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Takfarinas was born not long before the rai revolution of Algeria in a predominantly Kabyle (one of the prime Berber groups in the area) region of the Algiers districts. Picking up Arabian, Algerian, French, Spanish, and English songs on the radio, his influences were many, but primarily regional forms with touches of influence from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Edith Piaf. Supported by his father, he trained on a makeshift guitar or two before moving up to an actual instrument, then quickly went into recording, with his first single in Algiers, his first album in Paris, and his first group soon after. After two albums with his Agraw group, he went solo again, now fusing Berber and Andalusian rhythms with Kabyle traditional song formats for a new form of regional music. Along the way, he also modified an old mandole with a second neck and set of strings (among other things), separating masculine and feminine tones from one another (he now uses a similar electric instrument). In 1979 he fled Algeria in favor of France, as many artists did under the dictatorial rule of Algeria. A number of albums and sold-out Parisian and Algerian concerts followed, with the latest album on the world markets being Tinder's Yal in 2000. Takfarinas continues performing and recording regularly. ~ Adam Greenberg

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