the discussion tree
INTERVIEW WITH NEILA TAZI
TRIBUTE TO THREE GREAT MAALEMS
"SOCIETIES IN MOVMENT, YOUTH OF THE WORLD"
SOLO ARTISTS ON MAJOR STAGES
INTIMATE CONCERTS P24
OPENING PARADE AND OFF FESTIVAL EVENTS P25
A MUSIC CELEBRATION
THE DISCUSSION TREE P27
OUR PARTNERS P47
After fifteen years of work and search for creativity, the Gnaoua and World Music Festival remains
an event eagerly anticipated by thousands of music lovers and people passionately attracted by this
encounter overflowing with freshness and optimism.If the history of this still youngFestival is brimming
with incandescent moments whose magic is equal only to its spontaneity,it’ssurely due to the Gnaoua
themselves, to the musicians hailing from the four corners of the planet, to the overwhelming beauty
of Essaouira,and to a certain idea of fusion promoted from the very outset and now constituting a major
component in the prevailing artistic setting. This space open for just a few days is not only the theater
of a sought after and fleeting dream; it is the bearer of values of universality we are committed to
defendrelentlessly. As a nodal point, the recognition of an art which is absolutely unique in the world
withcenturies’old African roots which have enabled it to spread across North Africa, and that we aspire
today to be part of the UNESCO oral and immaterial world heritage.
On the eve of the openingofthe16th edition of this passionate Festivalrenewing these fusion gettogethers, I wish to pay particular tribute to the many women and men so ready to confront difficulties
and mobilize each year with rekindled enthusiasm in building favorable conditions allowing Moroccan
and foreign Festival goers to meet on the same grounds of understanding and musical communion.
For the purpose of deepening these interchanges, we reinstated last year the Forum which in addition to
the "Discussion Tree", now in its seventh year of existence, is being added to the music, as a meeting place
for words and reflection. During the previous edition, cultural and political actors, journalists, artists
and other stakeholders debated about cultures in a setting of total freedom.The outstanding speeches of
some andthe emotion urge for by others were favorable to a high quality dialogue, sometimes in musical
form, and often highly worthwhile, lending this approach its full significance. This year we are united
around the theme of « Societies in Movement, World Youth ». The upheavals in societies experienced on
both sides of the Mediterranean are largely attributable to youth and its stance on changes in social and
political issues.Ever since its creation, this Festival has always pinned its hopes on youth,therefore it is
only normal that we host this fundamental debate on the future of our societies.
At Essaouira from june 20th to june23rd 2013 once we promise to experience once again the particular
alchemy of music, the city and people, an alchemy rendering this project a festivalresolutely “unlike any
Neila TAZI ABDI
Festival Director and Producer
IN THE CITY OF THE TRADE WINDS
Sixteen years ago the idea seemed improbable, extravagant and even irrational. Today, nothing appears
to be more legitimate than our annual get-together with Gnaoua music in Essaouira. Even though at
the outset some people did not believe in the Gnaoua and World Music Festival, today, failing to attend
In sixteen years the determination of a handful of people has caused mentalities to move ahead and
fine tone listening. What a long path covered since then in the struggle against preconceived ideas…
everything has transpired on the stage. The proof lies in the music.
Sixteen years of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival is equivalent to as many years of aesthetic
research, revaluation of national heritage and ethic music.
The Gnaoua and World Music Festival of Essaouira has never lost sight of its African roots and unceasingly
strives to refer thereto. Every year it stages this music in its full array of expression.
A festival of Gnaoua means celebrating Africa in what it has to offer in magic, authenticity, the old and
the new, and all that is truly vital!
Here we are once again ready to celebrate Gnaoua music and spirit for the sixteenth consecutive year.
This would never have been possible without the reiterated confidence expressed by our partners and
even though our musical encounter has nothing more to prove, today it is entirely thanks to those who
have lent their support and continue to do so. The Festival is now well established and widely acclaimed.
Its faithful public continues to throng to the stages while another one is renewed over and over again
every year. This great musical event has nothing more to prove other than that it remains ever ready
to listen to the old and the new and continues to induce vibrations into our bodies, to address the must
subtle of our sense and stimulate our deepest musical emotions.
The history of this Festival is a success story that never fails to astonish and inspire emotion.
Naturally, the proof is on the stage!
Gnaoua music is the lifeblood that continues to feed spirits and hearts. The Festival takes nourishment
therefrom as it does for those sharing in its values. This year it is Nneka, Maceo Parker who promises
to accompany us in this trip of initiation inside their magical world alongside Will Calhoun, the mythical
drummer of the Living Colour band, or Eska and her ever so jazzy sonorities.
The programmers, archeologists of music, search out and discover the best performers and musicians.
At the Gnaoua and World Music Festival one doesn’t just dream, one lives one’s dreams of music and
Africa is at the heart of this year’s program.What meaning do you lend to this artistic direction?
The programming of our Festival has always reserved much space to artists from sub-Saharan countries.
