Biography of El Hachemi Guerouabi

El-Hadj El Hachmi Guerouabi was an Algerian singer and composer of Cha‚bi and one of the Grand Masters of the Algiers-based Cha‚bi music. He was born in El Mouradia and grew up in Bťlouizdad (formerly Belcourt). Two passions occupied Guerouabi's childhood: Football and music. Being a good footballer he played with La Redoute AC football club until 1952. By then he had developed a special interest to music; in particular the music of El Hadj M'Hamed El Anka, M'rizek and Hssissen. His win in the El Arbi Music-Hall contest helped him join the Opera of Algiers in 1953, where he was engaged in music but also played several theatrical roles including the famous Haroun Errachid. After the independence of Algeria from France in 1962, Guerouabi saw the invasion of foreign music, especially from Europe and Egypt, as a threat to the traditional Algerian music. He tries to attract a younger audience by introducing fundamental changes in his compositions that will later make him a distinctive and Master of Cha‚bi. Guerouabi continued his innovations and became an icon of the Algerian popular music. He was invited to perform in various occasions by prestigious institutions and notable individuals, which added to his popularity and respect among Cha‚bi fans. In 1987, Guerouabi went on a pilgrimage in Mecca and gained the title of “El-Hadj”. He moved to Paris in the late 1990s for medical treatment for severe diabetes, where he settled until his death in 2006. Despite his illness, Guerouabi continued to produce music, play in concerts around the world and play at weddings, but in February 2005 he had undergone a surgery that resulted in the amputation of his leg and his decision to quit music. However, due to a growing demand from his homeland, he gave his last concert in Algiers on July 4th, 2005 in front of a very large audience. He was admitted to hospital again in July 2006, one year exactly after his last public appearance, after a heart attack which cost him his life. El Hachmi Guerouabi died on July 17th, 2006 in Zeralda near Algiers and left behind him a large repertoire of music, a musical renaissance but most importantly a remarkable contribution to the vulgarisation of Cha‚bi.

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