By Eddahmani Abdeselam
Rabat – Saida Fikri is a Moroccan author, composer, guitarist, and performer widely known in the Maghreb and Europe for her songs that deal with social issues.
Fikri’s songs combine the influences of contemporary world music: rock, blues, jazz, folk, pop, country, and reggae. But in the mixture of these various currents, one invariably discovers notes of the Middle East and North Africa, including traces of Gnawa, Rai, and Chaabi, as well as traditional Berber, Andalusian, and Arab-classical songs. Fikri writes her lyrics in Darija (Moroccan Arabic dialect), French, classical Arabic, and also English.
Morocco World News caught up with Fikri to talk about her latest hit “Mansoura,” her committed style, and her legendary career.
Your latest song, “Mansoura,” is inspired by your childhood. What can you tell us about this subject?
Saida Fikri: Contrary to what was promoted by some media platforms that did not bother to read my statement – the idea that I was a housemaid in America – the song “Mansoura” is inspired from a personal experience I lived in my childhood.
As everyone knows, Saida Fikri was not born with a golden spoon in her mouth, but from a poor family. Due to our harsh [living] conditions, I started working as a housemaid at the age of eight on holidays, especially summer vacation, to help myself and my family.
Almost all your songs discuss social issues, which has led you to be called the “people’s artist.” Was this commitment a choice or a duty?
Saida Fikri: My music been called “committed” and I have been called the “people’s artist.” But in fact all that it is, is that my music resemble me. It was not a choice, but was imposed due to the circumstances that I experienced in my life. After all, my music translates my feelings.
Thanks to God, my music has given me freedom and pleasure at an early age. I was just 16 years old when I started, and my career music has always been my personal psychological therapist. It gave me balance and psychological stability.
How do you see today’s art and artists?
Saida Fikri: Today’s art reflects today’s Morocco, with its volatility and all that happens in our society.
Art is the mirror of societies. Unfortunately, our young people are lost in a storm of questions with no answers, because they lack values, which are about to disappear.
I remember my beginnings in the 1990s. It was difficult to express our opinion under the circumstances we were living in. But things were clear. Today, everything is mixed up and our youth are living the same.
After years abroad, I thought that when I came back things would be different, but unfortunately not. Enough is enough. There is no art in Morocco; our cultural field is shaky because it has no foundations. At a time when world-wide artists search for simplicity, our youth live in a fake fame: videos clips with rented cars and too many lies that have nothing to do with their reality.
They are selling illusion to people while Morocco still suffers from hunger and ignorance.
I wish to see a credible art that can help change this country, because honest journalists and artists are the last hope of this country.
You’ve spent almost 25 years as a committed artist. Was it worth the sacrifice?
Saida Fikri: Honestly, I do not consider it a sacrifice. On the contrary, my music helped me to find spiritual peace and balance in my life.
God blessed me with this spiritual communication between me and my fans. I can not talk about a sacrifice in front of all the love, appreciation. and respect that fans give me.
Nothing can compensate this feeling, which gives me a positive energy and encourages me to continue, and I will continue because my biggest wish is to spread my messages to as many people as much as I can and influence them positively.
You been part of DBF Productions. What can you tell us about your work with Don Big?
Saida Fikri: My partnership with DBF Productions ended a long time ago.
Despite what has been publicized about this partnership, we worked in good conditions and we parted in better conditions. As everybody knows, Don Big has a high sense of professionalism. I enjoyed working with him, but we have different visions, and despite the dissolution of our partnership we still have a strong friendship.
What are your future projects?
Saida Fikri: Frankly, everything I am working on will be abroad because I no longer understand what is happening in Morocco. We were preparing for a dozens of concerts this summer, but I was surprised that they were canceled at the last moment after we agreed on everything. And what made it worse is the foolish excuses that were presented to me. I do not know whether it is intentional exclusion or that something else is happening.