This has been, for many obvious reasons, in connection with the history of the Gnaoua, and their black
African origins. The title Gnaoua and World Music places Gnaoua and African music at the crossroads of
all music. Upon contact with the West, the music types invented by black Africans are myriad: the Blues,
Gospel, Jazz, Rock ‘n Roll, r’n’b’, rap, Reggae, Salsa, Soul, as well as the Candomblé of Brazil, and Haitian
Voodoo. All have common roots in black Africa. Therefore it is interesting to take the same trip in the
opposite direction and invite artists from all these regions of the world to reconnect with the roots of these
diverse types of music.
This is probably what constitutes the artistic force of this Festival, this reconnecting with the sources of many
musicians embracing fusions with powerful music has transcended all epochs at the risk of disappearance
and finally becoming overwhelmingly trendy!
They say that the Festival has reached maturity. To you what does this expression mean?
Maturity of the Festival means that we have been over the hardest stages and that the Festival is finally
moving along the path of serenity and longevity.It must be recalled that over the past fifteen years this
Festival has had to contend with numerous difficulties. These were of all sorts but we have managed to
overcome them. What is so important is that the Festival has managed to resist and occupy a position
among the most highly sought after on the world musical stage. It has managed to federate, to win over
the confidence of the public authorities and elected officials. It has managed to convince and win over the
confidence of local and international and prestigious institutional performers, as well as the national and
international media each year increasingly convinced of the pertinence and deep meaning of our action.
I can also cite the artists and musicians who have experimented with this Festival and who have become its
best ambassadors throughout the world. Indeed, they are steadily increasing in number.
More generally, the age of maturity for such an event is characterized by its ability to show its originality
by proposing an artistic and intellectual program exerting influence and having meaning. This is a Festival
the attractiveness of which strengthens from year to year with its variegated and faithful public consisting
of music lovers, free thinkers and cultural patriots.
Since last year you have created a new meeting place, namely the Forum. What position does it occupy
today within the Festival and what role does it play?
The Festival has never been and will never be just a venue for distraction and meeting place for the young,
for men and women organized around a popular music event. The Festival is a choice get-together with
the ability of federating all sensitivities in a true and genuine approach. It is held in an exceptional city,
Essaouira, a city where subtle links exist between freedom, music and solidarity. In changing Morocco we
need venues where ideas can be interchanged without waffle, places where our democratic ideal can shine
in all its brilliance. The Forum is an ideal venue for discussion, debate, questioning and formulation of
proposals. We want to turn it into a laboratory and reference compliant with the democratic requirements
of our country. The Gnaoua come from far away. They descend from former slaves and their recent history
with this Festival and the Yerma Gnaoua Association is the story of recognition of a minority suffering for
too long from marginalization.
This is the story of men well aware in spirit, who found out how to recover their dignity and position in
society. It is in the name of this quest that the CNDH accepted to support this Forum but also because the
topics under debate are open to all and have to do with concrete and realistic notions present in our daily
lives and pivotal for our future.
Thanks to this Festival the Gnaoua are recognized as genuine artists, at least in the eyes of the public. At
what juncture are the actions undertaken by Yerma Gnaoua with regard to the status of artist?
For 4 years we have worked with support from the Ministry of Culture in view of obtaining a professional
card for each Gnaoui Maalem. This professional card makes it possible for us to enroll them in the health
scheme for artists. This is because up till now the Gnaoua enjoyed no social protection.
The professional card also gives them the possibility to apply for travel visas abroad for concerts and
therefore to build a professional project around their art in Morocco and across the world.
In sixteen years of existence, what were the most emblematic and successful events of this Festival?
The magic of this Festival lies in its incredible ability to surprise you at each edition. One might think that
each year the themes put forth by the Gnaoua could become redundant or irrelevant, especially considering
that their music is based on trance and therefore repetitive rhythms and the repertory is the same. However,
the true magic of the Festival lies in the new appropriation of this music, in seeing it a bit more sublimated
each year, in rediscovering the maalems constantly improving themselves, surprising fusions, a public that
knows the lyrics by heart and the absolutely unique atmosphere.
One thing is clear, certain concerts will remain in the Festival annals. For example, Mustapha Baqbou with
guitarist Pat Metheny, Hamid El Kasri with keyboard artist Joe Zawinul, Hassan Boussou with saxophonist
Jack Schwartz Bart and voodoo singer Erol Josue. I also recall a great moment of music and communication
between the Issaoua and Qawalis of Pakistan. At the 13th edition the theme was dance which gave rise to
unforgettable fusions between the Gnaoua and a Georgian ballet, between the Gnaoua and Step Afrika, and
tap dancers from the USA. It would be difficult to mention all these moments because they are so numerous
and above all absolutely unprecedented.
Gnaoua music as it is played today is the reflection of ancestral know-how and lengthy initiation.
