France-Amerique
Press article published on www.france-amerique.com
November 19, 2009 
New York, NY
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English translation of the article below

At 47 years of age, this Algerian Jewish songwriter who grew up in Marseilles delivers songs at once intimate and political. His is a message without posturing, without hatred, just like his music and soft sound.

You've probably never heard of Albert Benichou. "I am neither young nor sexy enough to have been signed by a label," says the musician, in his forties, still confident. Yet this seemingly ordinary man deserves to be known. A songwriter and performer who mixes French chanson, jazz, folk and bossanova, Albert Benichou is one of those artists-artisans who write songs with the goal of having them heard. "My main ambition would be to earn just enough renown to be able to pursue my creative activities full-time," says the musician, who at present works as the manager of a recording studio."All the music on this site may be freely downloaded, copied, and passed to friends,” one reads for example on his webpage. But to transmit his message, both political and intimate, the stage remains his favorite playground. Even though, in the tradition of the great songwriters who have inspired him, like Georges Brassens and Georges Moustaki, he opted for lyrics in French, the artist still takes care that his message is understood, either by explaining it to his American audience, or by projecting simultaneous translations on a banner above the stage. Having followed his wife to Berkeley 11 years ago, this adopted Californian believes that this exile has also led to artistic progress. "Here,” he says, “as soon as people saw that I had a little talent they immediately pushed me to do something, and invited me to perform on stage. Not in France. In addition, the fact that I sing in French rather helped me; it seemed exotic."

Engaged but not Enraged
If music is central to Albert Benichou’s life, words are equally important. The themes he addresses vacillate between personal experience and political views. Although he is deeply engaged, the singer, who criticizes both "the culture of welfare of French society" and the Israeli oppression of Palestinians, defends positions that are difficult to define in terms of classic left-right cleavages. This traditional Jew who defines himself as "almost Orthodox" does not lend unconditional support to Israeli policy decisions. "If we have even a minimal sense of justice, we must defend the oppressed," he says with conviction. As in his song "Debout Petits" (Arise) in which to a soothing bossanova rhythm he urges young Israelis and Palestinians to end the armed conflict that has corroded this region for decades.