Khadja Nin

Born : 27/6 /1959 in Burundi
Country : Burundi
Category : Female Artist
Style of music : world music

  Khadja Nin was born in Burundi on 27 June 1959. The youngest of a family of eight children, Khadja was brought up in a highly creative environment by her mother and diplomat father, studying music from an early age like most of her brothers and sisters. Khadja soon proved to have an exceptional singing voice and at the tender age of 7, she became one of the lead vocalists in the Bujumbara choir and performed in the local cathedral.

  Khadja Nin was born in Burundi on 27 June 1959. The youngest of a family of eight children, Khadja was brought up in a highly creative environment by her mother and diplomat father, studying music from an early age like most of her brothers and sisters. Khadja soon proved to have an exceptional singing voice and at the tender age of 7, she became one of the lead vocalists in the Bujumbara choir and performed in the local cathedral.

The young girl developed a veritable passion for music and by the age of 14 she had already formed her own group. The group would perform together for only two years, however, Khadja leaving Burundi in 1975 to go and study in Kinshasa (the capital of Zaïre).

Khadja would get married in 1978. Two years later she would leave her homeland with her two-year-old son and settle in Belgium, where her singing career would eventually get off the ground.

After spending several years working as a backing singer and film extra, Khadja's major break came in 1985 when she met the guitarist Nicolas Fiszman. Impressed by Khadja's exceptional voice, Fiszman would offer to become her producer and the pair went on to write a number of songs together. Then in 1991 Khadja Nin finally landed a recording deal with a major label, BMG. She promptly went into the recording studio with Fiszman to begin work on her debut album.

Released at the beginning of 1992, Khadja Nin's first album was entirely recorded in Swahili (the lingua franca of East Africa). But the twelve smooth, rather melancholy, tracks on the album were not purely African, Khadja Nin choosing to mix traditional African sounds with Brazilian and Cuban rhythms. She even ventured into modern rock territory with more upbeat songs such as "Mulofa".

Not black, not white - but coffee-coloured !

Khadja Nin's aim from the very beginning of her career has been to create interesting musical fusions capable of crossing gographical and cultural divides - the singer once famously declared "My music should not be classified as 'white' or 'black' - it's coffee-coloured !"

Two years after the release of her debut album, Khadja Nin returned to the studio to record another album, entitled simply "Ya Pili" (Swahili for 'the second one). "Ya Pili" was even more of a musical fusion than Khadja Nin's first album, mixing traditional African and Afro-Cuban rhythms with modern Western pop melodies. Khadja Nin recorded most of her second album in Swahili once again, although "Ya Pili" did include one song in English and another recorded in French.

But it was the single release "Sambolera Mayi Son" (taken from "Ya Pili") which would really catapult Khadja Nin to fame. This song about a mother describing the world to her new-born baby (Khadja Nin has always shown herself to be deeply comitted to environmental concerns) would soar to the top of the French charts in 1996, after the TV channel TF1 selected it as their hit of the summer.

Khadja Nin's video was shown several times a day on TF1, causing the singer's single and album sales to rocket. Encouraged by the phenomenal success of "Sambolera", Khadja Nin promptly went back to the studio to record her third album. This album, which featured a mix of brand new titles and re-workings of Khadja Nin's earlier material, proved an even greater success. Indeed, within two months of its release the singer's new album sold a staggering 200,000 copies, earning Khadja Nin two gold discs. Khadja Nin recently acknowledged the role French television had played in launching her career, declaring that "TF1's decision to help promote an African artist was a real blessing". (Given these recent album sales and her truly exceptional voice, Khadja Nin looks like she won't be needing much of a helping hand in future!)

Continuing her vertiginous rise to fame, Khadja Nin released a new album, "Ya…" (From You To Me), in October 98. Khadja's new album featured tracks recorded in Swahili, but also in Kirundi (the official language of Burundi). The singer wrote all the lyrics on this new album herself, using the opportunity to bring up the subjects closest to her heart (street children, war and her ongoing struggle against inequality of all kinds). "Ya…" also included a personal tribute to Nelson Mandela and a song about motherhood, entitled "Mama". This song was chosen for release as the first single and the famous French actress Jeanne Moreau agreed to star in Khadja Nin's new video.

Khadja As Co-star

Khadja Nin was back in the music news in 1999, supporting Sting at a series of concerts in New York. Khadja brought the house down with some superb performances, sharing the stage with Rai star Cheb Mami, whom Sting had also invited on tour with him. The trio teamed up again on 10 January 2000, playing to a capacity audience at Bercy Stadium in Paris.

Khadja, who is now based in Monaco, has made several unsuccessful attempts to return to Burundi. In fact, the singer still lives in hope of living in her homeland again one day.

January 2000

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