Halali, Salim (1920-2005)

A great voice of Oriental music

Salim Halali, whose real name is Simon Halali, is a singer-songwriter of oriental music, born July 30, 1920 in Annaba, Algeria.

Born into a Jewish family from Souk Ahras, he grew up with his 9 brothers and sisters before leaving for France around 1937. It is first in the Parisian flamenco clubs he makes himself known. His meeting with the Algerian music-hall artist Mohamed el Kamel is important. The latter wrote the first songs of Salim Halali such as Andaloussia, Sevillane, Taâli, Ardjaâ lebladek, Bine el barah oua el youm, Mounira, Nadira, El ouchq saïb, El qelb chahik... Later on, Mohamed Iguerbouchène composes some fifty other songs.

In 1938, Salim Halali began a European tour while at the same time his flamenco records in Arabic were a great success in North Africa, especially the songs Al ain zarga, Mahenni zine and Habibti samra.

Still before the war, Salim Halali performs at the Maure café of the Great Mosque of Paris, alongside renowned artists such as Ali Sriti and Ibrahim Salah. Kaddour Benghabrit, the founder and first rector of the Mosque, intellectual and musician (oud and violin), will become a friend of Salim Halali, and during the German occupation, will help to hide his Jewish origins by providing him with a false Muslim certificate and engraving the name of his late father on an anonymous grave of the Moslem cemetery of Bobigny (Seine-Saint-Denis). [[This anecdote is told in the film by Ismaël Feroukhi Free Men.

After the war, his music is very popular in Egypt, especially by the great Egyptian diva Oum Kalsoum.

In 1947, Salim Halali creates in Paris an oriental cabaret, "Ismaïlia Folies", in a mansion of the prestigious avenue Montaigne which belonged to Ferdinand de Lesseps. In 1948, he created a second entertainment venue, "Le Sérail", rue du Colisée.

In 1949, he moved to Morocco and bought an old café in the mellah of Casablanca, which he transformed into a prestigious cabaret: "The Golden Rooster". This establishment is frequented by the rich families of the country and celebrities. But "The Golden Rooster" is destroyed in a fire and Salim then returns to France, in Cannes, at the beginning of the 1960s.

Known for his attraction of extravagant evenings, he sometimes brought elephants to the gardens of his villa. In the early 1970s, his career took a new turn with a triumphal concert at the Salle Pleyel in Paris and the release of a French LP. In the years that followed, he performed regularly in Paris, Montreal and Casablanca.

In 1993, he finally stops singing and leaves for retirement home in Vallauris. He will nevertheless give a final recital on the occasion of the new year 1994, at the insistence of his friend Maurice Wizmam.

Voluntarily lonely - he forbade anyone to visit him, except for a few close friends - he died on June 25, 2005 in Antibes (Alpes-Maritimes). According to his last wishes, his ashes are scattered in Nice in the garden of memories.

[1]This anecdote is told in the film by Ismaël Feroukhi Fee Men.

Here is the video of his last public concert on the occasion of the new year 1994 :

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  • Bin el berah wel youm (EXTRAIT) - Salim Halali

  • Sidi H’bibi (EXTRAIT) - Salim Halali

  • Mahani Ezzine (EXTRAIT) - Salim Halali

  • Ya qalbi khali lhal (EXTRAIT) - Salim Halali

  • El Achaga (EXTRAIT) - Salim Halali

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