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Preview: Souad Massi to Sing at Fort Mason April 20

From the Kabyle mountains of Algeria by way of Paris, female singer-songwriter Souad Massi will appear Friday, April 20, at Cowell Theatre, Fort Mason. This will be her first Bay Area appearance in more than ten years for the 46 year-old Algerian Berber who has become a genuine superstar in world music scene. Souad Massi began her career singing in the Kabyle political rock band Atakor, before leaving Algeria following a series of death threats. When I spoke to her by telephone, Souad indicated that she prefers to leave these events of long ago in a bygone past. She visits her family every year in Algeria and has given several concerts there in recent years.

Once settled in Paris, Souad Massi honed her own unique musical style which includes pulsating Berber rhythms, quite a bit of flamenco (similar to the remarkable music on the CDs entitled Flamenco Arabe put together by Hossam Ramzy), occasionally a hint of Portuguese Fado, and even a nod to the classic French chanson. Souad Massi also sings occasionally in English, and she is likely to offer a song or two in English in San Francisco.

In addition to providing vocals, Souad Massi also plays guitar. With her CDs, Raoui (2001), Deb (2003), Mesk Elil (2005), Ô Houri (2010), and El (2015), Souad Massi has won a vast audience worldwide. We are indeed fortunate to have Souad Massi making her first local appearance here, and in the same week that Portuguese Fado singer Ana Moura performs 4/12-15 at San Francisco Jazz Center. For her Fort Mason appearance on 4/20, Souad Massi will share the program with Kiran Ahluwalia, an Indian singer-songwriter who melds Indian rhythms, African desert blues and western musical styles. Don’t miss this major event in world music!