The great masters have transmitted their passion for music, rhythms and song capable of
healing souls. Some have physically left us but their contribution continues to nourish the
ensuing generations. For this reason the Festival is paying tribute to three imminent but sadly
departed Maalems :
- Abderrahmane Paco
- Mâalem Cherif Regragui
- Abdallah Guinea
The Gnaoua and World Music Festival has roots and a specific memory.
This sixteenth edition will also constitute an opportunity to prove so. A
musical evening paying tribute to Abderrahmane Paco is on the program
in recognition of the contribution of this artist who has left his mark on the
Moroccan stage. His own children will perform to sing about the man, the
artist and the father. They will be accompanied by top guitarist: Omar Sayed.
This is a moment promising strong emotions in homage to a voice capable
of healing souls. The guembri of the celebrated Paco was more than just
a musical instrument; it was the prolongation of his body. JimmyHendrix
called him, « doctor of the spirits». A mythical figure of Nass El Ghiwane,
Paco contributed to the dissemination of Gnaoua culture and throughout the 1970s to its promotion well
beyond national borders.His talent was revealed through the unforgettable Assinia winner of the gold record
in 1970. This child of Essaouira was exposed from early childhood to tagnaouite. Taught by great Maalems
such as Benthami he himself became a Maalemin 1964. It was by joining JilJilala and subsequently Nass
El Ghiwane that his voice developed. A charismatic individual, Abderrahman Kirouch,or so-called Paco,
galvanized the public with his dances. Those who attended hislila conserve the memory of a great master
of ceremonies. Paco scrupulously respected tradition but also dared introducing some of his own lyrics.
He was intuitive and popular without being populist. His middle voice was distinct from that of Boujmiî and
brought him much success and more than anything else the unconditional attachment of his public. What
Paco owed to Nass El Ghiwaneis what Nass El Ghiwane owe to à Paco: eighty songs, twenty-six albums
and five gold record awards.
Another tribute will be paid to Maalem Cherif Regragui. This tribute will
be accompanied by musical interpretations provided by maalems who knew
him. It is Maalems Seddik El Arch and Abdellah Akherraz who will play in his
honor at Zaouia Sidna Bilal. This tribute and celebration held in the city of
birth of the Gnaoua encompass a strong symbolic reference. Several artists
will go on stage to return to him a bit of his love for tagnaouite. The artists
invite the public at large to come to listen and reflect. A musical evening
among friends will be devoted to the great man who became Maalem at the
age of eighteen. A multi-faceted artist who also did some theater with Tayeb
Seddiki. The disciple of great masters, Ahmed, Boubker and Hajjoub, was
never far away from his crotals. Essaouira is still swaying to his great melodies and wonton rhythms.
There are so many ways to approach music. Some individuals have devoted
their whole lives to the image of Maalem Abdellah Guinea. Descendant
of a brilliant lineage of Maalems, Abdellah was brought up in the midst of
tagnaouite. At the age of 12 he accompanied his father in evening ceremonies
where he was able to demonstrate his prodigious gifts fine tuned through
contact with other masters. At the age of sixteen he was consecrated
Maalem. He discovered reggae, loved it and created a band formulating its
repertory on the songs of Nass El Ghiwane and Lemchaheb.
Tribute will be paid to this great master by Maalem Mokhtar Guinea and
Maalem Boulhimas at Zaouia Sidna Bilal.
21,22 and 23 June 2013
Societies in movement, Youth across the world
If over the past few years the Mediterranean socio-political space has drawn the attention of the world
this is largely due to the uprising of youth, on both sides of the pond engaged in social and political
protest. To the South, the main point was to do away with stubborn political stagnation and try to redraft
the social contract. To the North, the protest was the expression of the deep-seated unease of the young
who no longer accepted having its future compromised by bankrupt public policies in face of the effects
brought on by chronic crisis. But,whatever the heterogeneity of the situation of the young to the North or
South, one has to admit that approaching adulthood with all what that implies with regard to social and
professional autonomy, has everywhere become perilous and the incubator of huge social risks.
To the South of the Mediterranean, the explosion of youth onto the political scene is firstly the result of
a demographic transition marking across the entire region the beginnings of a socio-historical moment
characterized by the fall in the fertility rate and unstoppable rise of cohorts of young people (70% of
the population is under the age of thirty) before the beginnings of the ageing process of the population
toward 2030. Far from being limited to the drop in the birth rate, the effects of the demographic transition
are causing a deep-seated socio-cultural change due to the weakening of the patriarchal society, the
transformation of intergenerational and gender relationships and emergence of the individual. Elsewhere
the demographic transition went hand in hand, especially to the South of the Mediterranean with other
transitions of equal importance, i.e. education in connection with rapid mass schoolingand ever-growing
urbanization.From the conjunction of these three social changes was born the new and indispensable
socio-political actor represented from now on by educated and urbanized youth sustainably rooted in
In just one generation,the strong aspirations engendered in this transitional context collapsed under
the effect of the material and symbolic frustrations suffered first and foremost by the young (inadequate
training, unemployment, feeling of ill at ease, precariousness and the difficulties in achieving socioeconomic autonomy). At the turn of the century, everywhere to the South of the Mediterranean, the
situation has given rise to deep generational tensions propitious to the blossoming of a civil society
unresponsive to old forms of authority.
