Fly Project

Fly Project

Khaled Hadj Brahim, better known to music fans as the Algerian Rai star Khaled, was born in Sidi El Houari, a suburb of Oran, on 29 February 1960. Khaled, who came from a modest background (his father earnt a meagre salary working in the garage of the local police station) developed a passion for music at an early age. His early influences were mostly Oriental - Khaled would listen to a lot of Moroccan singers - but the young boy was also a great fan of Western rock'n'roll heroes such as Elvis Presley and the French star Johnny Hallyday.

At the age of 7 Khaled vowed that he would one day follow in the footsteps of his musical idols and launch his own singing career. The only problem was that young Khaled had practically no day-to-day contact with the music world. Indeed, nobody in his immediate family was at all musically-minded, apart from his paternal uncle he used to play the accordion from time to time. Khaled decided he would make his own way in the music world and at the age of 14 he formed his first group, "Les Cinq Etoiles", and began performing at circumcision feasts and wedding parties as well as on the local cabaret scene. When his father discovered his Khaled was performing on the cabaret circuit without his permission and, what's more, skiving off his school lessons for rehearsals, he was furious and punished his son severely. All to no avail. Khaled was expelled from school shortly after his 14th birthday and found himself free to devote all his time and energy to his singing career.

Khaled's singing career soon got off to a flying start, when he recorded his first single "Trig El Lici", on a simple two-track tape recorder. Released as a single in 1974, "Trig El Lici" proved a massive hit on Algerian radio stations, attracting young Khaled an instant following of fans. Yet Khaled, who had become known locally as Cheb Khaled (the Algerian word Cheb basically means 'young', 'charming' and 'attractive'), would not earn a penny in royalties from his first hit, owing to a lack of recording contract. The young singer was forced to continue earning his living from a string of odd jobs, working as a waiter and cobbler.