Khailou Esseghir et Sion – Gheita – Columbia, c. 1930 - Among those who would record mizwid for Columbia in the company’s earliest years of operation was its greatest exponent: the Tunisian Jewish artist by the name of Khailou Esseghir.
Louisa – Ya Manna – Parlophone, c. 1930 - In 1931, Gramophone described Louisa al-Israïliyya (Louisa the Jewess) as “the most famous ‘méââlma’ in Algeria.”
Joamar Elmaghribi – Istikhbar Sahli & Rani Nestana Fik – Philips, c. 1954-1956 - Before the world knew him as Jo Amar, Moroccans had known him as Joamar Elmaghribi.
Zohra El Fassia – Mayli Sadr Hnine – Pathé, c. 1956 - Among the many North African musical forms recorded by Zohra El Fassia, her interpretations of Algerian hawzi (or haouzi) stand out. Her “Mayli Sadr Hnine,” recorded c. 1956 for Pathé and complete with accordion accompaniment, is no exception.
Sassi – Tchambar Sika – Parlophone, c. 1930 - Sassi, born in Constantine but raised in Algiers, was not only the most accomplished mandolin player of his generation––almost always described as a virtuoso––but among the most prolific recording artists of his era.
Habiba Messika – Souria Anti Biladi & Ya man yahounnou – Baidaphon, c. 1928 - In April 1928, approximately a year after the conclusion of the Great Syrian Revolt––ninety years ago this month––Tunisian Jewish superstar Habiba Messika walked into the Berlin studio of the Baidaphon label and recorded, “Syria, you are my country” (“Souria Anti Biladi”).
Louisa Tounsia – Heukm Ennessouane – Pathé, c. 1930-1931 - During Louisa Tounsia’s rise to stardom in the mid-to-late 1920s, the Tunis-born Jewish artist played an instrumental role in carving out a modern Tunisian public.
Flifla Chamia – Moute Habiba Messika – Gramophone, c. 1930 - There was near-consensus during the interwar period that Flifla Chamia was the greatest dancer of her generation.
Albert Suissa – Ghoniet Lefrak – Olympia, c. 1950s - That Albert Suissa’s biography and history have until now escaped is not surprising. In many ways, he lived in-between and embodied the painful essence of “lefrak” (“separation”).
Reinette l’Oranaise – Ya biadi ya nas – Polyphon, c. 1934 - If you listen carefully to the first thirty-seconds of Reinette’s recording of “Ya biadi ya nas,” Saoud himself is there in the background, lending his vocals to hers as she warms up.