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Cheb Mami: Something to Say!

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Mohamed Kélifati, real name of Cheb Mami, was born in Algeria in 1966. He was attracted by music since very early years, so he took advantage of every opportunity to sing. While still a kid he was hired by the group “Al Azhar” to perform in different clubs in Oran. When he was 16 years old, he participated in a singing contest organized by Radio Télevision Algérienne. He chose a classic song of Oranese music, “El Marsam", to participate in that contest. The audience was positively impressed by his voice and his performance. Nevertheless, the judges gave them just a second prize because he has a raï singer.

Professionally, he started recording in 1982 with the label Disco Maghreb. Although he recorded many cassettes during the three following years, he had to fight very hard in order to get the acceptance of other raï performers. He finally got it in 1985, the year wherein he was invited to participate in the First Oran Raï Festival. For the fist time, raï was recognized as a music genre by the Algerian authorities. He continued working and performing in clubs and other places with other raï performers mainly in France where he was living. His style is a combination of traditional music with the best of modern rhythms. Moroccan, Arabic, Spanish, French influences are found in the work of Cheb Mami.

Due to his particular style, he is known as “the Prince of Raï.” In 1989, he released her first international album the Prince of Raï. Two years later, he released Let Me Raï. However, some events such as the Gulf War did not allow his music to reach western audiences as he had wished. In 1994, he achieved the deserved recognition with the recording Saïda which was a tribute to his nation and home town. Following, he recorded the albums Douni El Bladi (1996), Meli Meli (1999), Dellali (2001), Du Sud au Nord (2003), and Live au Grand Rex (2004). Cheb is committed to the fight for human and children’s rights.

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