Natacha Atlas


Natacha Atlas
Natacha Atlas

Natacha Atlas in concert, 2008
Background information
Born 20 March 1964 (1964-03-20) (age 47)
Origin Brussels, Belgium
Genres World music, Arabic pop music, Ethnic electronica
Occupations Singer, songwriter
Years active 1991–present
Labels Nation Records (1993–1997), Mantra Records (1998–2006) , Harmonia Mundi,
Six Degrees Records
Associated acts Mandanga, Transglobal Underground, Jah Wobble

Natacha Atlas (Arabic: نتاشا أطلس‎ ; born 20 March 1964) is a Belgian singer known for her fusion of Arabic and Western electronic music, particularly hip-hop. She once termed her music "cha'abi moderne" (modern popular music). Her music has been influenced by many styles including Arabic, hip hop, drum 'n' bass and reggae.

Atlas began her career as part of the world fusion group Transglobal Underground. In 1995, she began to focus on her solo career with the release of Diaspora. She has since released seven solo albums and been a part of numerous collaborations. Her version of "Mon Amie La Rose" became a surprise success in France, reaching 16 on the French Singles Charts in 1999. She is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Conference Against Racism.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Atlas was born to a father of Moroccan, Egyptian, and Palestinian ancestry[1] who was born in Jerusalem and a British mother who had converted to Islam. Her paternal grandfather was born in Egypt, but grew up in Palestine, immigrating to Europe at age 15.[2] She concedes to being "maybe 10 percent Jewish or something." Atlas says the claim that her father is purely Jewish and not Arab is "one of those things where someone had a grudge against me and wanted to hurt me. My grand-grand-grandfather was Jewish. But Jews have always been part of Arab society, so it’s not so unusual for someone to find out that they have Jewish blood. At the end of the day, we really are so connected."[3]

Atlas grew up in Laken, a suburb of Brussels, Belgium with a large Moroccan population. After her parents separated, Atlas went to live in Northampton, England with her mother.[4] Atlas learned several languages, including Arabic, French, English, and Spanish,[5] and has used them all in the course of her career.

Early career and Transglobal Underground

Atlas returned to Belgium at age 24 and began her career with two jobs as a belly dancer and the lead singer of a Belgian salsa band. In 1991, she recorded the track "Timbal" with Balearic Beat on the album ¡Loca!. Atlas also worked with Jah Wobble composing five tracks for the LP Rising above Bedlam. Through the recording of ¡Loca!, Atlas met British labelmates Transglobal Underground (TGU), who at the time had a Top 40 hit, "Templehead". She became the lead singer and belly dancer for the group, which focused on mixing Eastern and Western sounds as well as other styles.

Solo career

Most of Atlas' albums have been produced by TGU. She continues to focus on her Middle Eastern roots, as the titles of her albums imply: Diaspora (1995), Halim (1997) (in honour of Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez), Gedida (1998) and Ayeshteni (2001).

In 1999, Atlas collaborated with David Arnold on the song "One Brief Moment". The single featured a cover version of the James Bond theme song from the film You Only Live Twice. Two years earlier, Atlas had collaborated with Arnold on the album Shaken and Stirred, recording the song "From Russia with Love" for the eponymous film (originally performed by Matt Monro).

2000 saw her collaborate with Jean Michel Jarre for the track "C'est La Vie" on his album Métamorphoses. The track was released as a single.

Due to her French-language tracks, Atlas is now quite popular in France. In the U.K., on the other hand, she has not experienced the same amount of success. She is not very happy about the way her music is perceived in the UK: "Someone from the New Musical Express rang us about a feature we're to do with them and said 'We don't want it to be about the multi-cultural angle'. In other words that fad is over. And I'm personally insulted... what other... angle is there for us? I get sick of it all."[6]

In 2003, Atlas provided vocals for the Kolo folk dance song "'Ajde Jano" on Nigel Kennedy and Kroke's album, East Meets East.[7][8] In 2005, Atlas contributed the song "Just Like A Dream" (from Something Dangerous) to the charity album Voyces United for UNHCR.

