I don’t just stand for women, but for hu­man rights above all: Souad Massi


The Daily News Egypt - - Art & Culture - By Fatma Lotfi

“It (the re­sis­tance) is never-end­ing,” Massi told Daily News Egypt. “I am try­ing to re­sist through my lyrics and mu­sic. It be­gan at home with my fam­ily and in my coun­try, when I was try­ing to con­vince them of my de­sire to be­come an artist. De­spite their re­jec­tion at the first, even­tu­ally they sup­ported me.” Massi stated.

Massi was born in 1972, in the poor neigh­bour­hood of Bab el Oued in Al­ge­ria. Her fam­ily comes from Kabylia, the home of the Ber­ber peo­ple.

She stud­ied mu­sic, and used to play the gui­tar dur­ing her child­hood years.At an early age, Massi joined the Kabyle po­lit­i­cal rock band,Atakor, be­fore head­ing to France.

In the thick of all dif­fi­cul­ties she strug­gled with, in 1999 she found a chance to leave all the re­stric­tion over her ca­reer when she was in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in the Femmes d’Al­gérie con­cert at the Cabaret Sau­vage in France, her sec­ond home un­til now.

As a woman, Massi tol­er­ated much to ac­com­plish her dream. “Women in the Arab world face dif­fi­cul­ties in choos­ing a pro­fes­sion such as be­ing an artist, doc­tor, or an en­gi­neer,” Massi said.

She pointed out thatArab peo­ple or fam­i­lies are afraid of women be­com­ing artists. “it’s dif­fi­cult,” she noted, but Massi even­tu­ally suc­ceeded in turn­ing her dream into a re­al­ity.

Massi launched five al­bums, in­clud­ing Raoui, Deb, O Houria and Mesk Elil. She re­ceived con­sid­er­able pop­u­lar­ity not just in the Arab world, but also in Europe, due to her mu­sic and choice of re­mark­able lyrics.

Her praise among Egyp­tian fans was in­creased by her ap­pear­ance in the movie The Eyes of a Theft (2014), in which she joined Egyp­tian ac­tor Khaled Abol Naga and Jor­da­nian-Pales­tinian di­rec­tor Na­jwa Na­j­jar.

“I was very afraid at first,” Massi ad­mit­ted, “I hes­i­tated a lot be­fore ac­cept­ing the role, as I was afraid of the act­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and stand­ing be­fore cam­eras.”

How­ever, Massi said that she en­joyed her ex­pe­ri­ence, and de­scribed it as a great one. “It was filmed in Nablus. It was the only way I could sup­port the Pales­tinian cause.”

Massi, who tack­led in her songs sub­jects such as free­dom, strug­gles, and re­sis­tance, said that she does not just “stand for women, but for hu­man rights above all.”

“I am try­ing to con­sid­er­ately dis­cuss with peo­ple those rights and is­sues (in so­ci­ety) in my songs, and to con­vince them (to change) not by force.”

Massi sings in Al­ge­rian, French, English and clas­si­cal Ara­bic. She said that she care­fully chooses her lyrics, es­pe­cially the po­ems she per­forms. In her 2015 al­bum El Mu­takallimun, The Masters of Words, she re­vived the phrases of a num­ber of prom­i­nent Arab po­ets, in­clud­ing Iraqi poet Ahmed Matar, who spent most of his life in ex­ile due to his crit­i­cal po­ems of Arab lead­ers.

“We go through many things.We read a lot, so we get in­flu­enced by writ­ers and po­ets, which helps me in writ­ing lyrics,” Massi elab­o­rated.

She added that she stud­ied mu­sic in Al­ge­ria.“Ad­di­tion­ally, I was lucky to have lived in France, and to have been sur­rounded by global artists who af­fected my char­ac­ter.”

Dur­ing a two-hour live con­cert, Massi chose to per­form her new Egyp­tian di­alect song, named Salam, ‘good­bye’.“It was writ­ten by Nader Ab­dal­lah, and com­posed by Khaled Ezz,” Massi men­tioned.

Ad­di­tion­ally, she pre­pared ex­tra new songs, in­clud­ing two po­ems, one for Pales­tinian poet Mah­moud Dar­wish called I love you, and an­other for Baha’ Al-din Zuhair called My Lord.

The two songs, in ad­di­tion to Salam, will be in­cluded in her new col­lec­tion and al­bum.

Massi said that there will be no new forth­com­ing cin­ema ex­pe­ri­ence soon, yet she re­vealed that her sixth al­bum will be launched in Au­gust next year.

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