By Jamal Laoudi
By Jamal Laoudi
Washington DC – Rai star Kader Japoni was born Abdel Kader Haibraoui in Bab El Ouad, Algiers, on March 11th 1979. Though he realized his vocal talent at a very young age, he did not perform publicly until he was well into his teens. He went from singing to himself by locking his dorm-door during his tenure at University in the city of Bel Abass to performing for thousands and at the Zenith in France.
He is already a well-recognized name in the Maghreb region and among Maghrebi communities in Europe and elsewhere. Aside from his many hits and albums, his achievements include the 2010 best North African song at an African Music Awards, and Artist of the Year at the 2013 Algerian Music Awards.
Here is Kader with more:
How did you get involved in singing and what music genres did you grow up listening to?:
Kader Japoni: I discovered I enjoyed singing at a very young age. I recall gathering with my friends, siblings, or other family members and singing whatever was popular at the time. With that being said, I would not do so in the presence of my parents.
I listened to various styles of music and artists, but I favored Hasni and Nasro for Rai. As far as other styles, I enjoyed George Wassouf, Lionel Ritchie, and Charles Aznavour, among others.
What was your early work like? Describe the process of your artistic growth.
Kader Japoni: Like many of my predecessors and as is the path for Algerian Raimen, I started out performing at weddings, cabarets, private parties, and the like. Initially, I did not have my own material so I covered what was popular.
In 2001, when I was 17, I released my very first album with all original tracks. As a matter of fact, all my albums are original. I try to release one album a year – Oscar, an album I released not long ago, is doing very well. My latest is entitled “Today” and was recently released.
Slowly, I started building a name for myself. I released albums from 2001 to 2006 but with very little success. I was still trying to find my niche. I released one album every two years. 2006 proved to be the defining year for me, with the release of the album “Ana Wana.” Doors began to open. I released albums in 2008 and 2009 and continued on that path. I did the Zenith in Paris in 2009.
Rai, as a music genre, has had its up and downs. It seems now to be moving in an upward motion. To what do you attribute the previous decline?
Kader Japoni: True, there was a period of decline, if you will, but Rai bounced back. Algeria suffered a civil war, and when that happens, the arts are one of the first to take a hit. You are not going to record albums nor entertain audiences in concert halls during a civil war. I am glad to see that it is all over, and that the arts are back. I hope that we will only improve over time.
If presented with all the artists that ever existed, and asked who would you want to do a duet with, whom would you choose and why?
Kader Japoni: This is actually easy to answer. I would choose the late (Cheb) Hasni. There is something unique about his ability to stir and evoke emotions from within that you may not have previously known were there. There is something about the combination of his lyrics; derived from real life events, his carefully chosen melodies, and his smooth, pure voice that made him stand out from the rest. He had the uncanny ability to make his audience part of the story in his songs. These characteristics are the reason behind my choosing him.
What brought you to the United States?
Kader Japoni: I am here for concert performances starting here in Washington DC. It is a great opportunity for me to connect with my fans on this side of the Atlantic. I am also on a musical exploration mission. To stay current and evolve, one must explore, experiment, and continue to learn and grow artistically and otherwise. My goal is to also connect with established US-based artists in hope to collaborate on projects.
Kader Japoni: Thank you, Jamal, for this opportunity. I hope everyone enjoys my performance and I look forward to visiting more often.
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