Her music has been used in a number of soundtracks. Her song "Kidda" was featured on the Sex and the City 2 soundtrack[9] and in the 2005 video game Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories on Radio del Mundo. In 2003, her voice is heard in Hulk in the song "Hulk Escapes" [10]. Additionally, her song "Bathaddak" is one of the songs included in the 2007 Xbox 360 exclusive video game Project Gotham Racing 4. Atlas was originally billed to star in and provide the soundtrack to the film Whatever Lola Wants, directed by Nabil Ayouch. However, shooting delays caused Atlas to only be involved in the film's soundtrack. Her song "Gafsa" (Halim, 1997) was used as the main soundtrack during the Korean film Bin-Jip (also known as 3-Iron) (2004) by Kim Ki-Duk. She participated in the piece "Light of Life (Ibelin Reprise)" for the soundtrack of Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven.

In 2007, Atlas collaborated with Belinda Carlisle for Belinda's seventh album Voila. She contributed additional vocals on songs "Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp," "La Vie En Rose", "Bonnie et Clyde" and "Des Ronds Dans L'Eau." Voila was released via Rykodisc in the U.K. on 5 February 2007 and in the U.S. the following day.

The 2007 film Brick Lane features four songs with vocals by Atlas, "Adam's Lullaby", "Running Through the Night", "Love Blossoms" and "Rite of Passage". On 23 May 2008 Atlas released a new album, Ana Hina,[11] which was well-received by critics.[12][13] In 2008, two of Atlas' songs, "Kidda" and "Ghanwa Bossanova", were used in Shamim Sarif's romantic comedy about two women, I Can't Think Straight.

On 20 September 2010 Atlas released her newest album, Mounqaliba. Co-produced by Samy Bishai, it explores the more classical world. It is inspired by the poems of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.[14] She is also composing the music for Francoise Charpat's upcoming film.[15]

Personal life

In 1999, Atlas married Syrian kanun player Abdullah Chhadeh.[16] The couple divorced in 2005.[17] Atlas is now in a relationship with British Egyptian violinist Samy Bishai.[18] The couple divides their time between London and Condom, France.[15]

Atlas has said in the past that she is "technically Muslim" and that she identifies with Sufism,[17] but says that "these days I prefer to say that I'm Anglo-Middle Eastern and leave the religion out of it."[18] She is, however, open to other forms of spirituality because "it's important to be tolerant".[19]

In 2001, she was appointed by Mary Robinson as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Conference Against Racism.[20] Robinson chose Atlas because "she embodies the message that there is a strength in diversity. That our differences – be they ethnic, racial or religious – are a source of riches to be embraced rather than feared".[21]

Music themes

Atlas uses her multi-ethnic background when singing lyrics that often are intertwined with phrases from the Quran. She personally calls herself a "human Gaza Strip", reflecting her diverse Judaeo-Islamic background and thoughts relating to the Muslim and Jewish world.[4] In her music, Atlas makes many political statements regarding Islam and Judaism and often takes a middle ground approach advocating for peace and harmony. For example, her lyrics say "Why are we fighting/When we’re all together/Let’s return to peace/Let’s make peace, we are brothers" (from her song "Laysh Nata’arak").

During an interview with Muslim Wake Up! online magazine, Atlas talked about her identification with her European and Arabic roots by saying "There will always be two identities living within me: Arabic and European. When I was very young, I tried to ignore the Arabic side, my father’s side, because I saw it as foreign. But something happened in my late teens. I was at a nightclub in Brussels and I heard Arabic music, and I knew then that there was something inside of me that I wanted to go back to. So I ended up going to the other extreme. But as you mature, you realize that you have both inside you. That’s how God made me. These days I dream in two languages, and not a day goes by when I don’t end up using Arabic".[22][dead link]

