Abdel Ali Slimani

Abdel Ali Slimani was born in the U Anasser district of Algiers, the heart of a vibrant cosmopolitan port with one eye on Europe, the other on Africa. Music was a pervasive aspect of his childhood, from traditional Saharan and Berber dances to Western funk to reggae and Arab styles. During his teens he witnessed the explosion of Rai music, a youthful revolution headed by Khaled. Ali was entranced and dreamed of becoming a singer.

After traveling and working around Europe he settled in England, where he became known as a DJ and Rai enthusiast amongst the North African community in London, whipping up storms at weddings and parties as well as singing and playing impromptu sessions.

In 1991, when Jah Wobble was looking for a new singer for his Invaders of the Heart band, Ali came to his attention. Within three weeks of their first meeting, he was singing onstage at a WOMAD festival in Toronto, Canada. The new Invaders line-up caused a sensation.

Over the next three years Ali Slimani was an integral part of the Invaders of the Heart line-up, which transcended musical boundaries and created powerful and inspiring music, in concerts all over the world and on record. His contribution to the classic Take Me To God album was considered by many to be a highlight of a star-studded recording.

Ali duetted with Sinead O’Connor on the 12″ version of her ‘Fire In Babylon’ single, and put in an astonishing performance on Top of the Pops – the first Arab singer ever to appear on the legendary TV programme.

Further reading

Live Review: WOMAD Charlton Park 2018

'The world's festival' delivers another excellent musical feast amid artist visa difficulties.

Behind the scenes with Bokanté in new video for ‘Fanm’

Featuring scenes from the recording sessions with the Metropole Orkest and Jules Buckley

Track of the Day: ‘In The Sun’ by Joseph Arthur

A look back on Arthur's most popular song, which featured on 2000's Come To Where I'm From.

And The Beat Goes On: A profile of Remmy Ongala

Remmy Ongala was Tanzania's most famous musician and originator of the bongo beat.