following in the footsteps of a berber legend

Why a biography about Idir ? The reasons are many, many. Because the artist, who passed away in May 2020 at the age of 75, is not just any musician. “Idir is not a singer like the others. He is a member of each family”, the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu said of him. Because the one who became an interpreter by accident has marked several generations on both sides of the Mediterranean and beyond. Because listening to Idir is going back in time and undertaking an initiatory and political journey. With Idir, a kabyle of the world (Editions du Rocher), Farid Alilat makes us follow, step by step, the path traveled by the immense artist. The journalist from young africa he surveyed about forty witnesses who lived, worked or sang with idir. A lot of information.

Suddenly, out of the blue, Algeria discovered a new sound and lyrics that broke through the official cultural straitjacket of the 1970s.Algeria authoritarian of President Houari Boumediene, a generation of artists, called by the writer kateb yacine “the maquisards of song”brings a new look, a new narrative that cracks, with notes and subversive poetry, the singularity imposed by the regime. “In this Algeria of the early 1970s, the Boumediene regime fiercely opposed the promotion of the Berber language. A new generation of young singers emerged to carry this Kabyle language and identity”says Farid Allilat.

“We knew traditional singing with mandola or heavy orchestration, violin melodies inspired by oriental song. We discover a young man of 28 years, alone, with his guitar and the texts of him that he sings as we had never heard him sing ”

Farid Alilat, biographer

“Idir, a kabyle of the world”

The artist who brought his people to the world (it is difficult to speak of Idir in the past tense, especially since his stage name means “will live” in Kabyle) has always advocated a peaceful plural identity. The French public discovered him in 1975 with his song a vava inouva, broadcast on France Inter by Jean-Pierre Elkabbach. Immediate success. The song has been translated into twenty languages. It is the result of work and complicity with the poet ben mohamed, who wrote almost a dozen texts to him. In Ben Mohamed the roots, in Idir the wings. Farid Alilat covers Idir’s career in France and brings us his latest album (here and elsewhere) with the great names of French song.

DOn the night of May 2-3, 2020, El Hamid Cheriet, his real name, passed away at the Bichat hospital in Paris. Idir, his stage name, is still alive.

Idir, a kabyle of the world, by Farid Alilat, published by Rocher (April 2022)

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