The World

We stay in Paris for today’s Global Hit. That’s where the French-Algerian singer named Soha lives. Soha’s on the road more often than not. Reporter Thomas Marzahl recently caught up with her in Berlin.

It doesn’t take long for Soha to reveal her fascination with language. “Tourbillon” or whirlwind is the first track on her new album. It kicks off in Spanish.

Tell me about love, tell me about the sky, she sings, before switching into French. Soha glides effortlessly among three languages: English, French and Spanish.

SOHA: “I have a real passion for the Spanish language. It knows how to interpret emotions and everything connected to love. And you can show a tragic side with Spanish, too.

Plus, foreign languages allow me to say things that modesty might keep me from expressing in French.”

Not that there’s anything too risque on this album. There’s a dance song about the fleetingness of love, a meditation on what the earth looks like from on high,

SOHA: “Dream Club is a song about a type of club that exists only in my head. It’s like those clubs that closed over the years where you heard the all-time greatest jazz musicians or singers. So I like to think that the ghosts of these artists live on just a little bit in my music today.”

Soha was born in Marseille in 1975 to Algerian parents. Her older siblings introduced her to disco, funk and soul; later she fell in love with the French chansons of Jacques Brel and the jazz songs of Sarah Vaughan. So the title of her first album, “D’ici d’ailleurs,” “From here and somewhere else” is apropos.

SOHA: “D’ici d’ailleurs” – that title corresponds with who I feel I am. I’m a girl from France and I’m a girl from the world, too, a citizen of the world. So my music has been inspired by the French chanson and by the songs that come from all over the world.”

Soha says she struggled with mood swings for many years. The song “Ma Melancolie” is about coming to terms with those moods. But if you don’t hear the sadness in her song� well, Soha says you’re right. Here she switches to English.

SOHA: “The melancholy for me is not sadness, it’s a mix between nostalgia, love, sometimes regret and I love this feeling. This kind of feeling, I’m like that, I’m a melancholic person.”

D’ici et d’ailleurs has sold more than 50,000 copies in France. And Soha’s debut was a nominee this year as best world music album in France. It’s due to be released in the US later this year.

For The World, I’m Thomas Marzahl in Berlin.

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