Cheb Mami

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Cheb Mami
شاب مامي
Cheb Mami in 1986
Cheb Mami in 1986
Background information
Birth nameMohamed Khelifati
محمد خليفاتي
Born (1966-07-11) 11 July 1966 (age 55)
Saïda, Algeria
  • Musician
  • singer-songwriter
Years active1982–present
Associated acts

Mohamed Khelifati (Arabic: محمد خليفاتي‎, muḥammad khalīfātī), better known by his stage name Cheb Mami (Arabic: شاب مامي‎, shābb māmī, born 11 July 1966), is an Algerian musician and singer-songwriter. He sings and speaks in Algerian Arabic and sometimes in French or Eastern Arabic dialects.


Cheb Mami was born in Graba-el-wed (Arabic: غربة الواد), a populous quarter of Saïda (Arabic: سعيدة), Algeria. Located 170 kilometres south of Oran, the city of Saida is on the high mesas of northwestern Algeria.[2]


It was in 1985 that Mami came to Paris and found his musical niche.

He was in military service for two years in Algeria but was an entertainer on army bases. After that, in May 1989, Mami returned to Paris at the Olympia, rejuvenating Raï music. He also toured the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Scandinavia and England.

Mami's music is a blend of Mediterranean and Western influences including Turkish, Flamenco and Greek music as well as Latin music. His voice is tinged with Andalusian accents, and his music is an amalgamation of the traditional and the modern styles of singing and creation of music.

International recognition[edit]

When Sting's album Brand New Day was released in 1999, the pair's duet, "Desert Rose", appeared on singles charts around the world, and led to television appearances on Saturday Night Live, the Today Show, Jay Leno, David Letterman, the Grammy Awards telecast and even a live performance at the Super Bowl.[3]

Arrest, imprisonment and release[edit]

Mami was under an international arrest warrant after being indicted in October 2006 for "voluntary violence, sequestration and threats" against an ex-wife, and failing to answer a court summons on 14 May 2007. He was accused of having tried to force Isabelle Simon, his former girlfriend and a magazine photographer, to have an induced abortion.[4] During a trip to Algeria in the summer of 2005, Isabelle Simon was locked in a house belonging to one of Mami's friends, where an abortive procedure was attempted on her. Back in France, however, she realized the fetus was still alive; she later gave birth to a daughter. Mami had accused his manager Michel Lecorre (a.k.a. Michel Levy) of organizing the abortion plan; Michel Levy was later sentenced to four years for plotting and organizing the assault.[5][6][7][8]

Mami was arrested in France several days before his trial; he was taken into custody by officials at a Paris airport as he arrived in the country from Algeria on 22 June 2009.[9] The following July, a Paris court found him guilty of drugging and attempted forcible abortion, and sentenced him to five years in prison.[10]

On 21 September 2010, his lawyers applied for conditional release, a request that was turned down on 12 October 2010.[11] Upon a second appeal however, the French court agreed for his conditional release on 23 March 2011.[12]


In July 2015, Cheb Mami had to compensate 200,000 euros to Cheb Rabah (born Rabah Zerradine) for plagiarizing his texts. The songs in question are "Le raï c'est chic", "Madanite", "Ma vie deux fois", and "Gualbi Gualbi".[13]

Selected discography[edit]

