Souad Massi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Souad Massi
Souad Massi at TFF Rudolstadt 2013.
Souad Massi at TFF Rudolstadt 2013.
Background information
Born (1972-08-23) August 23, 1972 (age 49)
Algiers, Algeria
GenresRock, Country, Fado, Algerian folk music, World music
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar
Years active1989–present
LabelsIsland, Naïve Records,

Souad Massi (سعاد ماسي), (born August 23, 1972), is an Algerian Berber singer, songwriter and guitarist. She began her career performing in the Kabyle political rock band Atakor, before leaving the country following a series of death threats. In 1999, Massi performed at the Femmes d'Algérie concert in Paris, which led to a recording contract with Island Records.

Massi's music, which prominently features the acoustic guitar, displays Western musical style influences such as rock, country or the Portuguese fado but sometimes incorporates oriental musical influences and oriental instruments like the oud as well as African musical stylings. Massi sings in Classical Arabic, Algerian Arabic, French, occasionally in English, and in the Kabyle Berber language, often employing more than one language in the same song.

Childhood and early bands[edit]

Massi was born in Algiers, Algeria to a poor family of six children. She grew up in the working-class Bab El Oued neighborhood of Algiers and took up singing and playing the guitar at an early age.[1]

[2] Encouraged by her older brother, she began studying music at a young age, singing and playing guitar.[2] Growing up, she immersed herself in American country and roots music – musical styles that would later strongly influence her songwriting.[3] At the age of 17, she joined a flamenco band, but quickly grew bored and left.

Massi performing in 2005

In the early 1990s, Massi joined the Algerian political rock band Atakor, who were influenced by Western rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and U2. She recorded and performed with the group for seven years, releasing a successful album and two popular music videos.[4] The band, however, with its political lyrics and growing popularity, became a target. Massi disguised herself by cutting her hair and dressing in male clothing, but she nevertheless became the target of a series of anonymous death threats.[2] In 1999, she left the band and moved to Paris, France.

Personal life[edit]

Souad Massi currently lives in Paris, France with her French-Moroccan husband Mohammed and their two daughters Inji and Amira. She is a fan of Leonard Cohen and has listed the music from AC/DC and INXS as having been among her formative influences.[5][6]

Solo career[edit]

In 1999, Massi was invited to perform at the Femmes d'Algérie ("Women of Algeria") festival in Paris, which led to a recording contract with Island Records.[7] In June 2001, she released her solo debut album, Raoui ("Storyteller"), which Allmusic compared to 1960s American folk music.[8] Sung mostly in French and Arabic, the album became a critical and commercial success in France.[4] The following year, she was nominated for "Best Newcomer" at the Radio 3 World Music Awards.[9]

In 2003, she released her second album, Deb ("Heartbroken"). The album's lyrics were more personal, rather than political, and it became one of the most successful North African albums worldwide.[10] Three years later, Massi released her third album, Mesk Elil ("Honeysuckle"). The album expanded on the themes of love and loss that had been explored on Deb, and featured duets with Daby Toure and Rabah Khalfa. She was the Italian variety show's guest star "Non facciamoci prendere dal panico" in 2006 by Italian singer and showman Gianni Morandi.

In 2010, she released her fourth studio album Ô Houria. This album was produced by Francis Cabrel and Francoise Michel. It features Paul Weller on piano and vocals on its closing song.


Solo albums[edit]

Preceded by
Victoires de la Musique
World music album of the year
Mesk Elil
by Souad Massi

Succeeded by
by Agnès Jaoui


  1. ^ Kasolowsky, Raissa. "Just A Minute with Algerian singer Souad Massi". Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  3. ^ "Africa's shining music stars". BBC News. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Souad Massi". African Musician Profiles. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  5. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved March 14, 2018. Cite uses generic title (help)
  6. ^ "Womadelaide is back with new soul". March 1, 2013.
  7. ^ Martin Longley (October 14, 2005). "Souad Massi: Outcast in her native land". The Independent. Archived from the original on June 29, 2007. Retrieved April 27, 2009.
  8. ^ Chris Nickson. "Review of Raoui", Allmusic. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  9. ^ "Belly dancing in the aisles - Music - Arts - Evening Standard". Archived from the original on September 18, 2012.
  10. ^ "Souad Massi (Algeria)". BBC Radio 3. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  11. ^ Wrasse Records 096, booklet contains English translations of sung texts only

External links[edit]