Kamel el Harrachi

Kamel El Harrachi is an algerian signer and composer, specialised in Chaâbi music. 

Mahalak Nouara, his new album,  proves that the son of Ya Rayah’s original writer is more than a legitimate heir. Faithful to the Chaâbi, Kamel perpetuates the splendour of his family name and establishes his first name.

Kamel El Harrachi has the Chaâbi music in his blood. This popular genre, born at the beginning of the 20th century in the casbah of Algiers, is inspired by Andalusian classical music, and his father was one of its most vivid symbols. 

Singing the hopes and struggles of the Algerian people and their emigrants. By introducing new instruments such as the double bass or accordion, Abderhamane Amrani, known as Dahmane El Harrachi, opened the doors of modernity to chaâbi music.   

Kamel knew very little of his father. He was born in 1973, the same year the classic song « Ya Rayah » was released, which Rachid Taha transformed two decades later into a worldwide anthem. 

From 1949 onwards Dahmane lives mostly in France, but catches up with his family to make up for lost time when he returns home. Kamel keeps nice memories from these times, a red derbouka that his father had given him and shared music sessions where father and son imagined being on television for fun, facing a mirror. He was only seven years old when Dahmane was the victim of a car accident. 

As a teenager, Kamel locked himself in his room with his guitar and records recorded by his father. He tirelessly learns to reproduce the notes, grasp the subtleties of the paternal style, assimilate his poetry, this true poetic and sincere word that had made his success. On Thursday evenings, Kamel wanders the streets of the city to listen and study the singers who, in Algiers, celebrate the beginning of the weekend. 

In the early 90’s, his own career begins. He records a first album and is frequently invited to television shows. 

He revives the world of his father whom he resembles, he seduces by his velvety voice and his agile play with the mandola lute. But during this decade the country falls into civil war and artists are privileged targets for murderous fundamentalists. Kamel in turn joins the hexagon where he frequents the diaspora of musicians.

Kamel is the heir of the chaâbi king. He is legitimized by his birth, but also by the sincere opinions of demanding masters, like the great Amar Ezzahi who encourages him to continue or the great El Hachemi Guerouabi who welcomes him for ten years in his orchestra.

In 2009 his first international record called Ghana Fenou was released, a declaration of love to the paternal work that unveiled new songs and compositions by Kamel. This album was greeted with enthusiasm and launched 5 years of touring around the world. 

Kamel does not let his first success burn his wings, rather than jumping in head first, he would rather take the time to do things right. He loves life and he loves people. He works as an educator in a psychological medical institute helping young people to cope better and his music lifts the spirit of those who hear it.

In 2019 he is ready to go back to the center of the stage. He chosees a few forgotten songs from Dahmane’s broad repertoire such as Ana LoughramAna El Moulough, Ghabou Enjoum, Bacherni Bel Khir or Ya Nass El Hob, his first love song. He revisits more famous pieces such as Bahja Bidha, Sabhiya Khebarh and Ya El Ghalet. He writes the text Mayechkach on the music of Ana Hammi Yakfaini. At the center of the album two songs, Mensabni and Mahalak Nouara, confirms the maturity of his talent as a songwriter. Kamel also composed the sumptuous arrangements that reconcile tradition and modernity. He entrusted them to outstanding musicians: Si Ali Oudane on the banjo, Ferhat Bouallagui on the violin, Reda Bouriah on the piano, Djamel Bouzerar on the tar, Nasser Oudane on the derbouka and Philippe Soriano on the double bass. 

Mahalak Nouara, gives its name to the album and can be translated as : How beautiful are you ! It is a song of love and hope addressed to Algeria. 

With Mahalak Nouara, Kamel El Harrachi perpetuates and enriches his heritage. Thanks to him the chaâbi has become a current and timeless music.


©Benjamin Minimum