In societies to the North of the Mediterranean, one observes a gripping paradox marked by « youthism
» turned into an absolute standard governing all areas of social life (economy, art, culture, etc.) and
by an increasing social declassification of wide swathes of the youthful population. Victims of multiple
socio-economic changes caused by the policies applied to the management of the crisis, the young find
it difficult to exist socially and in the acquisition of autonomy in societies geared to celebration of the
For Euro-Mediterranean youth emanating from immigration, the phenomenon of social declassification is
compounded insofar as the factors of exclusion (deficiencies in terms of education and training, housing,
parental income, etc.) have become greater owing to the painful experience of discrimination. This has
led to the current situation of young people who, like all other youths, want to gain access to conditions of
autonomy, the key to passage to adulthood (education, training, socio-professional integration), to shout
its ire against discrimination and claims its right to recognition via the construction of dissident identities
(overemphasis on cultural and religious aspects).
For a long time, the attention paid by the public authorities to the « young » hovered between, sectoral
policies (socio-professional, sports and recreational focus) of which education, as is required by mass
instruction, absorbed the key share of budgetary resources; and preventive or security- oriented approach
treating young generations as a problem rather than a resource or pool of wealth. The pivotal role played
by young people to the South of the Mediterranean in the « Arab Spring » uprisings, as well as the wave
of protests of the « outrage » in Northern countries placed the young at the heart of the strategic stakes
in most countries around the Mediterranean. Henceforth these stakes are to be understood in terms of
the development of a high quality educational system, economic integration, political participation and
the promotion of a democratic society open and respectful of human rights.
The Essaouira Forum which will see the participation of sociologists, historians, political analysts and
economists as well as economic and socio-political actors, will attempt to open a pluralistic debate
capable of tackling the major issues dealing with Mediterranean youth, societies, States, researchers
and media. It will have the dual aim of questioning the methods of construction of public policies with
regard to the young and the formulation of a multidisciplinary approach, and the outlook for coherent and
democratic political actions geared to tackling the stakes for the future.
Mohamed Sghir Janjar
FUSIONS AT THE HEART OF THE FESTIVAL
JAZZY CLOSING CONCERT
SOLO ARTISTS ON THE MAJOR STAGES
OPENING PARADE AND OFF FESTIVAL EVENTS
A MUSICAL CELEBRATION
THE DISCUSSION TREE
The great free-of-charge public events will be held at Place Moulay Hassan and Meditel Stage
The Festival will also use the terrace of Borj of Bab Marrakech for open air concerts. Dar
Souiri and Zaouia Sidna Bilal will be the home of lilas and intimate concerts.
ZAOUIA SIDNA BILAL
A freed slave, the companion of the Prophet and Islam’s first muezzin,
Sidna Bilal is the spiritual ancestor of all Gnaoua. The Zaouia bearing his
name is housed in an 18th century house typical of Essaouira. During the
Festival it will be the home of two concerts in tribute to masters deceased
BORJ BAB MARRAKECH
MOULAY HASSAN SQUARE
It is on this spacious esplanade in the Moroccan Portuguese style set
against the medina ramparts that everything began. Moulay Hassan
Square is the home of the Festival’s mythical stage. Since 1998 it has been
the event of unforgettable fusions between the Gnaoua Maalems and the
greatest names of the jazz and world music stage.
After having occupied the Essaouira beach for a long while, this year the
Meditel is moving to Province Square. Facing the ocean, this large square
will see performances by national and international artists of recognized
talent. The Meditel stage will offer its share of freshness to the Festival by
presenting young musicians in the form of fusions centered on Gnaoui and
current music trends.
A Festival stage since 2012, Borj Bab Marrakech or the Bastion will be
once again visited by Festival goers.Built into the ramparts this massive
tower constructed in the 19th century is a historical monument and former
ammunitions warehouse. Today, its terrace serves as a scene for paying
entry open air fusion concerts under the stars.
BAB EL MARSA
Located at the port entrance, one of the most emblematic places of the
city of’Essaouira, Bab El Marsa opens onto the medina walls and is one of
the city’s accesses to the ocean.This year Bab El Marsa will be the home
of paying entry original concerts given by Gnaoui Maalems and traditional
OULAD MOGADOR - BAB DOUKKALA STAGE
This riad built in 1907 inside the ramparts during the Protectorate was
the home Provincial Authority administration. Today it is the headquarters
of the Essaouira-MogadorAssociation entirely dedicated to culture. During
the Festival it accommodates paying entry concerts.
The young talents of Essaouira have not been left in the lurch. The « Ouled
Mogador stage» is exclusively dedicated thereto. It was set up by the city’s
Youth Association with support by the Municipality of Essaouira and offers
free concerts on Friday and Saturday at the end of the day. Median in size,
this stage is set up in front of Bab Doukkala, the northern entrance to the
Essaouira medina at the Mechouar, the Place de l’Horloge, and Bab Sbaa.
