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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
Ali Slimani
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Describe the atmosphere and live music at a local pub, restaurant, festival, church or temple, club night.... inspire other people to check it out!

Musician: Ali Slimani

Location: London

Instruments: darbuka / bendir / kbakeb / voice

Music: Rai fusion

Listen  Listen (4'29) to Ali Slimani play 'Espoir ('Hope')'

Ali Slimani will be the main DJ at a new night club which opens every Friday evening starting from Friday 30 January at London Bridge. It will play music that's hard to find in London such as North African ( Rai ), Middle Eastern and Mediterranean music. Read more

'It's a mixture of all the different styles of Algeria, like chaabi, rai, Berber and Sahraoui music. And of course a little dub! '.

How I came to this music:

I grew up in a neighbourhood of Algiers called El Anasser. It's next to the huge 20 Août football stadium where I used to go and play darbuka during the games to encourage the players. Music was always in my mind. In the late 1970s, my friends and I used to listen to reggae like Bob Marley and Alpha Blondy, but also other foreign groups like The Bee Gees and Boney M.

At that time, rai music wasn't really on the TV in Algeria, but there was a lot of chaabi music. But once I heard Cheb Khaled play, he made a big impression on me and later became a good friend. In the early 1980s I went to Paris and started busking. Through meeting an English girl, I was persuaded to go over to London. It was very hard at first but I found myself a niche DJing at functions like weddings, so making a name for myself in the Algerian community here.

I eventually got a couple of regular spots in clubs and my big break came when I was asked to DJ at the first London gig by Chaba Fadela and Cheb Sahraoui. Because of that, my work came to the attention of Jah Wobble, who invited me to join his group Invaders of the Heart in 1990.

Ali SlimaniFor the next four years I played percussion and sang with them. We toured Canada, Australia and Japan, among other places. I learnt many things with them and my singing improved. Through them I met Sinéad O'Connor and then I started doing my own album Mraya, which came out on Real World Records in 1995. It was a rai dub album and Sinéad and Natasha Atlas were guests, as well as all the Invaders of the Heart.

Since then I've been touring and meeting more people. It's taken me a long time to find a new sound for my second album Espoir, which came out this March. It's a mixture of all the different styles of Algeria, like chaabi, rai, Berber and Sahraoui music. And of course a little dub!

Where I play:

I'm doing a lot of festivals this summer in Italy, France and Ireland and a gig at The National Theatre in London. In the rest of the U.K. I'm doing the Larmer Tree festival and then WOMAD. And I still get calls to do weddings with my band, which includes two Algerian, two English, and one Danish musician.

A favourite song:

The song Espoir ('Hope') is about peace in Algeria. Hopefully ­ God willing ­ there will be peace in Algeria. We need to come back to how it used to be. I think we need to talk to each other. It's not someone else. Algerian to Algerian. It's going well now in Algeria. A lot of people are going back and I'm going this year. The situation there is calming down very much. People now understand that we need peace, Inshallah.

Catch Ali Slimani live at WOMAD in Reading as one of our World on your Street showcases (Saturday 26 July at 5pm on the Village Stage). Read more about Ali on our WOMAD 2003 website.

Visit Ali Slimani's own website at
Click here for Hande Domac's storyClick here for Mosi Conde's storyClick here for Rachel McLeod's story

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