Salam Kader, 

I just wanted to thank you and your team for coming over for our wedding. Everyone there was very impressed with your performance and it added something different and special to the wedding. I hope you all had a safe flight home. 

Kind Regards, 
Aicha & Khalil

Ancient Rai-thms
By Paul Revel

Rai meaning a way of seeing or a thought has ancient origins. Bedouin and Berber traditions fused to form sung poetry called Malhun, using traditional north African wind and percussion instruments. This was combined with Andalusian music which came to north Africa when the Moors were thrown out of Spain in 1492.

Modern Rai takes these elements and mixes them with heavy dance rhythms and western instruments such as electric guitars, strings and brass.

The music is already popular in Europe France's large north African population has made Rai a part of French culture and it is now catching the British imagination.

After living and performing in Paris, Saadoun came to Britain in the eighties and formed his first band.

He has performed at major UK festivals including Womad and the National Theatre, as well as the World Peace Music Awards in Bali and Greece.

He has broadened the horizons of Rai, using jazz and rap, and singing in French or English together with Arabic, in its authentic Algerian dialect.

He says: "My music is unique, because I mix the influences of the artists I work with. The music is a real fusion, there is something for everyone."

His current line-up features bass guitar, trombone, trumpet, drums, percussion, and on piano, eminent Jazz keyboard player and composer Steve Lodder, who has worked with the likes of Paul McCartney.

Saadoun says: "I think musicians enjoy playing with me because we do a lot of improvisation, so they can express themselves."

He writes most of his material himself. His new album Freedom, reflects on the world's hopes and conflicts. It includes the ballad, Inch'Allah.

He explains: "Inch'Allah means God willing. The lyrics come from letters I wrote to my mother back in Algeria, about my worries and fears for the world's troubles and wars. It is a message."

When not engaged in a pop star's duties, Saadoun teaches music to children at Greenwich Music Services, which provides musical learning opportunities for local kids.

He would love to get the backing to open a centre for children to learn music and art (he is also an avid painter, sharing a studio in Greenwich for many years.)

He says: "I want kids to have opportunities, give them choices I never had I made my first guitar from a box with bicycle brake wires for the strings. Children are the future."

Saadoun is looking forward to his launch party at the Marquee Club in the West End.

"I am very excited, it's going to be the best night in town."

Guest acts include celebrity DJ's, his old friend Margaret Higginson heading up the Shake Shock Belly Dancers, Greenwich blues band Billy Cliff, and of course Saadoun and his band.

"I love our live gigs when we are on stage, the audience feel part of it we get them on board. We really rock the place."

-Freedom album launch party featuring Abdelkader Saadoun and band with visual projections by Nigel Sadler, The Marquee Club, Leicester Square, London, November 30, 7pm, £8-£12, 08700 600 100.

2:10pm Monday 22nd November 2004 – News Shopper


A Rai of soothing melodies
Steve Meunier

30 September 2008

London-based band Takalid has music-lovers swooning at Mall of the Emirates 

ABDELKADER SAADOUN, KNOWN as the ‘King of Rai,’ is currently wowing visitors to Mall of the Emirates with his four piece band; ‘Takalid;’ playing unique Algerian-based melodies that chime with the spirit of Ramadan. 

Takalid have been playing together for three years and are based in London, although the band members’ roots are Algerian. Abdelkader, the group’s eponymous leader, was keen to provide an insight into both Takalid and the musical style that gave rise to his moniker; ‘King of Rai.’

“Basically Rai music came about in 1930s Algeria, which fused traditional music with Western elements,” he said, speaking in between performances. “I play this style of music with the Abdelkader Saadoun band, where we mix jazz fusion into our performances. Takalid, which is my other line up and the one playing here, focuses more on traditional rhythms, tunes and costumes from Algeria,” he added.

The group have travelled extensively around the world promoting their music; visiting countries such as Spain, Italy, Japan and Indonesia. They have now added Dubai to their touring itinerary.

Takalid are not just about entertainment, although they perform this role with obvious aplomb. They are also committed to education, teaching others how to engage with music through regular workshops conducted at schools in the UK. Following their stint at the Mall of the Emirates, the group flies to Bahrain, where they will be playing at the newly opened Bahrain City Centre.

Those wishing to catch Takalid live here in Dubai should waste no time, as the band play their final sets at the Mall of the Emirates on Tuesday, September 30. The performances are being held in the mall’s Galleria, with three sets being played at 21:45, 22:45 and 23:30.


King of Rai pays a visit

If you are unfamiliar with Rai music then acquaint yourself to this style through the performance of Abdelkader Saadoun, at the Braithwaite Hall, Croydon Clocktower, Katharine Street, on Friday, January 31 at 8.30pm.

