Friday, June 09, 2006

Cheikha Rimitti, R.I.P.

Ted Swedenburg writes:

Cheikha Rimitti died of a heart attack in Paris at the age of 83 on May 15. She was a performer right to the end; she had just performed in Paris two days before she died. Rimitti was one of the great cheikhas of modern rai, releasing her first recording in 1952, but it was her 1954 release, "Charrak, Gattaa," that made her renowned, and infamous, throughout Algeria. The song was considered by some to be an attack on the preservation of female virginity. After independence, her music was banned by the NLF from the airwaves, because of its vulgarity.

Rimitti had a reputation for bawdiness, and her name reportedly came from her habit of demanding more drinks: "Remettez!"--"Give me another." Cheikha Give Me Another Drink. Her reputation for excess should not be exxagerated, as it is all too often in publicity about rai. After an accident in 1971, Rimitti gave up drinking and smoking, and went on hajj in 1976. I even have a cassette, purchased in Paris' Barb├Ęs district, which she recorded under the name Hajja Rimitti.

You can read the rest of his obit here

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