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Cheb Nasro

The only rai artist signed with an American label, Miles Copeland's ARK21/Mondo Melodia, Cheb Nasro may be rai's most prolific performer. With more than 130 albums to his credit, Nasro has recorded such hits including "Ndirek Amour" (I Choose You, My Love), "Ma Rkhalinich" (Don't Leave Me), and "Enfin, Enfin" (Finally, Finally). Raised in the western Algerian town of Oran, Nasro grew up in post-revolutionary Algeria, free from the oppression of French colonialism. His first foray into music came, at the age of two, when his uncle bought him a drabouka (traditional drum). As a youngster, he often accompanied Cheb Zahounie at wedding receptions. Making his solo debut, at the age of 17, at a local club, Nasro received a standing ovation and was invited to perform daily, from 3 a.m. until 4 a.m., at the club. Within a year, he had recorded his debut album and had begun performing throughout Europe. Despite their competition, Nasro and Cheb Hasni became close friends. The hope of Nasro's early career began to fade after the tragic murder of Cheb Hasni on September 29, 1994. While many rai artists emigrated to Europe or North America, he was one of the few to continue singing in his homeland. He later recalled, "I became very skinny from worry and moved around a lot."
© Craig Harris /TiVo


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