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)

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

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