With an aim to encourage tolerance and collaboration Mohamed Mounir, widely regarded as royalty among Egyptian musicians, and Algerian Cheb Khalid, the “King of Rai,” held their long-awaited concert at the Akhbar Al-youm Academy on November 12. The concert was held only a few days prior to a world cup qualifier football match between Egypt and Algeria to promote comradeship between the two nations regardless of the outcome.
“It is not a game, it is music” said Mohamed Mounir at the press conference held a day before the concert. The concert went on for more than three hours and was a great success, merging music and lyrics against a backdrop of cheers from the crowd.
Khalid began with “Ouelli El Darek” and Mounir joined him with his successful old-time hit “Shamandoura.” “It’s all about improvising, we did not do any rehearsals,” said Mounir, who considers improvisation, as easy as it may seem, a difficult and complicated process that requires a good sense of the other singer’s music and the instinct to find the right beat and the most convenient piece of music.
After handing the stage over to Khalid, Mounir returned with a new fusion of his hit “So ya so” with Khalid’s “Abdel Kader,” which rocked the stage for nearly fifteen minutes. As Mounir sang, Khalid chimed in and they played “Hekmet Lakdar” and “Chocolata.” “Contrary to what a lot of people may think, Rai music is very similar to Nubian music,” explained Mounir, “It might be hard to merge my music with Amr Diab or Ali Al-Haggar, but I can easily play with Khalid.”
Each singer played their crowd-pleasing classics, to help take the audience’s mind off the tensions surrounding the Egypt versus Algeria game, and help them enjoy the fusion between the two kings’ music, if only for a few hours. “At the football game, a team should win, but in our concert we are all winners,” concluded Mounir.