless, Remitti remained popular during her long years of active performing and recording. She enjoyed a revival of interest in the 1990s.» (The Leopard Man’s African Music Guide)

«They call Cheikha Remitti (the Cheikha is an honorific) the grandmother of rai for a reason -- she began singing in 1936, and since then has consistently pushed at the boundaries and limits of rai, even as she's helped define it. This live set, recorded at the Institut Du Monde Arabe in France, doesn't include versions of her earliest recordings, from 1952, but does include her singing the song which brought her to both fame and notoriety, "Charrag, Gataa," a song that broached the taboo subject of virginity, and suggested it was something best done away with, daring words from a woman in Algeria at that time. That song established her, and four years later "Debri Debri" consolidated her position as the first lady of rai. Accompanied here by gasba, derbouka, and guellal, she sings through some of her catalog (she's been a prolific composer over the years). This is real roots rai, with no affectations or modern thoughts, but the sound of Oran that's always been the bedrock of Remitti's music, with the undulation of the desert and the rich Berber past. In other words, it's probably not for someone who's just discovered rai or Remitti: this is very hardcore, demanding time and patience. But it's obvious the audience is entranced, clapping along, whooping in the appropriate places, and relishing this rare opportunity to hear someone who's become one of the genre's legends exploring her past.» (AMG)

Interview with Cheikha Remitti here

Other Profiles: العربية / Français / Deutsch / Italiano

Link in comments


Radu said...

Part 1:

Part 2:


Anonymous said...

thanks radu, especially for the booklet

Anonymous said...

Check out her album Sidi Mansour with Robert Fripp, Flea, East Bay Ray from 1994:

Enjoy, boogie

dgram said...

Very, very cool. I only have one album by Remitti, Nouar, but I love it. I hadn't expected to come across her music during my excursions in blogland. Thanks for the pleasant surprise.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!