A celebration of the common heritage of women from neighboring Saharan countries:
Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania:
NOURA MINT SEYMALI / SOUAD ASLA /DIGHYA MOH SALEM / MALIKA ZARRA
The Sahara desert has long been an object of fascination for Europeans seeking exotic sensations in what they viewed as a fantasy land full of mirages, phantasmagoric tales and mysterious women. Saharan women, however, have very little to do with the western clichés they are associated with. Sahariennes is a tribute to the vitality and artistry of women from neighboring Algeria, Morocco, The Western Sahara and Mauritania. The four extraordinary singers bring forth their common musical heritage and life stories to create a powerful musical experience.
NOURA MINT SEYMALI, who comes from a long line of griots, is the great Mauritanian singer of her generation. DIGHYA MOH SALEM despite the hardships of her life as a refugee, has spent a lifetime updating the Sarahoui tradition.
Souad Asla is a longtime advocate for women musicians from Southern Algeria - in particular in her work with the group Lemma.
MALIKA ZARRA is a Moroccan singer with a cosmopolitan flair who hopscotches between traditional music, jazz and collaborations with musicians from the most diverse horizons.
Beyond the conflicts that too often define relations between their countries, these four exceptional singers celebrate their common heritage. Whether sacred or profane, berber, tuareg or gnawa, music from all sides of the flimsy saharan borders belong to the same family. By sharing their heritage, affirming their solidarity and creating new works, these sahariennes display a common front against the tribulations of daily life and geopolitics.
Women of the region have long been the repositories of cultural tradition, the real shaman of the rituals of daily life. Their musical knowledge and virtuosity is rarely on display on public stages, but is omnipresent in the rituals of daily life - marriages, ceremonies and most social gatherings are their private stages. This is a unique opportunity to see these women create a public work.
The Sahariennes joined forces with songwriter and producer PIERS FACCINI who provided some artistic supervision.
Sahariennes premiered at the Lyon Opera House in June of 2021 and despite the pandemic, has already been showcased at major French venues and festival, including: Festival Africolor (Paris); Institut du Monde Arabe (Lille/Tourcoing) Les Traversées de Tatihou (France); Le Rocher de Palmer (Bordeaux); Théatre National d’Orléans (France)
with many more European dates already planned for 2021 and 2023
8 people on stage.
10 people on the road
Noura Mint Seymali (voice, ardin)
Souad Asla (voice, percussion)
Dighya Moh Salem (voice, table)
Malika Zarra (voice, percussion)
Jeiche Ould Chighaly (guitar, tidinit)
Mohamed Abdennour « Pti Moh » (guembri, mandole, banjo, guitare)
Anne-Laure Bourget (percussion, darbouka, cajon, daf …)
Mohammed Menni (percussion, darbouka, karkabou …)
Piers Faccini; Artistic supervision :
NOURA MINT SEYMALI
Born into a prominent line of Moorish griot, Noura began her career at age 13 as a supporting vocalist with her step-mother, the legendary Dimi Mint Abba. She was trained in instrumental and vocal technique by her grandmother, Mounina, mastering the ardine, a harp reserved only for women, and singing at weddings with family. Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, Noura's father, was himself a seminal figure in Mauritanian music and composed many works popularized by his wife, Dimi. Reared in this rich and transitive music culture where sounds from across the Sahara, the Magreb and West Africa coalesce, Noura Mint Seymali currently drives the legacy forward as one of Mauritania's most adventurous young artists.
Zarra was born in Ouled Teima, in Southern Morocco and grew up between France and Morocco. She studied jazz in French conservatories, but kept a strong interest in Gnawa, Chaabi, and other traditional styles. She moved to NY in the late 90’s where she ended up collaborating with some of the mainstays of the jazz and experimental world - from John Zorn, Lonnie Plaxico and Will Calhoun, to Arturo O’Farril, Jacques Schwarz-Bart and Gretchen Parlato. She has appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Apollo theater, the Montreal jazz festival and the Kennedy Center. She now lives in France.
Singer, composer and author Souad Asla was born in the desert town of Bechar, in southern Algeria and spent most of her career promoting the rich tradition of her native region. Drawing from Diwan, Malhoun, zeffani and gnawa, Souad mixes the the sounds of her childhood and that of the North African exiles she has worked with in Paris, the city where she spent the last twenty years. Souad is also responsible for the group Lemma, a project dedicated to the women musicians of Bechar whose musical virtuosity, traditionally contained to the private realm, she brought to European stages, to great critical acclaim.
DIGHYA MOHAMMED SALEM.
Singer Dighya Mohammad was born in 1966 in Dakhla, in the Western Sahara but grew up in a refugee camp by the Algerian border. She started playing music with the Sarahoui band Shaheed El Wali in the late 80’s and eventually ended up in France where she was granted asylum in 2018.
JEICHE OULD CHIGHALY
like his wife Noura Mint, comes from a long line of griots. He is a master of the traditional tidbit (or Ngoni) and an adventurous electric guitarist who has singlehandedly modernized the moorish sound, using quarter tones and fretless guitars, adapting Mauritanian modes to rock setting, and reaching out to western audiences with a mix of desert psychedelia and reworked traditional playing.
MOHAMMED « Pti Moh » ABDENNOUR
Mohammed Abdennour, from Algiers, learned Mandole, banjo, guitar and guembri from some of the greatest Algerian masters. After moving to France in the 1990’s, he met Amazigh Kateb with whom he started the group Gnawa Diffusion. He regularly collaborates with flamenco musician Juan Carmona and was the musical director of Chaabi orchestra El Gusto.
MOHAMMED MENNI. The Algerian percussionist spent most of the 1980’s playing with Cheb Mami, with whom he moved to France in 1989. He then met and performed with drummer and producer Karim Ziad - known for collaborating with many gnawa and jazz musicians -
ANNE-LAURE BOURGET has specialized in African and Middle Eastern percussion. She studied in France and in Cairo and can be seen in multiple contexts, including with Christine Salem, Mohamed Abozekry & Heejaz, Quartet Ziryab et Kwal.
PIERS FACCINI. A specialist of African and North African fusion, singer, songwriter, producer and No Format recording artist, Piers Faccini acted as artistic director for the project. He doesn’t, however, perform or travel with Sahariennes.