Country of Origin: Tunisia
Domain of expertise: Social Inclusion
AKMA Cycle Year: Cycle 2019
Badiaa Bouhrizi, also known by her stage name Neysatu, is a singer-songwriter and composer who represents the alternative music scene in Tunisia. She began her performing career at age seven as a soloist in a local choir, subsequently joining the Tahar Haddad choir, which performs classical styles of Arabic music such as
Badiaa Bouhrizi, also known by her stage name Neysatu, is a singer-songwriter and composer who represents the alternative music scene in Tunisia. She began her performing career at age seven as a soloist in a local choir, subsequently joining the Tahar Haddad choir, which performs classical styles of Arabic music such as muwashshahat and ma’luf. Later she moved to Paris to study musicology at the University of Paris VIII and focus on making music. Eventually, she found her personal voice when she began composing in a minimalist style influenced by the Amazigh Berber music of northwest Tunisia, and chose the stage name Neysatu.
She debuted in 2011 in Al-Azhar Park in Cairo, singing and playing acoustic guitar alongside German percussionist David Kuckhermann. Since then, she has collaborated with musicians of many different nationalities and performance styles, most recently, the London-based Afrobeat fusion group Awalé. She sings in fuṣḥá (Modern Standard Arabic), and her style is self-described as a “new sound of Northern Africa,” a mixture of local traditions, classical Arabic music, jazz, funk, neo-soul, electronica, and reggae. Though she has periodically been banned from performing in Tunisia because her lyrics discuss political resistance, Tunisians attach the word “Miltazema” (Arabic for “committed”) to her name, a title given to artists who are committed to the promotion of freedom and justice.
Her song “Manifesto” is about her brother’s incarceration as a socio-political rapper who was unjustly arrested and jailed for making dissent music. She also composed and performed a song written by Palestinian resistance poet Fadwa Touqan called “Ila Salma,” which was dedicated to the Palestinian writer Salma Al-Jayyousi. In 2011, she won the Arab alternative song award for her song “Ila Selma,” and earned an Al Mawred Al Thaqafi scholarship, which gave her the means to produce her first album.