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Travel Tip: Pop Culture and Cinema in Spain
Orchestre National de Barbès

Orchestre National de Barbès
BARCELONA  •  Marina stage (Port Area)  •  Ongoing
Orchestre National de Barbès

Barbès is a neighborhood of Paris at the foot of the Sacré Coeur. Its streets are filled with restaurants serving couscous and bars laden with smoke where time passes slowly among domino players and the exotic music that the satellite dishes broadcast at full volume. People from all over Africa find a sort of haven here, and it is not unusual to cross paths with the popular queen of rai, Cheikha Remitti, on her way back to her hotel, or with musicians carrying their instruments, who are as common a sight at weddings as at cafés. It was in this area that the people who would later form the Orchestre National de Barbès met.

Everything happened in late 1995. Some experienced musicians, some already with successful solo recordings behind them, got together and decided to form a group that would combine the musical richness of Africa, from the north to sub-Saharan regions, focusing on the most festive rhythms and using tradition as a basis which they could adapt to modern sound.

Their first album was a live recording put out in 1997 by the title of "En Concert". Suddenly they were performing live at all the main venues of Europe and the US, and both audiences and critics realized beyond a doubt that they were witnessing the revelation of the year. Without using marketing techniques, the bandís popularity grew by word of mouth and the force of their performances until it reached unprecedented heights and they managed to sell over one hundred thousand copies of their debut album.

Though it may seem incredible, the Orchestre National de Barbès blends an infinity of styles with harmony and skill. Maghreb styles like the ancient gnawa music sung by the descendants of black slaves settling in Morocco, the chaabi, or the traditional music typical of Algeria, Andalusian music, Kabil music, rai, Zairian soukous, zouk from the Antilles, reggae, funk, rock and jazz are elements that these musicians combine perfectly in this surprising orchestra that seeks to make emigration less traumatic by uniting the sounds, dances and instruments of North and South.

Barcelona Forum 2004

Contact: Tel: (34) 902 24 20 04

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