Rai, the popular music of Algeria, developed in the harbor city of Oran. In the late 1970’s, the more modern Pop-Rai movement followed and produced Cheba Fadela and her husband, Cheb Sahraoui, both of whom gained fame as Pop-Rai singers in Algeria.
Born in 1962 as Fadela Zalmat, Cheba Fadela grew up in a poor, formerly Jewish neighborhood, not far from the large city theater. At the age of fourteen, she played a role in the film "Djalti,” directed by Mohamed Ifticène and made her musical debut as a background singer in Boutiba S’ghir’s band. Her voice can also be heard on recordings by Rai singer Cheikha Djenia. Fadela’s nick name, "Remitti Sghira” (Little Remitti) followed as a result of the resemblance her potential career bore to that of famed Rai singer, Cheikha Remetti.
In the late seventies, Cheba Fadela was discovered by the legendary Rai producer, Rachid Baba Ahmed. Ahmed’s modern 24 track studio in Tlemcen was the power house that produced Algerian Pop-Rai. With his help, Fadela became one of the first stars of the new musical sound that appealed to a frustrated generation of Algerians. Thanks to the inexpensive cassette tape, Pop-Rai quickly achieved wide distribution. In contrast to the traditional Rai of the "Cheikhs” and "Cheikhas,” which was popular at the turn of the century in the bars and brothels of Oran, the new generation of Rai singers gave themselves the surname of "Cheb” or "Cheba,” meaning "the young.”
With the 1979 song "Ana Ma H’Lali Ennoun” (I don’t want to sleep), Fadela landed her first big hit. The recognition that she gained from that success catapulted her to even larger fame in 1983 with "N’Sel Fik” (You are mine), a song she recorded together with Mohammed Sahraoui. Their marriage immediately followed and the couple quickly became the dream pair of the Algerian music scene, always taking the stage together.
Like many other Algerian Rai singers, they emigrated to France in the late 1980’s to pursue a European career. When the first "world music wave” began there, Cheba Fadela and Cheb Sahraoui were at the center of attention. Their residence in Europe spared them the first-hand experience of the bloody civil war that rocked Algeria in the nineties. An attack by radical Muslims took the life of Rai singer Cheb Hasni in September of 1994. Famed Pop-Rai producer, Rachid Baba Ahmed, was murdered by fanatics during the same time period.
Unlike other stars of the Pop-Rai generation like Cheb Khaled, Cheba Fadela and Chab Sahraoui never achieved international success, largely because they relied too heavily on their success in Algeria. The couple separated both privately and professionally in the 1990’s.
In 2001, Cheb Sahraoui reappeared with "Un homme libre,” an album that reflects the sound of modern French commercial music. Nothing noteworthy has been reported of Cheba Fadela in recent years.
Cheba Fadela was born in 1962 in Oran, the birthplace of Rai music. As a singer, she debuted as a background artist, performed onstage and sang on the recordings of famous vocalists of the seventies. Through these early appearances, she attracted the attention of producer Rachid Baba Ahmed, a pioneer of Pop-Rai music. In his studio, she recorded the first hit that gained her fame in Algeria, "Ana Ma H’Lali Ennoun” (I don’t want to sleep).
In 1983, Cheba Fadela recorded the duet "N’Sel Fik” (You are mine) with Rai singer Mohammed Sahraoui. Following their marriage during the same year, the pair quickly became the dream couple of Algerian music and emigrated to France in the late nineteen-eighties. There, like many of their native colleagues, they hoped to continue their careers on an international level. While their popularity continued with the Algerian community in France, they never reached the same level of success as fellow Rai star Khaled. In the late 1990’s, the couple separated and began the pursuit of independent careers.