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raï french born algerian

Dubbed “The Little Prince of Raï” (Le Petit Prince du Raï), Faudel—born Faudel Belloua—is one of the most widely recognized raï performers to have emerged in the 1990s. Modern raï, a fusion of European pop and traditional North African music, emerged out of Algeria in the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, most of its development has taken place within France where many Algerian-born raï artists established themselves. Faudel is credited with having kept the genre popular among a younger generation of French North Africans, and his linguistic and musical experimentation has given him a relatively distinctive identity within the world of raï.


One of eight children, Faudel was born 6 June 1978 to Algerian immigrant parents in the Val Fourré district of Mantes-la-Jolie, a suburb of Paris known for its large immigrant population. He is part of a large French subpopulation of beurs (an accepted and widely used slang term for French North Africans and Arabs).

At age twelve, Faudel began singing. At fifteen he met his future manager, Mohamed Mestar, and several musicians with whom he would later collaborate. With Mestar’s help, Faudel landed gigs in the early 1990s opening for the popular French hip-hop artist MC Solaar and other high-profile artists. These performances increased his exposure on the French music scene and attracted some media attention, most notably from the French television station Canal+, which featured Faudel as part of a program on France’s beurs .

Faudel’s major career break came in 1996 at a performance at Printemps de Bourges when a Mercury Records agent signed Faudel to a five-album contract. Baïda , Faudel’s first Mercury-released album, came out in 1997. The album brought Faudel into the popular music sphere, particularly among French Algerians, in part because of the hit singles “Tellement je t’aime (Tellement N’Brick)” (So much I love you)—perhaps the song still best identified with the singer—and “Dismoi” (Tell me). The album also earned Faudel the title of Révélation de l’année (Newcomer of the Year) at France’s 1999 Victoires de la Musique awards.

The enormous popularity of Baïda and “Tellement je t’aime” garnered Faudel an invitation to perform alongside raï icons Khaled and Rachid Taha in the September 1998 “1 2 3 Soleils” concert in Bercy, France. The concert, a record-breaking commercial and popular success for raï, sealed Faudel’s induction into the pantheon of raï’s most popular performers. The concert itself was sold out; sales and circulation of the CD and DVD have remained strong nearly ten years later.

Following these initial major performances, Faudel’s musical tastes departed somewhat from his more traditional raï beginnings. His next album, Samra , released in 2001 on the Ark 21 label, was coproduced and mixed by Nabil Khalidi, who had worked with Rachid Taha, and Tokyo-born international producer and mix artist Goh Hotoda. Musically, similar to older raï, it incorporated Turkish and Andalusian influences. Melodies and rhythms on many tracks were also heavily salsa-influenced. The track “Salsa-raï”, recorded with Colombian artist Yuri Buenaventura, is perhaps the most conspicuous example of Faudel’s early incorporation of Latin musical styles in his raï songs.

On Un Autre Soleil , released in 2003 by Mercury, Faudel continued to mix Latin sounds into his raï. He also collaborated with other beur artists, including Algerian native Stephane Mellion of French rock group Les Négresses Vertes, and members of popular music group Zebda.

His 2006 Mercury album, Mundial Corrida , incorporated more French-only songs than previous albums. Lyrics he contributed to his 2003 and 2006 albums were influenced by the February 2002 birth of his son, Enzi.

Since 1999, Faudel has also pursued an interest in acting. His film appearances include major roles in Laurent Firode’s Le Battement d’ailes du papillon (2000) and Merzak Allouache’s Bab el Web (2005), filmed in Algeria. His television appearances include a role in 1999’s television movie Jésus and the title role in 2002’s Sami, le pion .


Faudel has attributed his ambition to perform raï to family influences: His grandmother and aunts performed as singers at community events in Algeria, and many of his siblings shared musical talents. As an adolescent, Faudel collaborated with one of his brothers, Farès, and childhood friends in Mantes-la-Jolie to form the band Les Etoiles du Raï. Their group performed covers of hit songs by raï masters (Cheb) Khaled and Cheb Mami, Faudel’s early artistic inspirations. In the mid-1990s, prior to the “1 2 3 Soleils” concert, Khaled became a mentor to Faudel and occasionally performed with him.


