"Every one of us has a story in his heart... Storyteller, tell us stories to make us forget our reality. Leave us in the world of once upon a time."
So go some of the lines from "Raoui" ("Storyteller"), the opening song in this Tiny Desk Concert with Algerian singer-songwriter Souad Massi. Performing in a mix of North African Arabic, Berber and French, Massi has carved out a life for herself as just such a storyteller. Her unflinching, deeply intimate songs — paired with her beautiful, cool light-beam of a voice — belie the struggles she's endured to make her own stories heard.
The year was 1965. The place: Newport, Rhode Island. A young Bob Dylan took the stage at the Newport Folk Festival; a harmonica around his neck, and a guitar over his shoulder. But this time, something new - a wailing Stratocaster guitar. In 1965, folk music was acoustic music, period. And the crowd? Not happy that Bobby was plugged in.
Algerian singer and guitarist Souad Massi paid a visit to the U.S. recently, touring to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Algeria's independence. While in D.C., she stopped by NPR's headquarters to play a Tiny Desk Concert.
After the show, she came downstairs to chat with Weekend Edition Sunday, carrying a guitar on her back. Massi says she's never without one and doesn't really care if it's an acoustic or electric.
After the dust of the Dust Bowl settled down, American folksinger Woody Guthrie moved to New York City and played more for the leftist East Coast intelligentsia than for migrant workers. Among these performances, one of the better documented was an informal concert in a remarkable carriage house in Lenox, Mass.