Algeria's pioneering singer of diwan music Hasna El Becharia dies age 74

AFP , Thursday 2 May 2024

Nicknamed “the rocker of the desert”, the Algerian artist Hasna El Becharia, considered a pioneer of diwan music, died at the age of 74, Algerian national television announced on Wednesday 1 May

Hasna El Becharia
Hasna El Becharia (Photo: AFP)


Real name Hasnia Hasni, this Sahrawi icon known particularly in France and Canada, gave a remarkable concert in February in Paris at the start of a European tour.

Born in Béchar, in the south of Algeria, in 1950, the town from which she took her artistic name, she was famous for having been the first woman to play the guembri, a type of North African guitar with three ropes, formerly forbidden to women.

“A musical and moral revolution”

Hasna El Becharia had resided for eight years in Paris and had published her most famous album Algeria is a jewel there, in 2009. She was the subject of a documentary in 2019 entitled La Rockeuse du Desert, by the Canadian director -Algerian Sara Nacer, for whom the musician had brought about both “a musical and moral revolution”.

Hasna El Becharia was introduced to music from a very young age, her father already leading a Gnaoua group and her grandfather having been a musician. Diwane or Gnaoua music is inspired by secular and sacred traditions inherited from former sub-Saharan slaves in North Africa.

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