Cheikha Remitti, a staunch feminist, started singing in the 40s and 50s on the difficulties of being a woman and introduced the notion of carnal pleasure in music. But her thematic fields do not stop there. As a very creative author, she has explored multiple forms of love of which friendship, while also discussing alcohol, forced emigration and thus angered moralists. She has also described the life of nomads and transhumant. No subject has escaped the wisdom of the cheikha, including modern tools such as phones and high-speed trains or even love, bread, fantisity and alcohol. Her songs, for those of us who know how to decipher the refrains and to appreciate her half cheeky, half vehement tone, teach us about the attraction of women to light. Through her audacity dipped in humour or vitriol, Remitti has shocked more than one puritan soul. She, who dared to sing an ode to Emir Abdelkader in Jewish cafés right in the middle of the war for liberation, was going to become subject to the thunders of the National Liberation Front’s censorship upon independence. The El Moujahid daily did not stop attacking this “folklore perverted by colonialism”, without naming her in person.
Rediscovered by a new generation, Remitti, very impressive on stage as was the case during her performance in the Arab World Institute in February 1994, may be perceived as a visionary. Her songs, pounded since nearly half a century, have never been so close to the immediate reality of the history of the Algeria of the 90’s, the years of living dangerously. Especially for women for whom Remitti has been the most audacious and lucid speaker.
Cheikha Remitti was 83 years old when she died in 2006. She used to be called « Grandma of raï » and is still considered as the leading female representative of this musical genre.
Available album : The sources of the Raï