#AuxSons est un webmedia collaboratif, militant et solidaire
17 November 2022
By Nawel Ben Kraïem
Playlist by Nawel Ben Kraïem

Edit October 2023: Meet Nawel Ben Kraïem at Womex 2023 where she will be presenting “Les Héritières - Concert hommage à Cheikha Rimitti” with Souad Asla, Samira Brahmia and Cheikha Hadjla. On 26 and 27 October at the Pelicano stage.

Nawel Ben Kraïem is a complete artist: singer, actress and poet. On her fifth album, Je chante un secret, due out on 25 November, she uses her exceptionally strong, deep voice, modulated in the manner of raï chekhates or imbued with pop tension, to convey her outspokenness. Musically, the album is a hybrid, with a sprinkling of electronica, anger, atmospheres fed by the energy of raï or melancholy organs.

On 19 November at the Point Fort in Aubervilliers, Nawel Ben Kraïem will be lending her voice to the “Borderless II” festival, a platform celebrating migrants from different backgrounds as they showcase their creativity, innovation and potential.

In the meantime, Nawel Ben Kraïem shares with #AuxSons: “a photograph of sounds that are with me at the moment: they are often artists who create from a place between two worlds (cultural, social or gender) and who touch me for their quest and sincerity.”

1. Kae Tempest (Kate Tempest) - Europe Is Lost

I’m touched by her anger, her writing, her commitment, and the world of spoken word to which it opens me up, which was also a strong source of inspiration for my new album ‘Je chante un secret’.”

2. Dhafer Youssef - Ondes Of Chakra

A Tunisian compatriot of immense talent. It’s soaring, mystical and profound”.

3. Omah Lay - Lo Lo

A Nigerian sound, both sunny and tender, that I first discovered in the ‘Rami’ series (also worth checking out!)”.

4. Rachid Taha - Écoute-moi Camarade

For me, Rachid Taha is an icon that I love to hear in both French and Arabic… This song sounds like a comforting pat on the back in a café!”

5. Lasa de Selha - La Confession

I feel a quest for truth in her songs, and in this one in particular. Lhasa is an artist I was able to identify with at the start of my career because of her deep voice and her dual culture, between South America and North America.”

6. Rosalia - Malamente

I love her fragile yet powerful voice. I listen mainly to her early albums, which have something more organic about them, but I love following her journey and her musical appetite for something between flamenco tradition and futurism.”

7. Mustafa - Stay Alive

A recent discovery. I was touched by the emotion in his voice and the refined, modern and groovy musical setting. It exudes a kind of purity.”

8. Amarna - Ya Rayi

This band are pioneers in the way they take electric guitars to the rai. The song ‘Zina’ is very well known, but this is my favourite rai song! What charisma!”

9. Zamdane - Incomplet Comme Février 

I love the way this young rapper handles words, the mix of Arabic and French rap, the sensitivity and spirituality that emanates from some of his tracks.”

10. Anohni and the Johnsons (Anthony and the Johnsons) - Knocking on Heaven’s Door

I close with one of my classics when I’m in a melancholy mood. A voice that can bring tears to my eyes and make me feel as if I’m accessing his soul (and mine!), with lyrics by one of my favourite poets: Bob Dylan.”

Nawel Ben Kraïem

Nawel Ben Kraïem rejects any idea of fragmentation with faith and vigour. In 2021, she published her first collection of poems, J’abrite un secret, published by Bruno Doucey. Her new album of songs echoes this work, the idea for which emerged after its theatrical presentation at the Maison de la poésie, directed by Marcel Bozonnet. Je chante un secret is the fifth album by the Franco-Tunisian artist, who grew up in Tunis until she was 16 and now lives in Saint Denis.

The opus contains singing, speaking-singing, outspokenness and performance, in the style of Patti Smith or Kae Tempest, opening the floodgates of anger and energy to the point of frightening herself. Nawel, in song and word, provides the weapons to reclaim her inner self. She carries within her multiple identities, diverse lifestyles, lost generations and seeds of the future.

Je chante un secret is logically musically hybrid, drenched in electronica, anger and atmospheres nourished by the energy of raï or melancholy organs. Co-produced with his sidekick Nassim Kouti, guitarist and arranger, and London-based Tim Whelan of electro-world fusion band Transglobal underground, the album was mixed by Mitch Olivier (aka Bashung, M…). It’s an obvious choice for an artist who has opened for the likes of Susheela Raman and Natacha Atlas, with vibrant lyrics and an electric soundtrack.

Nawel tells us with her exceptionally strong, deep voice, modulated like the chekhates of raï or imbued with pop tension, that we must not try to break the protective dikes of our feelings and our dreams.

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