Rai | Arabic Music 

I like all forms of African and Diaspora music, and have featured in this blog only the music of artists to whom I listen, and whose CDs I own.  The music featured in this blog is by no means representative of the entirety of my music collection; however, all the songs and videos that I have featured have deep personal meaning. The musicians below represent music of North Africa and the Middle East, and the genre of music they perform is one for which I have a great affinity.

In addition to writing of my experiences growing up in Africa and America, and sharing my experiences as an adherent to all three of the Abrahamic faiths; it is my goal in this blog to highlight the similarities between these three faiths versus the differences.

Although I was born Christian, my father had us convert to Islam at such an early age, that I never really bonded with that faith.  This in spite of the fact that upon our return to the States, my mother studied and became an ordained Baptist minister.  It is through my relationship with my mother, that I gain insight into what Christianity should look like, instead of what is espoused in America by the Christian Right.  That however, is a subject for another post.

Therefore, much of what I explore and write about throughout this blog, are issues and concerns related to People of the Book.  Music, art and literature are great levelers, because through each form, all human beings can find in each something of themselves.  It is with this objective in mind that I am featuring these two songs.

Although most of the music I listen to is simply for pure enjoyment, I am attracted to music that has an emphasis on social justice.  That is why I particularly like the music of Khaled.  There are many artists who perform in his same style, however, he has risen to international acclaim, and because of this, is probably more accessible.  I first discovered his music during my travels in France, and I liked the fact that he sings in both French and Arabic.

Khaled sings in the style of Rai, and he is often referred to as Cheb Khaled. Raï (English pronunciation: /ˈraɪ/; Arabic: راي‎) is a form of folk music that originated in Oran, Algeria from Bedouin shepherds, mixed with Spanish, French, African and Arabic musical forms, which dates back to the 1930s and has been primarily evolved by women in the culture. Raï literally means opinion but is colloquially used as an interjection along the lines of "oh, yeah!"

Sudanese Woman

Singers of raï are called cheb (shabb, young) as opposed to sheikh (shaykh, old), the name given to Chaabi singers. The tradition arose in cities like Oran, Relizane and Mostaganem, primarily among the poor. Traditionally sung by men, at the turn of the 20th century, female singers became common. Raï musicians as early as the 1930s were singing about social issues which affected native populations. These ranged from disease to the policing of European colonies.[1] Source: Wikipedia

Khaled's song titled Aicha is about a woman who is being wooed by a man. He promises her pearls, jewels, poems, and other luxuries and romantic things, to which she replies:

Keep your treasures, I'm worth more than all that. A cage is a cage, even if it's made of gold I want the same rights as you, And respect for each day, I don't want anything but love

The lyrics are translated from French, and the Arabic verse below was composed by Khaled and subsequently added to the original lyrics:

Nbrik Aicha ou nmout allik Hhadi kisat hayaty oua habbi, Inti omri oua inti hayati, Tmanit niich maake ghir inti.

[2] Source: Wikipedia

The following are videos of Arabic Music that I found on YouTube. I don't own CDs by these particular artists, but it was an interesting view into the diversity of Muslim people, and especially women. The first video shows the beauty of women who choose to wear the veil and how they express their inner beauty to the world through the vibrant expression of their eyes, jewelry and mannerism.

Contrary to popular belief, not all of these women are oppressed or forced to wear the veil, Hijab, Burka, or Buibui. For some it is a choice, and for others it is not a choice. The Turkish singer Gulsen is an example of a woman who is fully in command of her sexuality, and expresses her feminist views through her music and music video.

Additional Arabic Music Videos: