Raised in a poor neighborhood, she starred in the Algerian film Djalti at the age of 14. She launched her musical career as a singer in Boutiba S'ghir's band and began recording with producer Rachid Baba Ahmed in the late 1970s. She was the first woman to defy the ban on women singing in clubs, and she quickly reached great success in Algeria.
She met and married Cheb Sahraoui, and the pair began recording together as a duo, starting in 1983 with "N'sel Fik (You Are Mine)", which became one of the first international raï hit records. An album of songs from those sessions was released by Mango/Island/PolyGram Records in 1989. Fadela and Sahraoui toured internationally and recorded widely in the 1980s, with further success. While in New York in 1993 they recorded the album Walli with producer and multi-instrumentalist Bill Laswell. They relocated from Algeria to France in 1994.
In the late 1990s, the professional and personal relationship between Fadela and Sahraoui broke down, and since then Fadela has continued to work as a solo singer.