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Kamel Zennia & His Band at Tropicalia

November 7 @ 9:00 pm

Doors 8PM

For over 20 years, singer-songwriter Kamel Zennia has performed his heart’s purpose, setting fire to music on several lands and in several languages.

Born in Tigzirt-sur-Mer, Algeria, into the sumptuous riches of Kabyle Berber culture, Kamel was raised at a crossroads of customs and influences. With the Mediterranean at his doorstep, he was quick to find poetry and melody in his surroundings, which from a young age shaped his musical palate with both ancestral and modern Berber traditions, and African, European, and Middle Eastern rhythms.

In 1986, Kamel’s older brother bought him an Italian steel-string acoustic guitar, initiating a lifelong affaire de coeur with music that would set him on the path of a modern-day troubadour. Four years later, after many a moonlit night spent picking up riffs with hometown friends on Tigzirt’s seductive shorelines, memorizing chords and tinkering with lyrics, he packed up his guitar and left for Europe.

Following a brief touchdown in Germany, Kamel settled in Odense, Denmark’s third largest city, acclaimed for its international and underground music scene. There he tried his hand at culinary school but was too distracted by the siren’s call of the city’s busker-friendly boulevards and open-mic nights to trade in his guitar for gastronomy. Instead he formed the band El Trio Tropical along with musicians from Russia and Bolivia, and began playing Latin music and gypsy rumbas. Kamel became renowned for his rousing strumming and excruciatingly sentimental vocals - talents that kept the gigs coming and consequently landed him a spot with Latin rock band Los Bandidos in the Midtfyns Festival, one of Northern Europe’s then-largest outdoor music events, performing in front of a crowd 60,000-strong.

Kamel left Denmark for the U.S. in 1996. Lured by America’s potent bounty of musical genres and cultural diversity, he resettled in Washington, DC, and soon co-founded the band Gibraltar. Much like the land of Gibraltar itself - a territory legendary for its multiethnic mix - the band Gibraltar intersected several styles to create a fresh fusion of Algerian folk-rock and Western beats. The group established itself as a staple of the DC world music scene and had a successful 10-year run, performing in bars, embassies, and festivals along the East Coast.

Now a solo artist, Kamel Zennia is drawing on the lessons of his international journeys and his hearty roots to break new ground. His songs - sung from his soul in Tamazight (Berber), French, and Spanish - speak of seduction, heritage, resolve, and the exuberance of life with tenderness and grit. True to the nomad within, he blends Kabyle folk-rock, desert blues, and rumba flamenca with reggae and Andalusian accents.

Jose Vega on Bass
Xavier Bure on percussions
Perry Dunbar on drums
Hacene Zennia Guitar/vocals


November 7
9:00 pm


2001 14th St, NW, Lower Level - Corner of U & 14th (Enter From U St, Down Stairs), Washington, District of Columbia, DC 20009 United States
(202) 629-4535