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Hasna el Becharia

Hasna el Becharia is a remarkable Gnawa woman musician from Algeria. She is sometimes known as a Gnawa poetess. Her home town, Bechar, is in the desert area of southern Algeria.
To start with Hasna played wedding music of the Arab-Berber style for a period of 30 years. She began to play that music by herself in 1972 and was joined by 3 friends, two of whom, Zorah and Kheira, are still with her. At first Hasna played acoustic guitar using the desert's traditional tunes. Eventually she had to resort to the electric guitar instead so that she could be heard above the noise her vast audience was making while singing along with her! Hasna and her friends became well known in southern Algeria.
A major event took place 4 years later in 1976 - a concert in Bechar organized by the Union of Algerian Women, with the legendary Hasna and her band being guest stars. Like numerous Algerian gnawa musicians, Hasna takes her roots in the popular wedding repertoire. She also plays oud, derbouka, bendir and even banjo (but she used to play gumbri only discreetly behind closed doors in her home).
In January 1999, Hasna arrived in Paris, invited to the « Women of Algeria » festival at the Cabaret Sauvage, just as Souad Massi was. Fascinated by her music, the festival organisers decided to put her on stage every night, although it had planned that she play one evening only. Journalists and producers came to see this incredible woman guitar player from the desert and the French newspaper «Libération » published an article about her. She decided to stay in Paris because the circumstances in Algeria were difficult for her to live under. In August that year Hasna
joined the French electronic musician Fred Galliano in a concert at the “Festival de Jazz à Vienne”.
Other highlights of Hasna's career were to star in the “Gnaoua Festival of Essaouira”

and the “Beautiful Nights of Ramadan”. Both concerts were broadcast worldwide on TV5.
Hasna works with the theatre/circus company 'Salam Toto' in a show where horses dance to her music.
Hasna was one of the main figures of the “Festival Voix de Femmes” (Women’s Voices festival) in 2002 in Bruxelles; she performed at London's South Bank in 2003 and at the second PanAfrican festival in Algiers in July 2009.
Hasna's first CD, the 9-track CD Djazair Johara, was released in 2001. Hasna composed most of the recorded songs in France. Totally uncorrupted by stage or studio performance, she takes advantage of these new experiences to explore the sound of guitars, vocal timbres on different tonalities, to improvise and make new encounters: listen out for mesmerizing polyrhythms! The recording includes great musicians from Algeria, but also from Morocco, Tunisia and Niger. They have brought perfection and rigor. Thus Hasna's work achieves a dimension far beyond the scope of Algerian music.
One track, 'Hakmet Lakdar' is on the Desert Blues 2 compilation. Hasna recorded her second album Smaa Smaa (2010) among the dunes of the Sahara with extraordinary and simple acoustics. She describes it as a very personal album. Hasna is currently on tour in Canada and at Festival du bout du monde in France.