Cheikha Rimitti


Algerian folk singer known as the 'mother of Rai music' With her huskily sensual voice and licentious songs Cheikha Rimitti, one of the legends of the Algerian Rai music scene, broke just about every taboo in her native country that appealed the poor and appalled the orthodox. Rimitti was one of the first to sing songs of lust in public and did so in the earthy language of the street, using a rich blend of slang and patios. She eventually composed more than 200 songs but remained illiterate all her life. She made her first records in 1952 under the name Cheikha Remettez Reliziana and had her first big success two years later with a song called Charag Gatta, a celebration of carnal love. It was not until the 1970s that she was first heard outside North Africa for the growing number of Algerian immigrants in France. In the 1990s Rimitti started appearing at festivals and recording with rock musicians, under the genre of world music, to a new Western audience all over the world but France in particular. The legendary figure in North Africa whose singing career spanned over 70 years was banned from radio and television when Algeria won its independence from France in 1962. Cheikha Rimitti, an accomplished dancer who delighted the crowds, gave her last concert at the Zenith in Paris to a rapturous audience of over 4,500, just 48 hours before her death. Born Saadia in Tessala, a small village in Western Algeria and orphaned as a child, Cheikha Rimitti grew up in poverty - making her clothes out of the covers of old mattresses.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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