Algerian born Saadoun is the king of Rai in the UK, this music born from an original North African style that combined vocals, flute and derbouka, a traditional Middle Eastern percussion instrument.

The Rai of today is a more elaborate carnival of fast and heavy dance rhythms that are made with both western and Arabian instruments, and typically include the guitar, bass and trumpet.

Saadoun, with his spirited attitude creates a self-styled beat that rings true to the tradition of Rai.His current outfit is made up of seven musicians playing a variety of instruments including brass, electric guitar, drums, Arabian lute and a quanun an Arabian zither. Tickets are £7 from the Croydon Clocktower on 020 8253 1030.

12:16pm Wednesday 22nd January 2003 - News Shopper


Portrait Abdelkader Saadoun

Fish out of Water – A Raï Musician in London

Raï has crossed the channel and gained ground in Great Britain. One of its sprouts is Abdelkader Saadoun, the self-proclaimed "King of Raï in the UK". Tareq Al-Arab met up with a self-confident artist in exile

Abdelkader Saadoun is an up-and-coming world music artist - and not just because he is a regular at the same London restaurant as Madonna | Raï in Algeria was traditionally the music of the social outcasts. It kept its tradition of rendering the living conditions of the deprived from postcolonial Algeria to the unemployed and homeless youth of Algeria in the decades to follow. In the 1980s, Maghribian emigrants took it to France, gave it a modern coating and made it hugely popular.

"There's no place like home…"

People may relocate to a foreign country, but there's always one place they call home in their heart. It is where their ancestors come from, the cradle of their culture. Although they can't or even may not be willing to return to that place, a vital memory of it remains and with it often a lifelong longing.

Thus, some among the Maghribian migrants who came to Europe in the late twentieth century began to build cultural bridges for their compatriots. It so happened in France where musicians like Khaled, Cheb Mami or Rachid Taha took on the traditional Algerian Raï music to play it to their fellow countrymen in the nightclubs of Paris and Marseille.

These artists have by now established a widespread mainstream pop culture of Raï, initially nurtured on the comparatively small immigrant community of their respective country of origin.

Taking into account its colonial past, France – despite being a European country – is a natural breeding ground for sprouts of a Maghribian culture. Great Britain on the other hand is rather an odd choice in this respect. Still the Maghribian culture seems to have sloshed over to the United Kingdom. Its capital London harbours Abdelkader Saadoun, self-proclaimed King of Raï in the UK.

An eclectic mix of Raï, jazz, rock, funk, dance music

Tonight, Abdelkader Saddoun resides at the Cargo club in London's vain and trendy quarter Shoreditch. The club seems to have sold out. Among the audience is a clear majority of expatriates from Maghrib countries. The very moment Abdelkader's band kicks off the set with its eclectic mix of traditional Raï, jazz, rock, funk and dance music, one phenomenon is very striking: there is an instant passionate response by the audience. Immediately, people start to dance, clap their hands and sing along with joy. This is not simply a concert, it's a celebration.

While the audience is emerging in the music, Abdelkader clearly takes the centre of attention on stage, overlooking everyone in terms of both his tall physical appearance and a musical leadership that he exerts via a sort of conducting reminiscent of the "Godfather of Soul", James Brown.

The members of his truly multinational and technically brilliant band take turns in brief solos, each at the signal of Saddoun's hand.

The Fine Arts episode

Saddoun is an experienced performer. Born in the Algerian town of Khemis Miliana, the singer, percussionist and oud player Saadoun was already a well-known Raï musician in his homeland before forming a Raï band in London in 1992.

It was by mistake that he came to live in England, he jokes, explaining that in 1988 he was just doing a bit of travelling, passing by the UK on his way to Canada. Somehow he ended up staying. He was finishing his Arts degree and started doing Fine Arts exhibitions in collaboration with a few other artists when at one point they started playing Raï music just for enjoyment.

People where curious and showed interest in the music, he explains. "They were very impressed because they never heard this music before."

Common music for the underdogs

Can anyone – British, French or even second- or third-generation Algerians – with completely different, much improved living conditions relate to the specific expression of Raï music? After all, Raï initially had a purpose similar to that of the early Blues for the Afro-American community, a common music for underdogs. Abdelkader's recipe is straightforward and plain.

Saadoun only just recently released, "Freedom", his latest album "Raï music is mainly about the young people and how they were suffering because they had a lot of problems. There wasn't a music to express themselves. But when Raï came with singers like Cheb Khaled, they could see themselves through the songs, see the happiness or see the suffering. It is like a comfort to you, if you have a problem with your wife, your girlfriend. I have a message for the whole world, not only Arabs. I play Raï music to communicate with people. You have to make them dance, then you can explain to them the music," says Abdelkader.