AT THE HEART OF THE
FESTIVAL : FUSIONS
Maalem Mahmoud Guinea and Omar Sosa
The fusion between the Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa and Maalem Mahmoud Guinea is of a
sacred dimension. The encounter between Afro-Cuban rhythms and Gnaoua music played by these two
great musicians constitutes a musical moment of choice. The show has much promise of carrying us to
the heights. Omar Sosa together with Guinea is tantamount to Africa singing about her own virtues.
The Gnaoua and World Music Festival is not just any musical event. It is a place of coming together and
interchange. For years the organizers have been working toward the opening up of musical repertories.
Each time the result turns out to be surprising and astonishing. Fusions are not only stylistic exercises
because the artists do show their virtuosity but above all prove that music has no frontiers. With each
event original forms of concert are achieved.
This year the fusion program is as follows:
- Maalem Saïd Kouyou, Annadi Al Bahri and Houwara
- Maalem Mahmoud Guinea and Omar Sosa
- Maalem Abdelkader Amlil and Rachid Zeroual
- Maalem Abdelkebir Merchane and Eska
- Maalem Aziz Baqbou and Majda El Yahyaoui
Maalem Saïd Kouyou, Annadi Al Bahri and Houwara
An exceptional trio will open the Festival. Maalem Saïd Koyou is extending his musical horizon well
beyond his usual repertory and will fuse his music with that of Emirati Company «Annadi Al Bahri
lilfounoune Achaabiya wa assiayaha» and the frenzied rhythms of Houwara. Polyrhythm is what will
mark this intercontinental encounter. For its sixteenth birthday the Festival is open to everything.
Maalem Abdelkader Amlil and Rachid Zeroual Quintet
Rachid Zeroual has become the master of fusion. He can boast performances that have won him a wide
gamut of audiences. This flautist has created fusions with celebrities such as Archi Sheep, and Jean
Michel Jarre. Today he has begun to play the Gnaoui repertory and will be performing with the great
Maalem Abdelkebir Merchane and Eska
After an exceptional get-together in conjunction with the previous edition between master Merchane and
New York band Querencia, this year it is Eska who will make hearts beat with the crotals of the Maalem
and sound of his music harking from the depths of Zimbabwe from whence she comes. Old and new music
will spread through Essaouira to the delight of all. Fusion strengthens once again the position of current
musical trends in Gnaoui territory. An original event indeed, but we are not going reveal everything just
From the very outset the Gnaoua and World Music Festival helps the creation of concerts that also
constitute genuine spectacles by the provision of indispensable and unifying facilities in the form of artistic
residences. In this way it provides artists with places for rehearsal, work and creation. Apart from the
time set aside for creation, a residence enables the musicians to meet their established publics or to look
out for new ones. This space of commingling explores the various fields of current vocal and instrumental
music. Originally, it was a tradition and now has become one of the most highly awaited events of the
Festival. Once again, this year this artistic choice comes in confirmation thereof. This accompaniment has
become one of the Festival’s marks.
Residence Maalem Mustapha Baqbou and Will Calhoun
Maalem Aziz Baqbou and Majda Yahyaoui
The voice of Majda Yahyaoui will experience no difficulty in following the Gnaoua rhythms. Indeed,
the singer will be accompanied and guided by the generosity of movement and exceptional fingering
of Maalem Aziz Baqbou. Two worlds come together for mutual enrichment. On this occasion Majda El
Yahyaoui will be accompanied by a small group of Issaoua.
Why on earth didn’t we think of it before! It seems as if it were an established fact that the crotals of
Mustapha Baqbou would respond to the drums of Will Calhoun. Two musical worlds come together
and mutually resonate. For this musician from the Bronx, mixing his rhythms with those of tagnaouite
constitutes an opportunity to create a new listening space. This duo will most certainly prove sensational!
Every year several bands from Morocco and elsewhere enrich the program of the Gnaoua
and World Music Festival. These bands perform solo on the large stages of the Festival in
their usual form. In addition to the fusions, the guest artists will show off their musical
talents at set times exclusively dedicated to them.
Maalem Omar Hayat
Hamid El Kasri
& Tyour Gnaoua
with Special Guest
AND OFF FESTIVAL EVENTS
Dar Souiri, Borj Bab Marrakech and the new Bab el Marsa stage will be the home of acoustic concerts
where the Maalems will perform their traditional repertory. This is the not-to-be-missed meeting place
of tagnouite buffs and anyone else seeking to discover the ancestral ritual of Gnaouas. This year eight of
the most famous masters joined by the Issaoua, Taifa of Safi and the Hassani Baaiya band will perform at
the lilas at the end of the evening in a totally intimate atmosphere.
Ever faithful to its traditions, like every other year the Gnaoua and World Music Festivalbegins with the
opening procession. This event marks launching of the festivities. It constitutes a very special moment for
the Gnaoua. This ritual, « Al Aâda » for insiders, strives to be not only a benediction but also a prayer for
Gnaoua great masters either deceased or ill who have handed down their precious know-how.
