Karim Saada

Karim Saada (Algeria/Québec)

photos communications 149 banjo

Karim Saada grew up listening to the Chaabi music wafting in from the casbah in Algiers where he was born. His father, a musician, was a master of the genre – an offshoot of the music of Arab-Andalusian culture based on string instruments blended with percussion, ney (a sort of reed flute) and qanûn (a type of oriental zither). He played there with his friends who were also fuelled by the same passion – the term “Chaabi” simply means “folk” or “popular” in Algerian.

It was in this fertile soil that Saada was inspired by that same fervour, turning to musical performance by patiently learning the art of the banjo, the mandol, and the guitar. He also later added his own vocals into his music. Algiers romances, Mediterranean melancholies and colourful tales took shape in his warm voice, revealing the sea and the desert, the Maghreb and Andalusia. 

He moved to, and made a name for himself on the Montreal music scene – impassioned by his roots and inspired by other cultures. Since then, he has released recordings, won awards, and strummed his banjo on many stages, bringing audiences into the alleyways of Bab-el-Oued, into the heart of the Algiers night.