Many internationally recognized and famous people have originated from Algeria. Some have been recognized politically while others have been recognized for their sporting achievements, and some for their musical talents.
One of these well-known public figures is Cheb Mami or Ahmed Khelifati Mohamed who has become widely recognized as an Algerian raï singer. Cheb was born in Saida, in the Graba-el-Oved region in 1966. Many people will only recognize his name from recent years when he collaborated with Sting, one of the most accomplished songwriters and musicians in the music industry. Together, Sting and Cheb produced a hit song called “Desert Rose” which is recognized for its uniquely different sound contributed by the Arabic singer.
From a young age Cheb Mami was an accomplished singer who astounded people with his ability to cover a vocal range of three octaves. He was first recognized for his singing abilities in Algeria at the age of sixteen when he entered a competition held nationally by “Alhan wa Chabab”, a radio and television company. It was here that a producer for Disco Maghreb and the Oran label first picked out Cheb and together they produced a total of ten cassettes in three years in both Maghribi Arabic and French.
His first public appearance as a singer was in 1985 when he took part in the First Oran Raï Festival. For many years officials did not recognize the genre Raï or its contribution to the music industry until the First Oran Festival where it was given its due recognition. For a few years Cheb Mami had to give up his music career in exchange for the military. Once that was over he went back to singing and took time to tour all around the world bringing Raï music to everyone’s attention.
Mami has done wonders with Raï music using it in its normal format all the way to incorporating more western styles like Hip Hop to give the genre a more modern feel. His music has a completely unique feel to it with a number of different influences from different countries incorporated in it. His goal of making Raï music internationally recognized has been largely successful due to Cheb Mami’s ability to combine its traditional music with more modern music forms.