Maalems coming from all over Morocco celebrate this instant in the company of a few family members.
Point of departure: Bab Doukkala, Thursday at 05:00 pm.
Maalem Moustakim Abderrazak
Maalem Rachid Hamzaoui
Maalem Abdellatif El Makhzoumi
Issaoua of Essaouira
Maalem Abdenbi El Gadari
Maalem Ahmed Baâlil
Taifa of Safi
Maalem Fathallah Chaouki
Maalem Abdellah El Gord
Maalem Allal Soudani
Off Festival Events
The fraternities of Hmadcha and Issaoua, as well as the Gangas of Agadir and Houwara will also participate
in the celebration.Every day at the end of the afternoon they will invite festival goers to the beach. They
will be joined by Karakiz, the Giant Puppets of Eclat de Lune.
Essaouira in the circuit
Some good news for music lovers. Once again this year, the Gnaoua Festival wonderfully coincides with
the Music Celebration.Held in more than 116 countries the music celebration could not occur without
Essaouira. The city will be part of the show and this year will enter into the circuit. Initiated in France in
1982, the Music Celebration has seen remarkable international development.It began being exported in
1985 in conjunction with the European Year of Music.In less than fifteen years it is held on five continents.
Via this joint event the public and private authorities bear witness to their determination to foster better
knowledge of the artistic realities in their countries and desire to the development of intercultural
relations. Called upon by the French Association for the development of creation, studies and projects
(ADCEP), the producers of the Gnaoua and World Music Festivalaccepted to join together for the second
consecutive year in celebration of the fête de la musique(music celebration) in the world.
THE DISCUSSION TREE
Free entry within the limit of empty space
The discussion Tree is one of the not-to-be missed events of the Gnaoua Festival. Created in 2006 this
Forum for dialogue and interchange is held every afternoon at 05 :00 pm at the headquarters of the
Franco-Moroccan Alliance rue Lalouj. Around coffee or tea the Gnaoua artists and world music guests
freely discuss matters in a friendly atmosphere. In turn, the public asks questions and partakes in the
debate in a spirit of true fraternity. The Forum has been hosted for two years by the Emmanuelle Honorin
and Maria Moukrim tandem. Emmanuelle Honorin, music critic and journalist who is behind this singular
initiative will moderate the round tables of the discussion Tree. She is also the programmer for multicultural stages such as « Contradanza » and « Creole Ball at Belleville” in Paris. Her latest book « Piazolla,
the tango of immoderation » was published by Demi-lune in 2011.
At her side will be Moroccan journalist Maria Moukrim. Maria is a native of Essaouira and journalist
known for her commitment and major investigations. She is a founding member of the Network of Women
Journalists and President of the Moroccan Association of investigative journalism. Former editor in chief
of the weekly Al Ayam, in 2011 Maria Moukrim launched her own electronic newspaper called "febrayer.
Annadi Al Bahri (United Arab Emirates)
Be attentive, new discovery ahoy! Little known outside the Arabian peninsula the
traditional percussions of the Bedouin and Arab Emirates develop astonishing rhythmic
subtleties. The songs and dances are indicative of tribal belonging and several variants
have developed within the very heart of an array of rhythmic structures.By mixing Arab
and Berber traditions, an original culture has seen the light of day in the Emirates.
Unexplainably, in our times of globalization, it has been virtually ignored by lovers of
exoticism and travel. In spite of this it does really exist and all true born Emiratis know
about « Al Ayaala » dance of the cane and courage that the Bedouins chanted before
attacking another tribe. Still widely practiced and highly present in modern daily life,
traditional music is set to the pace of life’s major events in the Emirati community (no
celebration occurs without its own ancestral music being performed alongside DJs at
Richard Bona (Cameroon)
B.o.n.a: four letters that click like the cords on his bass. First known as virtuoso of the
bass, since 1999 he has been involved in a solo career which allowed him to develop his
talents as a singer and composer.
Born in 1967 at Minta in Cameroon, Richard Bona comes from a family of musicians.
At the tender age of 4 he began playing the balafon. At 5 he started making his own
instruments with whatever fell into his hands (flute, guitar with bicycle brake cables
for cords). This gifted young fellow was often called upon to perform at events and
celebrations. At 11 years of age he began specializing and concentrated on the guitar.
However, in 1980 he discovered jazz and a legend of music, the immense bass player
Jaco Pastorius: henceforth the path to follow was set before him.To devise a list of the
artists with whom he has collaborated one would have to write a score on the music
of the 20th and 21st centuries to the likes of Manu Di Bango, Jacques Higelin, Harry
Bellafonte, Didier Lockwood, Larry Corryel, Joe Zawinul, and Bobby Mc Ferrin To date
he has accompanied all of them. An inspired artist, Richard Bona counts among the
essential musicians of Jazz and present-day African music.