Name: Faudel (born Faudel Belloua)

Birth: 1978, Mantes-la-Jolie, France

Family: Son, Enzi, born February 2002

Nationality: French Algerian


  • 1997: Baïda , first major album, released, with “Tellement je t’aime” as its hit single
  • 1998: Performs alongside Khaled and Rachid Taha in the “1 2 3 Soleils” concert
  • 1999: Named “Revelation de l’annee” at the Victoires de la Musique awards; first screen appearance in the television movie Jésus
  • 2002: Birth of son; first performance in Algiers
  • 2005: Appears in Merzak Allouache’s Bab el Web

One of the first of his generation to do so, Faudel drew on social experiences different from those of his Algerian-born predecessors. As part of France’s post-1970 beur population, Faudel, similar to many of his peers, faced difficulties due to his status as living in between two societies. In France, where North Africans have faced economic and social discrimination for decades, beurs have often been considered outsiders despite being French-born. Meanwhile, beurs who return to North Africa have been frequently regarded as more French than North African, and many have faced resentment for having what are perceived to be better living situations in France. Faudel’s ability to identify with these experiences and incorporate them into his music set him apart from earlier raï singers and won him a large beur fan base.

Faudel’s albums were among the first to include liner notes with colloquial Algerian Arabic lyrics translated into French, indicating a recognition that his audience largely comprises a generation whose first language is no longer the Algerian Arabic dialect. His lyrics have consistently dealt with romance, a classic raï theme, and with the conditions of second-generation Algerians in France. His music has also contributed to the growing trend of heavily blending Latin sounds and rhythms with raï.


Faudel’s international fame among raï fans in France and Algeria spread following his “1 2 3 Soleils” performance. Since 1998, he has toured in the United States, Egypt, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and elsewhere in the Middle East. In 2002, to mark the fortieth anniversary of Algerian independence, Faudel gave his first concert in Algiers—a performance he has said prompted him to further explore his Algerian roots. Similar to Khaled, Mami, and other major raï artists, Faudel has also collaborated with artists from other genres and other regions of the globe, including Turks, Lebanese and Latin Americans.

The increasing use by Faudel of French-only songs has met with mixed responses: On the one hand, this has made him more accessible to non-North African audiences; on the other, it has garnered him criticism by raï purists who reject the categorization of French-only songs as raï. Faudel is sometimes criticized for being less adept at singing in colloquial Algerian Arabic than in French.


Observers have identified Faudel as the standout among French-born Algerian raï artists known as the raï-beur group; France’s younger beurs have continued to embrace raï as a cultural symbol thanks in part to his music. His popularity has encouraged a younger generation of French-born North Africans to pursue careers in raï, and his success has convinced major record labels of the marketability of raï-beur singers .


I don’t know this sun
That burns the dunes without end
I don’t know any other land
Than that which gave me her hand
And if, one day, I leave here
To cross the desert
To go to see where my life comes from
The streets where my father played
I who was born near Paris
Under all this wind, all this rain
I will never forget my country

Too many memories engraved
Of school hallways and summers
Too much love to forget
That it was here I was born
Too much time abandoned
On my city’s benches
Too many friends to forget
That it was here I was born

Original French:
Je n’connais pas ce soleil
Qui brûle les dunes sans fin
Je n’connais pas d’autre terre
Que celle qui m’a tendu la main
Et si un jour, je pars d’ici
Que je travers le desert
Pour aller voir d’où vient ma vie
Dans quelles rues jouait mon père
Moi qui suis né près de Paris
Sous tout ce vent, toute cette pluie
Je n’oublierai jamais mon pays

Trop de souvenirs graves
De cours d’écoles et d’étés
Trop d’amour pour oublier
Que c’est ici que je suis né
Trop de temps abandonné
Sur les bancs de ma cite
Trop d’amis pour oublier
Que c’est ici que je suis né

Fauset, Arthur Huff(1899–1983) - Anthropologist, educator, Prepares for Career, Chronology [next] [back] Fathers of the Church

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over 4 years ago

his son's name is Enzyyyyyyyyy not Enzi

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almost 5 years ago

Madame, Monsieur,

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Ce dictionnaire est destiné aux professeurs, aux étudiants et aux élèves, aux journalistes, aux chercheurs, aux intellectuels et à tous ceux qui veulent découvrir la vie des Femmes et des Hommes qui ont écrit par leurs actes l’Histoire du continent africain.
J’espère que vous allez considérer cet ouvrage comme le meilleur cadeau que vous pourrez offrir à celui ou à celle qui se passionne pour l’Afrique.
Je vous remercie de partager ma passion et vous souhaite toute la satisfaction nécessaire à sa lecture et sa diffusion.


Coordonnées de l’éditeur pour toute commande :
Monsieur Christian LUTZ
Le Cri édition,
Avenue Léopold Wiener
18 - 1170 Bruxelles
Christian lutz.lecri@skynet.be
Tél ++32 2 646 65 33
Fax +32 (0)2 646 66 07

Mention :
Dictionnaire biographique des Africains
Dictionnaire, 832 pp, 2012
ISBN 978-2-8710-6567-8
40,00 €

Minisite de l’auteur :