The French-Arab song repertoire (1st part)

A radio program from the European Institute for Jewish Music, hosted by Hervé Roten.

MUSIQUES JUIVES D’HIER ET D’AUJOURD’HUI – Tuesday February 16th 2016, JUDAÏQUES FM (94.8), 21H05

In the 1930’s, people around the Mediterranean sea got interested in oriental music. For the historian Benjamin Stora, this interest is the consequence of an attraction for exotism, following the colonial exposition of 1931-1932. To satisfy this interest, a new generation of singers will appear, creatings songs that mix French and Arab, with latin rythms (rumba, cha-cha-cha, tango...) or covers from French variety songs.

Therefore, by the end of the 1930’s, some of these songs – called Franco-Arabes, francarabes or oriental – are recorded by music companies in North Africa (Lili Labassi, Luisa Tounsia...). At the same time, artists - such as Salim Hallali – perform in oriental cabarets (El Djezaïr) that emerge in Paris, in particular around the Latin Quarter. After the war, new oriental cabaret will open rue de la Huchette (Les nuits du Liban, Le Tam-tam...) and also in Montmartre (Au Soleil d’Algérie).

From the 1950’s on, Paris is an essential stop for North African artists that record their biggest hits at Pathé Marconi (L’Orientale by Line Monty, song written by Youssef Hagège that will be sung as a cover by Enrico Macias 10 years after) or at Dounia, music label created by singer and producer Kalaoui el Tounsi.

With the decolonization process, and the independence of Algeria, many North African Jewish artists – such as Blond-Blond, Salim Halali, José de Suza, Lili Boniche, Maurice el Médioni, Enrico Macias... – settle in France and perpetuate the French Arab song repertoire, particularly among nostalgic « Pieds-Noirs ».

The latest publication of the magazine Je Chante ! (n°12 January 2016) in which is included an important chapter on French Arab song repertoire, is an opportunity to know better this form of artistic expression, from which we measure now the importance. Raoul Bellaïche, chief redactor of this magazine, will be the guest of these two radio programs, in which we will hear legendary songs, such as L’Orientale, Chérie combien je t’aime, Ma guitare et mon pays, El Andaloussia, Les merguez, Alger Alger, Ya oummi

Have a look at the magazine Je Chante ! n°12.
Listen to a selection of French Arab songs from EIJM collections

La chanson francarabe (partie 1) - Hervé Roten (Judaïques FM 94.8)

Listen to

In case the music player doesn't open, you must allow the opening of pop-ups for the website iemj.org in your browser settings.

  • La chanson francarabe (partie 1) - Hervé Roten (Judaïques FM 94.8)

Lire tout

You may also like

Conference: music, language and Jewish songs

Filmed conference (beneath), as part of the 1st edition of “Campus en Musique” festival, about music, languages and Jewish songs, by Hervé Roten, (…)

Du salon au front : Fernand Halphen (1872-1917), composer, patron and director of military music

A collective work published in April 2017 under the direction of Laure Schnapper, with the collaboration of Pierre-André Meyer – Preface by Hervé (…)

Discovering Jewish music: a conference by Hervé Roten

On May 3rd 2017 at 7 pm in the synagogue of Bordeaux, Hervé Roten will hold a conference on Jewish music, illustrated with many audio and video (…)

Marc-Alain Ouaknin invites Hervé Roten on his radio show « Talmudiques » broadcasted on France Culture

Radion Program on April 9 and 16 2017, from 9h10 am to 9h42 am. The blooming encounters of Jewish traditional songs with French variety gave (…)

Centennial of the passing of Fernand Halphen

For the centennial year of the passing of Fernand Halphen (1872 - 1917), several events will take place : Concerts, publication of a collective (…)