Discography

Studio albums

Compilation albums

DVD

  • 2005: Transglobal Underground
  • 2009: The Pop Rose of Cairo

See also

References

  1. ^ "Natacha Atlas". John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. http://www.kennedy-center.org/explorer/artists/?entity_id=10775&source_type=B. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Nickson, Chris (1997), Transglobal Underground/Natacha Atlas: If You're Dancing, You're Danc Underground , reports that Atlas is "a Sephardic Jew on her father's side."
  3. ^ "Entretien avec Natacha Atlas" (in French). L'affiche: p. 26. 1995. 
  4. ^ a b Swedenburg, Ted. 2001. Islamic Hip- Hop vs. Islamophobia: Aki Nawaz, Natacha Atlas, Akhenaton. In Global Noise: Rap and Hip-hop Outside the USA, ed. Tony Mitchell 57-86. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.. Wesleyan University Press. 2002. ISBN 9780819565020. http://books.google.com/books?id=itcAedBA5CIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Global+Noise:+Rap+and+Hip-hop+Outside+the+USA&sig=p_FseAvbH6_9_fKDYH2aWX7vjSU. 
  5. ^ Alison Stewart (21 December 2008). "Natacha Atlas: Acoustic Takes, Arabic Classics". Weekly Edition Sunday. NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=98560834. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  6. ^ Molly McAnailly Burke (30 June 2000). "Atlas: "I f***king hate techno."". Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/h.php?news=atlas-quoti-fking-hate-techno.quot-2000-06-30. Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  7. ^ Lusk, Jon (10 December 2003). "Review of Nigel Kennedy & The Kroke Band - East Meets East". BBC Review. BBC Music. http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/4vjw. Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  8. ^ "East Meets East by Nigel Kennedy". Artists > Nigel Kennedy > Albums. ARTISTdirect.com. http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,2643452,00.html. Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  9. ^ WaterTower Music. "Sex And The City 2". Watertower-music.com. http://www.watertower-music.com/?p=4328. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 
  10. ^ IMDB. "Hulk (2003)". http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1255806/. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Hutcheon, David (24 May 2008). "Natacha Atlas: Ana Hina". London: The Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/cd_reviews/article3977020.ece. Retrieved 29 May 2008. 
  12. ^ Rakha, Youssef. "Ana Hina - Natacha Atlas & The Mazeeka Ensemble (World Village)". The National. 9 September 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  13. ^ Denselow, Robin. "CD: Natacha Atlas, Ana Hina". The Guardian. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  14. ^ a b Franck Meslin (18 May 2010). "Singer Natacha Atlas moves to Condom". Sud-Ouest. http://www.sudouest.fr/2010/05/18/la-chanteuse-natacha-atlas-s-installe-a-condom-94614-2362.php. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  15. ^ a b My House, Gers and Egypt
  16. ^ "Artists: Natacha Atlas". World Village. http://www.worldvillagemusic.com/anglais/artistesfiche.php?artist_id=94. Retrieved 17 September 2008. 
  17. ^ a b Meadley, Phil (21 April 2006). "Natacha Atlas: Uncharted territory". London: The Independent'. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/natacha-atlas-uncharted-territory-474913.html. Retrieved 29 July 2008. 
  18. ^ a b Michael Dwyer (10 March 2009). "Seeking a world in harmony". The Age. http://www.theage.com.au/news/entertainment/music/seeking-a-world-in-harmony/2009/03/09/1236447129565.html. Retrieved 23 February 2010. 
  19. ^ "Natacha Atlas: A Woman and Musician of the World". LAsThePlace.com. http://lastheplace.com/2007/03/20/natacha-. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 
  20. ^ "Natacha Atlas: Biography". Beggars Group USA. http://beggarsgroupusa.com/natachaatlas/biography/. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  21. ^ Cartwright, Garth. "BBC Awards for World Music 2007: Middle East and North Africa: Natacha Atlas". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/worldmusic/a4wm2007/2007_natacha_atlas.shtml. Retrieved 29 July 2008. 
  22. ^ Natacha Atlas website - natachaatlas.net

External links


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