  • Douni El Bladi (1986)
    • Tracks: Ana Mazel  • Dertfik Confiance  • Douni El Bladi  • Lella Rani Ensaaf El Mektoub  • Ralia Mahboubit Galbi  • Tayo Tayo Adiani
  • Let Me Raï (1990)
    • Tracks: Yo Yo  • Haoulou V1  • Let Me Cry  • Douha Alia  • Fatma V2  • Rah Eddani  • Khalihoum  • Maandi  • Manimane
  • Saida (1994)
    • Tracks: H'babi  • Ma Ma  • Gaulbak K'ssah  • Hay Wadi Hay Galbi  • Bent Bareh  • Baida  • Ghi N'Ti  • Li Fet ghi Mnem  • Zouaji  • Alache Alache  • Trab
  • Ouach Tsalini (1996)
    • Tracks:  • Ouach Etsalini  • Idha Enti Bitik  • Chedi Bentek  • Maniche Aadouk  • Ghebnouha  • Sehrane Ouahdi  • Alauni (Instrumental)
  • Meli Meli (1999)
    • Tracks: Meli Meli  • Alache Alik  • Bledi  • Rani Maak El Youm  • Fatma  • Hada Ch'h  • Hatachi  • Bekatni  • Cheikh  • Azwaw  • Parisien du Nord  • Marseillais du Nord  • Au Pays des Merveillus  • Azwaw Alternative
  • Dellali (2001)
    • Tracks: Raï C'est Chic  • Viens Habibi  • Madanite  • Rim Lachoua  • Yahamami  • Ana Oualache  • Ma Vie 2 fois  • Tzazae V2  • Zarartou  • Mamazareh V2  • Machi Chaba  • Hoaulou V2  • Khalouni
  • Lazrag Saani (1991)
    • Tracks: Lazrag Saani  • Zazarkhatri V1  • Rouhi Douri Yalala  • Mani Sabar  • Madiriche Aliya  • Hay Delali
  • Du Sud au Nord (2003)
  • Live au Grand Rex (2004)
    • Tracks: Azwaw  • Parisien du Nord  • Nagumo feat. Susheela Raman  • Mamzareli  • Mazal Souvenir Aandi  • Desert Rose  • Koum Tara feat. Enrico Macias  • Bledi - Mon pays  • Cosi Celeste feat. Zucchero  • Alache Alik  • Meli Meli  • Des 2 Côtés feat. Mous et Hakim  • Haoulou  • Zarartou
  • Layali (2006)
    • Tracks: Halili feat. Zaho  • Gualbi Gualbi  • Inshallah  • Tigi Tigi  • Gaiye bil Salama  • Ahla Layali Omrina  • Ajlissou  • Nos Couleurs feat. K.Maro  • Mama Dabia  • Ellie Beina Intaha  • Amshi Btraring  • Non c'sera non (Omri Omri) feat. Sween
  • MamaZareh (1992)
    • Tracks: MamaZareh V1  • Ha Dellali  • Mouhal  • Loumek  • Hadi Kassa  • Ma Tebkich
  • Fatma Fatma (1989)
    • Tracks: Fatma Fatma V1  • Khallouni Nebki  • Ghir El Baida Ouana  • Lebnat Hadjou  • Alache Tloumouh  • Ahleftlek Belimine
  • Duo Avec Cheba Zahouania (1987)


  1. ^ Azpiri, Jon. "Cheb Mami – Dellali". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Rai rebel". Detroit Metro Times.
  3. ^ Rosenberg, Dan. (2001). "Cheb Mami." Afropop Worldwide. Accessed 19 March 2008 from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 March 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Afrik with El Watany: L’avocat de Michel Lévy répond à Cheb Mami (in French)
  5. ^ "Cheb Mami sentenced to five years in forced abortion case". 3 July 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  6. ^ "Arrest Warrant Issued For Algerian Singer". Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  7. ^ ""French issue international warrant for Algerian singer Cheb Mami"". Retrieved 29 May 2007.
  8. ^ « Cheb Mami retourne devant le tribunal » Archived 26 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine,, Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  9. ^ "Rai star 'forced French abortion'". 30 June 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Rai star jailed for abortion bid". 3 July 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  11. ^ Le Parisien: Cheb Mami, la star du raï, reste en prison (in French)
  12. ^ Le Figaro: Cheb Mami est en liberté conditionnelle (in French)
  13. ^ "La star du raï Cheb Mami et EMI condamnés pour plagiat". Retrieved 5 October 2015.