Hamid Cheriet (Kabyle: Ḥamid Ceryat; 25 October 1945 – 2 May 2020), better known by his stage name Idir, was an Algerian Kabyle singer-songwriter and musician. Referred to as the "King of Amazigh music", he is regarded as one of the more significant figures in Algerian and Amazigh culture, history, and struggle. Along with musicians like Ferhat Mehenni and Lounis Aït Menguellet, Idir helped popularize Raï folk music.[1]

Idir performing in 2011
Idir performing in 2011
Background information
Birth nameHamid Cheriet
Also known asIdir
Born(1945-10-25)25 October 1945
Aït Yenni, Algeria
Died2 May 2020(2020-05-02) (aged 74)
Paris, France
GenresTraditional Kabyle music, pop, folk, fusion
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • musician
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, flute, percussions
Years active1976–2020

Initially training to be a geologist, his interest for music was piqued when he was called to sing on state radio as a late substitute. After finishing his compulsory military service, he moved to France in 1975 and embarked on his career in music. Idir took a hiatus during the 1980s before returning in 1993. He was a passionate advocate of the Kabyle and Berber cultures.[2]

Early life and careerEdit

Idir was born in Aït Lahcene, Aït Yenni, Tizi Ouzou Province (part of French Algeria at the time), on 25 October 1945.[2][3][4][5] He originally studied to become a geologist and worked at an oil and gas field.[2][6][7] In 1973, he was asked to be a late substitute for Nouara on Radio Algeria.[2][6] He sang "A Vava Inouva", a lullaby that incorporated the "rich oral traditions" of his Berber culture.[2] Although the song became popular, both in Algeria and abroad, Idir did not learn about this until after he finished his military conscription.[2][6] In 1975, he left for France to begin working on his debut album, also titled A Vava Inouva. The title track was translated into seven languages and became a major success. Idir would later comment how "the song had chosen [him]".[5] After releasing the album Ay Arrac Nneɣ, he took a break from writing music throughout the 1980s.[5]

Idir performing in Bondy, France, in 2008

Idir re-entered the music industry in 1993 when he released the album Les Chasseurs de Lumières ("The Light Hunters").[5] He became known as an ardent advocate of the Kabyle and Berber cultures.[6] In 1995, he performed together with fellow Berber Lounès Matoub,[8] who was murdered three years later.[9] His 1999 album, Identités, featured him singing with Manu Chao, Dan Ar Braz, Maxime Le Forestier, Gnawa Diffusion, Zebda, Gilles Servat, Geoffrey Oryema, and the Berber National Orchestra. It was ultimately a widespread success.[8]

Idir's release of the album La France des Couleurs ("France of Colors") coincided with the 2007 French presidential election,[8] in which Idir championed multiculturalism and immigration.[2] He released his final album, Ici et Ailleurs ("Here and Elsewhere") in 2017.[5] The following year, he returned to his native Algeria after being away for 38 years, since 1980. He held a concert there in support of the Algerian protests that eventually led to the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.[2]


Idir died on 2 May 2020 in Paris at age 70.[10] He had been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis and was hospitalized two days before his death.[2] News of his death was first announced on his official Facebook page, apparently posted by his children.[6] A message of condolence conveyed by Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the President of Algeria, via Twitter praised Idir as "an icon of Algerian art" and stated that the country had "lost one of its monuments".[2][11]

Identity and activismEdit

Idir participated in many concerts supporting different causes. For example, on 22 June 1995, more than 6,000 people attended a concert for peace, freedom, and tolerance performed by him and his friend, singer Khaled, initiators of the association "La France, la Vie" ("France and Life").[12] Idir also took part in the concert in memory of Lounès Matoub, the Kabyle singer who was assassinated in 1998.[12]

In 2001, Idir defended his national identity once again at "Le Zénith" in Paris at the "21st Berber Spring", a celebration of Berber culture. On 8 July that year, he organised a special fund-raising concert to support the population in Kabylie, at a time when anti-government riots were taking place in the predominantly-Berber region. Idir was joined by a number of stars and thousands of French fans who turned out to "Le Zénith" to support the population in Kabylie.[5]



Year Album Chart
1976 A Vava Inouva
1979 Ay arrac nneɣ (Ay Arrac Negh)
1980 Récital à l'Olympia
1991 A Vava Inouva
1993 Les chasseurs de lumières
1999 Identités 23
2002 Deux rives, un rêve
2005 Entre scènes et terres (live album) 125
2007 La France des couleurs 22
2013 Idir 43
2017 Ici et ailleurs[14] 12


Year Singles Chart
2002 "Pourquoi cette pluie?" 64 Deux rives, un rêve
2016 "A Vava Inouva" 131


  1. ^ "Idir Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Revered Algerian singer and Berber idol Idir dies at 70". Radio France Internationale. 3 May 2020. Archived from the original on 3 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Revered Algerian singer and Berber idol Idir dies at 70". France 24. 3 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  4. ^ Burdon-Manley, Laura (3 May 2020). "Algerian Berber musician Idir dies at 70". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "'Rest in peace, dad': Algerian singer and Berber musician Idir dies aged 70". The National. Abu Dhabi. 3 May 2020. Archived from the original on 3 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Algerian singer Hamid Cheriet – Idir – dies in France at 70". BBC News. 3 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  7. ^ Burdon–Manley, Laura (3 May 2020). "Algerian Berber musician Idir dies at 70". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 3 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "Vidéos : retour en chansons sur la carrière d'Idir, homme de partage". France 24. 3 May 2020. Archived from the original on 3 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020. (in French)
  9. ^ Slackman, Michael (10 October 2005). "A Slain Berber Singer's Voice Rouses His Hometown". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Le chanteur Idir, l'un des principaux ambassadeurs de la chanson kabyle, est mort". Le Monde (in French). 3 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Le Président de la République présente ses condoléances à la famille de l'artiste Idir". Algeria Press Service. 3 May 2020. Archived from the original on 3 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020. (in French)
  12. ^ a b "Idir, une voix kabyle pour chanter la réconciliation en Algérie". Le Monde. Paris. 27 September 1999. Archived from the original on 3 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020. (in French)
  13. ^ a b "LesCharts.com Idir discography page". Lescharts.com. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  14. ^ "" Ici et ailleurs ", le nouvel album d'Idir, sortira le 7 avril". Chouf-Chouf (in French). 2 March 2017. Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums – SNEP (Week 16, 2017)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 25 April 2017.[permanent dead link]


External linksEdit