Hajja El Hamdaouia, diva of modern Aïta

The exhibition-playlist n°1 Hajja El Hamdaouia, diva of modern Aïta, can be listened to continously on Youtube since August 31.

Born in 1930 in a popular district of Casablanca, Hajja El Hamdaouia discovered music through her music-loving father. Her career began at the beginning of the 1950s, first in the theatre, and then quickly in music. After a political song in which she made fun of Ben Arafa ('Waili a chibani'), considered as an illegitimate substitute for Mohamed V, she went into exile in France where she was the first female artist to sing 'châabi' in Europe. She performed in various Parisian cabarets and rubbed shoulders with the North African artists of the time (Mohamed Fouiteh, Maurice Mimun, Samy Elmeghribi...).
She returned to Morocco after King Mohamed V's return to power in 1955 and performed at the prestigious Casablanca music hall, 'Le Coq d'or', alongside Salim Hilali.
The 80s and 90s were years of oblivion for her, but she made her big comeback in the 2000s, particularly in performances in France and Canada.

"I'm always moved when I see children or young people singing my songs, I tell myself that I've achieved something in my life, I think."

Hajja El Hamdaouia
Hajja El Hamdaouia vinyl sleeve

Hajja is particularly famous for having modernised the Aita Marsawiya, a political musical style (Aïta means 'call'), originating from the Greater Casablanca region and sung in Moroccan dialect. Hajja El Hamdaouia was the first to mix the popular music of the châabi with the Aïta and to incorporate modern instruments, thus participating in the 'urbanisation' of rural singing in the Atlantic region.
Her many encounters with the world of North African music, notably in Paris during her exile, also led her to excel in Mawal gharnati, Algerian and Tunisian songs, Judeo-Arabic and even Spanish flamenco. She can also be seen singing in the film 'Retrouver Oulad Moumen' by Izza Genini, where she performs 'Ma yiddishe mama'.
She accompanied her unique voice with the bendir and the taarija: she created her first orchestra in 1959 to perform this. Her songs, which cover many subjects - courteous and daring love, betrayal, family, domestic violence, resistance, love of her country - are all full of nostalgia and humour for the Moroccans who hum them.

Hajja El Hamdaouia vinyl sleeve

The career path of this artist, with her songs and clever, mischievous allusions, make Hajja El Hamdaouia 'the iconic figure who enabled women to find the words' for Rabah Mezzouane, music programmer at the Arab World Institute and music journalist.
n the 1950s, when people began to notice her, and she began to act in the theatre with Bachir Laalej's company, she was one of the first women in Moroccan theatre, for at that time even the roles of women were played by men. She defied her father, who initially refused to let her act, and almost disowned her. Hajja also played football and committed herself to her country against France.
Her life as a committed woman can be found in her songs, where she openly expresses her femininity, talks about sex and love, domestic violence, the resistance and her country.
This exceptional artist is to be discovered and rediscovered in the first playlist of the Musée de la Musique on Youtube - enjoy discovering or re-discovering this artist!

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