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Rachid Taha, singer who fused Arabic music and rock, dies at 59

Singer Rachid Taha performs in Budapest in 2007.

Singer Rachid Taha performs in Budapest in 2007. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images / ATTILA KISBENEDEK

PARIS — Algerian singer Rachid Taha, who thrillingly blended Arabic music with rock and techno and at times wore blue contact lenses to protest anti-Arab prejudice in his adoptive France, has died. He was 59.

Taha’s record label, Naive, announced his death in a statement Wednesday on its Facebook page. It said he died overnight Tuesday to Wednesday following a heart attack at his home in the Paris suburb of Les Lilas.

Believe Digital, which owns Naive, confirmed the veracity of the statement.

Taha had recently finished recording an album due for release in 2019. He was scheduled to film the first music video for one of the new songs, “Je suis Africain” (“I am African”), this weekend, Believe Digital said.

Born Sept. 18, 1958, in Algeria, Taha would have marked his 60th birthday next week. He moved to France at age 10 with his parents.

With the group Carte de Sejour (Residence Permit), Taha caused a stir in France in 1986 with a husky-voiced rocky cover of legendary singer-songwriter Charles Trenet’s sentimental, patriotic “Douce France” (“Sweet France”).

The group distributed copies of the song in France’s parliament as lawmakers were debating changes to the country’s nationality laws.

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