Will Calhoun (USA)
He was one of the mainstays of Living Coulours. He has played with B.B. King, Mick Jagger,
Jaco Pastorious, Harry Belafonte, Pharoah Sanders, Jack Dejohnette, Paul Simon, Lou
Reed, The Allman Brothers, Lauryn Hill, Marcus Miller, Dr. John, Carly Simon, Wayne
Shorter, Lauryn Hill, Run-DMC, and Public Enemy… but more than anything else this child
of the Bronx is a regular participant in the Essaouira Festival. In 2012, when he came
to play in the Oumou Sangaré band, this virtuoso drummer stated with a big smile « I
think it’s the 5th or 6th time I’ve come here but always to accompany musician friends. I
dream of coming to this Festival to perform my personal work ». His dreams have become
reality. An eclectic musician, Will Calhoun has approached several artistic spheres (as
instrumentalist or producer, in particular with rapper Mos Def). His latest solo album
called « Life in this world » (coming out 14 May 2013) is a spiritual voyage through a variety
of musical worlds explored by Will with a clear-cut tribute to his African roots.
Eska (Zimbabwe/United Kingdom)
Between Eska and the Gnaoua Festival it was love at first sight, a reciprocal and immediate
love story. Invited last year by hip/hop jazz saxophonist Soweto Kinch, she staggered
everyone (public and artists) by her presence and power of her performance. Maalem
Hamid El Kasri himself, although used to fusions, was declaring everywhere that this
musical encounter was one of the strongest he had ever experienced on this stage. Born
in Zimbabwe but raised in the melting pot of southeast London, Eska naturally mixes
influences and styles. Whether singing alongside British jazz musicians or rappers
in fashion (Ty, Soweto Kinch..), from the Soul singer (Julie Dexter), the drummer and
founder of afro-beat Tony Allen, the Indian electro guitarist Nithin Swahney…her fellow
companions are many in number, eclectic and always outstanding. Eska is a talent now
firmly ensconced within the new generation of British soul and jazz singers.
Mokoomba (Zimbabwe/Southern Africa)
Situated between tribal song and urban music the Mokoombadegage band displays joyous
and communicative energy. Hailing from the region of Victoria Falls (on the river Zambeze,
considered to be the world’s most spectacular waterfalls) better known for natural beauty
than for its inhabitants, the six musicians of this band in their majority originate from the
Tonga ethic group; a minority people of Zimbabwe with a strong rural musical tradition
focused on song. Although the basis of the music is traditional, Mokoomba is also the
reflection of the cultural mix of the Southern part of Africa and its commingled population.
One of the leaders of the band, Mathias Muzaza has Angolan and Zimbabwean parents and
he grew up in South Africa.
Formed in 2001, the band became known in conjunction with the Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)
Festival in 2007. In 2009 he won a prize that sponsored their first European tour.
Since that time he returns regularly to international stages, notably the Colors Festival of
Ostrava (Czech Republic), the Couleur Café Festival in Brussels (Belgium), the Meyouzik
Festival (Luxembourg), the Pirineos Festival (Spain), the Afrika Festival in Hertme (The
Netherlands), and the San Marino Festival (Italy).
Maceo Parker (United States of America)
Born in 1943 in North Carolina to a family of musicians, Maceo Parker very early on set
out his career in music. Already at the age of 8 he played the saxophone with brothers
Melvin and Kellis on percussion instruments and the trombone and created the Blue
Notes Junior band. A few years later the characteristic Maceo sound was born. The young
15-years old musician already had his distinctive style on the saxophone. He finetoned
this talent by playing with the JB orchestra under the leadership of « godfather » James
Brown. As of 1976, Maceo left James to work with other emblematic personalities of funk
music such as Bootsy Collins, Georges Clinton, Fred Wesley in addition to The JB's. With
this prestigious background, Maceo Parker decided to go solo. In 1990 he devoted his
time to his own projects and came out with 2 solo albums, both immediate hits. Maceo’s
albums continued to be published at the pace of his own creativity. His recording, School's
In published in 2005 turned out to be a true lesson in funk music in 10 parts. Afterwards
a new opportunity arose in his artistic career: another dream came true for Maceo by his
working with a big band on a tribute to Ray Charles. In 2007, the WDR Big Band and Maceo
performed in a series of exceptional concerts in 2 parts. A live dual album recording
came out of this unique experience, «Roots and Groove", as well as a DVD bearing the
same name. With 20 exceptional years in a solo career and more than 200 engagements
annually, today Maceo Parker is deemed to be the architect of Groove and the most
prominent saxophone player in the history of music.
