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Hasna el Becharia

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Hasna el Becharia is a female Gnawa musician from Algeria. Her home town, Bechar, is in the desert area of southern Algeria.
Hasna started off as an Arab-Berber style wedding musician. She started to play this type of music by herself in 1972 along with 3 friends, two of whom, Zorah and Kheira, are still with her until this day. At first, Hasna played acoustic guitar using the desert’s traditional tunes. Eventually she had to resort to the electric guitar instead, so that she could be heard above the noise her vast audience was making while singing along with her! Hasna and her friends became well known in southern Algeria.

A major event took place 4 years later in 1976 - a concert in Bechar organized by the Union of Algerian Women, with the legendary Hasna and her band being guest stars. Like numerous Algerian gnawa musicians, Hasna takes her roots in the popular wedding repertoire. She also plays oud, derbouka, bendir and even banjo (but never gumbri, an instrument she used to play discreetly behind closed doors in her home).
In January 1999, Hasna arrived in Paris, invited to the « Women of Algeria » festival at the Cabaret Sauvage, just as Souad Massi was. Fascinated by her music, the festival organisers decided to put her on stage every night, although it had planned that she play one evening only. Journalists and producers came to see this incredible woman guitar player from the desert and the French newspaper «Libération » published an article about her. She decided to saty in Paris because the circumstances in Algeria were difficult for her to live under. In August that year Hasna joined the French electronic musician Fred Galliano in a concert at the “Festival de Jazz à Vienne”.

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