Purists argue that the "danceability" of modern Raï music eclipses the traditional Raï expression. Abdelkader disagrees: "In Europe singers like Khaled, myself or others started making dance music to attract the young generation, but I also give people the opportunity to listen to my lyrics and try to understand them, so I try to get my message through to them. At my concerts, I am trying to please everyone."

The eternal flame of individual artistic expression

So there is no sign that Raï music – once caught by the currents of commercial interests – might lose its original traits and purpose to become a copy of its own? "No," says Abdelkader categorically, pointing out the eternal flame of individual artistic expression. While specifying, he casually glides onto one couch with some of the greatest artists of the 20th century:

"You can never become a Bob Marley, Cheb Khaled, Abdelkader Saadoun or Picasso. Everybody's got a style. You can't bring anyone to sing the Raï the way I sing it or somebody else from Algeria. That's why I am unique."

If Abdelkader Saadoun's message is to revel with joy, it is impossible to deny that tonight at the Cargo, he is well understood.

Tareq Al-Arab © 2005


Salle Ibn Zeydoun. Concert d’Abdelkader Saâdoun

Raïman algérien chez les British

Que l’on ne s’y trompe pas : bien que vivant depuis plus de 20 ans sur les berges de la Tamise, Saâdoun Abdelkader, artiste originaire de Khemis Miliana, n’a rien perdu de sa verve. Le raïman a réussi son come-back dans son pays natal dans le cadre d’un concert de charité organisé à l’initiative de l’ambassade du Royaume-Uni et de quelques entreprises présentes en Algérie, à la salle Ibn Zeydoun.

Les fonds colletés lors de ce concert seront remis à l’association des sourds-muets d’Oran et au centre de Bentalha. Les spectateurs apprécieront les sonorités qui leurs sont offertes par cet artiste venu du pays de Son Altesse Royale. De l’andalou mélangé à des sonorités nouvelles de la world music donnera un ton nouveau à ce patrimoine maghrébin, pas toujours apprécié à sa juste valeur. Natif de Khemis Miliana, Saâdoune a fait ses premières classes dans son patelin d’origine. D’ailleurs, il ne se départira jamais des instruments fétiches du raï. Il est arrivé en Angleterre en 1988, et quelque années après, il a créé son deuxième groupe de raï dans la capitale anglaise, assure-t-on. Perfectionniste à l’envi – les spectateurs s’en sont rendu compte à coup sûr –, Saâdoune aura à driver un groupe avec qui il se produisit « dans de nombreuses cérémonies et de nombreux festivals ». Des musiciens ont rejoint le groupe ; chacun d’eux est venu d’une région connue pour ses musiques traditionnelles. La Méditerranée n’est guère loin. Il y a d’ailleurs dans ce groupe un Italien, un Turc. L’Italien a émerveillé les invités par sa manière quelque peu étonnante de jouer de la guitare. L’humeur y était, à coup sûr. Gratter les cordes s’apparente chez lui à faire de la comédie. Les musiciens, qui ont accompagné le raiman de Miliana, sont au nombre de neuf, utilisant chacun des instruments traditionnels comme la mandoline ou d’autres instruments plus actuels tels les cuivres, l’alto, le banjo. « Artiste charismatique, Saâdoune parvient, avec ses rythmes contagieux et son dynamisme sur scène, à faire vibrer n’importe quel public », atteste-t-on. Tel un alchimiste, il a réussi à intégrer aux sonorités du terroir des éléments venus d’ailleurs comme le pop, le jazz, la funk, le rock et le blues. « Sa musique est très dynamique et elle incite à la danse », assurent ses fans. Connu pour être l’une des destinations phares des musiciens du monde entier, la Grande-Bretagne lui a ouvert les bras : « Depuis ma tendre enfance, on ne cessait de me parler à l’école de la ligne de Greenwich. Le destin a voulu que j’habite dans cette ville. Le hasard nous surprend toujours… », affirme-t-il. Le parcours de l’artiste sur les scènes anglaises n’est guère mince. Abdelkader s’est produit dans plusieurs festivals du Royaume-Uni, entre autres sur la scène principale du Womad, au Queen Elizabeth Hall, au Royal Festival Hall, à Trafalgar Square, au Festival en plein air du Théatre national, au Festival de la musique méditerranéenne au Barbican. Il a également participé à de nombreuses autres manifestations en plein air, ainsi que dans des théâtres, des clubs, des musées et des centres culturels. Il était également présent au Festival des musiques du monde à Thassos en Grèce et aux remises de prix des Musiques pour la paix dans le monde, à Bali. Des albums ont été produits, le dernier porte le titre de Inchalah & Freedom. Les musiques de cet album ont été choisies pour le film American Bellydancer de Miles Copland. D’autres compositions sont à son actif. Le groupe Harmonica, disparu pour un moment, est retourné sur scène, à la faveur de ce concert évènement.

Nadir Iddir

Edition du 9 juin 2007 > Culture