Souad Massi: Carrying The Sound Of Algeria On Her Back

Jul 15, 2012
Originally published on July 15, 2012 9:11 am

Algerian singer and guitarist Souad Massi paid a visit to the U.S. recently, touring to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Algeria's independence. While in D.C., she stopped by NPR's headquarters to play a Tiny Desk Concert.

After the show, she came downstairs to chat with Weekend Edition Sunday, carrying a guitar on her back. Massi says she's never without one and doesn't really care if it's an acoustic or electric.

"I play the folk and classical because I can't, when I am alone, play like in my album," Massi tells host David Greene. "When I am with my band, it's rock and more strong."

That's a privilege for an Algerian musician. The civil war pitted fundamentalist rebel groups against the military government there; musicians, journalists, even women who didn't cover their heads were targeted for assassination. Massi says she's glad to be playing at all.

"We played rock music, so really we were making noise, and it was very dangerous for us to play in the night," Massi says. "It was a very hard part of my life and for the life of a lot of musicians and women."

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