A muse of the Jasmine Revolution, Emel Mathlouthi fights on every front: at demonstrations but also with trip-hop-accented rock, tinged with traditional strings and percussions.
Emel Mathlouthi, born in Tunis in 1982, has in recent years become one of the most often heard voices on the Arab stage, a deep voice, a diva’s voice, with unbridled energy and a sense of freedom.
Nothing could foretell how things would turn out. True, she went up on stage for the first time at age 8 in a theatre in the Tunis suburbs. True, from early childhood, she was surrounded by her father’s vinyl discs, becoming familiar with classical music and with Arab and Latin American protest music. But she would have to wait until age 15 to devote herself to singing. And, as destiny is inescapable, at the insistence of her university friends she created a rock group. This was when she started on guitar.
With his early and extended learning, her influences included Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, as well as the Egyptian Chikh Imam and the Lebanese Marcel Khalifa. When listening to her, it becomes obvious that her voice borrows from Joan Baez but also from fado singer Amalia Rodriguez. Her musicians alternate oriental sounds and rock, sometimes tinged with trip hop and gypsy music.
She soon made a name for herself on the Tunisian stage. Her intensity is such that she forcefully conveys the emotion and depth of her lyrics. And she is the one who writes her lyrics, in both Tunisian and literary Arabic. She also composes her melodies. In 2006, she was a finalist for the RMC Moyen-Orient award. The following year, she settled in France. Her lyrics then became more nostalgic as she sang of the pain of exile, nostalgia for her homeland, hope and disillusionment.
During these years, she engaged in numerous collaborations, with CharlElie Couture, Jean-Jacques Milteau, Tricky and the group Meï Teï Shô. She became one of the most emblematic figures in current Arab music. The Tunisian revolution in early 2010 put her in the forefront of free artists filled with hope, determined to benefit from this new path. In 2012, she brought out her first album, Kelmti Horra, meaning “My word is free.” At least things are clear!
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Concerts of the artist:
Festival International Nuits d'Afrique -Compilation 2012