Death of Idir: the voiceless Kabyle people

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The hecatombe, it is the word which returns from now on in the flow of the networks so much the dead follow one another on the side of music. The latest, that of Idir, 70, announced by the family on the official Facebook page: “We regret to announce the death of our father [à tous], Idir, Saturday at 9:30 p.m. Rest in peace, Dad. “ A discreet message, like the character who will remain in the collective memory as one of the main voices (with Lounis Aït Menguellet) of the Kabyle people, in which the Maghreb community on both sides of the Mediterranean was more widely recognized. This is confirmed by the testimonies, gathering far beyond questions of age and gender. These messages from anonymous people, or from people in the “trade” as they say, say much more about the grief than that of the Algerian president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who greets “An icon of Algerian art”. “With its disappearance, Algeria loses one of its monuments.” And how.

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“There are mornings like this when you wake up sad, tears in your eyes. Lulled by music forever, like At Vava Inouva, that I love so much. Allah y rahmou… ” writes on Twitter Rania, shadow figure of Radio Nova. “My idol … It breaks my heart”, simply pursues the turbulent raïman Sofiane Saidi. “You have carried by your fragile and soft voice and by your timeless melodies the Amazigh song on an international scale. You will have marked your constancy and your modesty on the North African scene and patiently inscribed in its heritage the art of the guitar singer forever “, writes the Moroccan Mounir Kabbaj, very active in carrying the sounds of the new generation, not born when Idir triumphed with At Vava Inouva.

“Magic atmosphere of vigils”

It was in the middle of the 70s, and the young poet who had just moved to Paris, immediately signed a worldwide success. The lullaby, repeated in multiple versions, imposes itself on the waves of a Hexagon still reluctant to listen to voices from elsewhere. This simple folk song in the big racket of the world was inspired by a tale from the hilltop villages of Kabylia, the very ones where this shepherd son born in 1949 under the name of Hamid Cheriet grew up. “I was lucky to have a poetic grandmother and mother, he said to Release in 2013. We came from far away to listen to them. I was immersed in the magical atmosphere of evenings where stories and puzzles were told. In an oral culture society, the value of the word is immense. ” He knew how to give letters of nobility to this tradition, to transcribe in words and music the soul of an entire people.

A destiny accomplished without having been driven by any career plan, but rather by the law of karma: still a student of geology, he recorded the soon famous sweet song at Radio Alger, replacing the singer for whom he had written it . And while he is doing his military service, the 45-rpm engraved in this way begins to swarm, so much so that Pathé-Marconi stands up and does everything to get him to Paris. A year later, his first LP was released. It’s the beginning of a legend that will never be contradicted, despite a discography that is however thin.

The right word

This spokesman for the Kabyle people will indeed be discreet, choosing sparingly his interventions: less than ten records, in almost fifty years of career, that is to say if Idir always chooses the right word, if he sculpts the least melody. Each time, this cantor of otherness questions consciences and shares his convictions. An intimate and poetic quest by an artist who embodies better than anyone the mediation between tradition and current affairs, the whole world and the hyperlocal. A man of conviction, Idir knew how to take his time, and therefore to step back, in the face of current events, to evoke it all the better between the lines of his songs.

Identities, Two shores, a dream, France of colors, or even recently Here and elsewhere, disc populated by duets (Lavilliers, Aznavour, Grand Corps ill …), the titles of his albums bear witness to the questions that have constantly inhabited the thought of Idir, rooted in his native Kabylia and connected to the whole world. Always concerned about the future of his country, where he will return in the early days of 2018 to sing for the Berber New Year, after thirty-eight years of absence. As in this interview at El Watan in May 2017 when this fervent supporter of the Arab Spring declared about Algeria, premonitively: “The urgency is to restore the rule of law. Very quickly. The urgency is to redo the foundations of the state. And in addition to get rid of this damn ideology which leads us towards regression. A young country that asks only to live with an incredible talent. All languages ​​combined. We feel it is moving. These young people are saying “bye bye” to the leaders who remain phlegmatic, behind. ”

Jacques Denis

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