Three Generations of Ehel Meidah

Mohammed ould Ahmedou ould Meidah was the first Mauritanian singer I met.  In the summer of 1999 I was asking every contact I had in Nouakchott if they could introduce me to musicians.  One of my neighbors told me that she knew the house of a famous singer.  The next afternoon we walked up to a small house in the Socogim Ksar neighborhood.  Unexpected, we walked into the courtyard and announced ourselves.  A few minutes later Mohammed ould Meidah came out of a side room, greeted us warmly, and sat us down in his living room.  I was clueless and excited, he was gracious and welcoming.  Over the next several hours Mohammed talked about his career and worked through a few songs accompanied by one of his sons on guitar. It was overwhelming.  He has a great voice and is a masterful singer.

That afternoon Mohammed told me an unforgettable story.  In 1977 he was part of the Mauritanian delegation that participated in the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), held in Lagos, Nigeria.  One night Mohammed and his group were invited to perform for a ceremony organized by the Gabonese embassy. The guitar player Mohammed had brought with him to Nigeria was sick that night so Mohammed accompanied himself, interspersing his vocals with ripping guitar fills.  At the end of the performance an enthusiastic spectator came up to Mohammed and started talking excitedly to him in English.  This spectator was Ike Turner.  He was freaking out about Mohammed's guitar playing and the following day he came by Mohammed's hotel for a tutorial on Mauritanian guitar playing.

This first recording features Mohammed accompanied on electric guitar.  This is a recording that was most probably made in someone's living room.  At several points in the recording you can hear the evening's host recite a few lines of poetry to Mohammed and Mohammed then putting the lines to music.

Mohammed ould Meidah - Nadwiya

Mohammed is the son of Ahmedou ould Meidah, one of the greatest tidinitt players and vocalists from the Trarza region (southeast Mauritania).  Ahmedou was featured on this recording, made by the great Charles Duvelle.  Here is a recording of Ahmedou and Mahjouba mint Meidah.  I suspect that this recording was made in the studios of Radio Mauritania.


Ahmedou ould Meidah

Today the musical legacy of the Meidah family is being carried forward by Mohammed's son Rachid, who has become one of the more popular singers on the Nouakchott wedding circuit.  He has a fantastic voice and is a very good guitar player.

This first video features Mohammed and Rachid together, singing in their living room (this video gives you an idea of what it was like for me when i first heard Mohammed sing back in 1999).



This second video features Rachid accompanying himself on acoustic guitar.  Check out his right hand technique, astounding.  This clip was shot during one of the more popular seasons of a singing contest produced by Mauritanian TV--think Mauritanian idol, with the particularity that all of the contestants are from griot families.



I hope you enjoy the music. These recordings feature the meditative style of beydane modal music.  This style may need more time to pull you in than the guitar breakdowns featured on the Wallahi le Zein compilation but this is the style of Mauritanian music I find most moving. Thanks to RadioTVSahel for posting the picture of Ahmedou ould Meidah. 

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    1. Thanks for getting in touch priffe. Are you interested in more Mauritanian music or more, specifically, from the Meidah family?

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