What better on a relaxed holiday day than listening to Hachemi Guerouabi, grand master of chaâbi music (people’s or folk music) from Algiers?
Chaâbi came from working class areas in Algiers’ casbah. Its singers generally were city people displaced from rural areas. They took melody from the classical Andalusian music that came to North Africa in the fifteenth century but changed that music through new tone, phrasing and topics. The music included traditional proverbs and discussion of politics, love and loss. It spoke to people whose rural lives had been destabilized by colonial land policies.
Here’s the CD I’m listening to today, from Horizon Cassettes located in Bouzaréah, a suburb of Algiers. I can’t find lyrics for these tracks yet but love the mood and sound. I’d better get set up to share tracks, too, so you can hear them! But you can check Guerouabi out on You Tube or Spotify in the meantime.