By Jamal Laoudi
By Jamal Laoudi
Washington, D.C. – After over a decade of absence, Moroccan Chaabi star Said Senhaji, aka Sultan Tarab Chaabi, was on a 3-day tour in the United States. I caught up with him during his DC performance, an event hosted by Jay Tabri, founder and CEO of Prestige Entertainment, a DC-based entertainment company. I asked Senhaji about his future as an artist, Donald Trump, among other topics.
Welcome to DC Senhaji and thank you for meeting with us. Tell me about the cities where you will performing:
Said Senhaji: First off, thank you for having me and it is my pleasure to be here. I am performing tonight in DC, tomorrow in Orlando and Sunday Valentine’s Day in New York. I will be resting on Monday and heading back to Morocco Tuesday.
As you are probably well aware, the presidential elections are well underway in the US. You have heard of Donald Trump, A republican nominee, who said that he would ban all Muslims from the U.S. should he become a president. We know artists are usually defenders of justice, peace, equality, tolerance and so forth. What message have you for Donald Trump as an artist?
Said Senhaji: I am not really political but I should say that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. This kind of rhetoric is not serious, it is just politics. Assume he really wanted to do that, I think the almighty would not help him to win. Even if that happens, it would not last more than one term. Muslims have always been part of the makeup of the American culture, and always will.
While traveling is a great opportunity to meet fans and see the world, many artists complain about how tiring it can be. Do you share this sentiment?
Said Senhaji: It is true that it is lots of fun to travel and perform in various venues, and it is also true that fatigue can be a disadvantage. When you travel every weekend, it can be very tough sometimes. Personally, I put up with that because when I meet my fans, their response make it all worth it.
Said Senhaji is going retire in 10 years, is that true?
Said Senhaji: I wish I could do it sooner actually. My career spans 34 years plus, about 20 of which as a famous and a well-established artist. Fame is very nice but has a cost as well. I hope to go on for another 6 years, fulfill my Haj duties, then call it quits.
When you are at home or on down time, what kind of music do you listen to?
Said Senhaji: Nothing at all. I listen to no music whatsoever. I am into action movies, watching soccer games, Moroccan and international, and assisting my wife with the kids. This is what I do Monday through Friday and the weekends, I am usually on the road working. While at home, I rarely go out, I am happy spending time with my family. Getting back to music, when you write and compose music for as long as I have, you would lose interest in listening to it altogether. At least, that is the case for me. I have listen to so much music and of all sorts that I am happy not listening to anything anymore.
Senhaji is a huge fan of Moroccan soccer team RAJA Casablanca, Wydad Casablanca’s biggest rival, can you confirm that?
Said Senhaji: When I die, I am gona ask my family to paint my grave red, the color of Wydad. When it comes to Wydad, I am beyond a fanatic or a supporter. Wydad is part of my life and my being. I know you knew that already, so nice try.
What are your future projects and how is the song “Ajbak Lil” coming along?
Said Senhaji: I am very surprised that you know about “Ajbak Lil” as I am keeping it a secret. Initially I was going to release it but I decided to hold on to it until the summer. As luck would have it, I am releasing this new song tomorrow instead. It is called “Ntiya Virus.” I am using the nouveau style if you will, the one adopted by Hatim Amour, Saad Lmjarrad and so forth. It is the style with songs that the entire Arab world understands. This is not to say I am abandoning my Chaabi style no, but I am merely keeping up with the new trends. Every summer, I have an album that includes traditional Chaabi songs, and this year will be no different.
Than you Senhaji, last words:
Said Senhaji: Thank you for having me and I want to take a moment to thank all of the Moroccan diaspora, and I promise them unforgettable shows. My plan is not to get off the stage until they are all fully satisfied. I want also to thank Wahib, my manager in the states. He is the reason I am able to perform here and that’s partly why I only work with him. Thanks again.