"with Special Guest Mehdi Nassouli"
Née à Warri au Nigéria en 1981, arrivée en Allemagne pour y suivre des études
d’anthropologie, Nneka est un des grands noms de la scène Afro européenne. De son
timbre chaud, elle a tranquillement imposé son style à la scène Neo soul/ Hip hop. Dès
son premier album « Victim of truth » en 2005 (qui sort en Allemagne, en Angleterre, en
France, aux Pays-Bas, au Nigeria et au Japon), N’Neka suscite l’intérêt de la presse et du
public. Elle enchaîne les plus grands festivals et les premières parties d’artistes phares :
Lenny Kravitz, Sean Paul, Patrice…
Depuis elle collectionne les nominations aux divers awards qui, tous, reconnaissent en
elle une artiste majeure de sa génération. N’neka, elle, semble regarder tout ceci avec
une certaine distance se partageant entre Hambourg et le Nigeria, deux lieux loin de la
frime, comme pour garder les pieds sur terre. Et restant attentive aux battements de son
coeur (« Heartbeat » l’un de ses tubes).
Omar Sosa (Cuba)
Puisant son inspiration dans la musique traditionnelle cubaine, dans le jazz contemporain,
le hip hop ou encore la musique arabe Omar Sosa est un pianiste relié à l’indicible. Ses
attaches à la Santéria et au culte Yoruba sont clairement revendiquées, mais ce virtuose
ne joue pas les donneurs de leçons et se place dans une posture résolument humaniste.
« L’important c’est ce qu’on laisse derrière nous » martelait-il lors du festival Gnaoua et
musiques du monde d’Essaouira, où il est venu en 2004 en compagnie du percussionniste
virtuose Anga Diaz (décédé depuis)
Omar Sosa voit le jour à Camagüey (la ville la plus importante du centre de l’île de Cuba)
en 1965 et s’initie très jeune à la musique en suivant des cours de percussions et de
marimba au conservatoire de la ville. Puis, adolescent, il intègre la classe de piano de la
très prestigieuse Ecole Nationale de Musique de La Havane, suivit d’une scolarité brillante
à l’Institut Supérieur des Arts.
En 1993, il émigre en Equateur et se plonge dans les traditions de la côte nord -ouest, où
les racines africaines sont omniprésentes. En 1995, il s’installe à Los Angeles où il devient
vite l’un des moteurs de la scène latin jazz.
Depuis, Omar Sosa joue environ une centaine de concerts par an, sur tous les continents.
Et en 2003, il a reçu un prix du "Smithsonian Associates” de Washington, pour sa «
contribution au développement du latin jazz aux Etats Unis ». Mais le festival Gnaoua et
Musiques du monde d’Essaouira tient une place à part dans le cœur de ce pianiste connu
et reconnu « Ici, s’exclamait-il en 2004, l’inspiration, tout le monde te sourit… c’est ce que
la vie est sensée être ! »
Karim Ziad Project (Algérie/France/Maroc)
Karim Ziad n’est pas de ces batteurs exhibitionnistes, qui vous étourdissent de leur
virtuosité et de grands effets. Ce n’est pas non plus un grand bavard.
Originaire d’Alger, il se révèle très vite comme un batteur hors norme, celui que tout le
monde s’arrache, des groupes rock algérois aux Chebs du Raï. Boulimique de musiques, le
jeune Karim absorbe tout, des nouvelles tendances aux musiques traditionnelles du bled
en passant par les BO de films égyptiens. Très vite, sa réputation grandit et Karim arrive
à Paris où il accompagne les grands de la musique maghrébine (Cheb Mami, l’Orchestre
National de Barbès, Safy Boutella…) mais aussi de la scène jazz où il noue des amitiés
solides: N’Guyen Lê, Michel Alibo, Boyan Z, Julien Loureau... Son complice N’Guyen Lê
l’entraine dans l’aventure de son « Maghreb All Stars ». C’est le déclencheur. A l’approche
plus intellectuelle de N’Guyen, il va substituer une dimension sensuelle et émotionnelle
« ce sont les musiques avec lesquelles j’ai grandi ».
Pendant plus de 10 ans, Karim Ziad va patiemment creuser les possibilités de rencontres
entre la liberté du jazz et ces musiques populaires traditionnelles qui le passionnent.
Avec respect et enthousiasme, avec une réelle vision musicale et éthique.
En toute discrétion, il va encore innover en nous présentant son nouveau projet : du pur
jazz, « quelque chose de personnel où je me mets plus à nu, sans me cacher derrière
les musiques traditionnelles ». En quoi est-ce novateur ? Parce qu’à force de défendre
la musique gnaoua, nous ne nous étions pas rendu compte que le Festival Gnaoua et
Musiques du Monde est devenu un rendez-vous international du jazz en terre africaine.
Mais lui, il l’a senti.
Pour ce concert, les gnaouas ne seront pas oubliés « impossible ! » sourit Karim. Ils seront
invités pour une fusion de danse ! Karim Ziad est décidément un musicien visionnaire
qu’on a plaisir à suivre dans ses intuitions fulgurantes.
Specialized in Amazigh song, the Amayno band is composed of young people passionate
about music. All can boast of an academic background. They play both traditional and
modern instruments.The Amayno band takes inspiration in the ancestral musical heritage.
By singing the band members attempt to give a new impulse to Amazigh song with the aim
of internationalization and modernization while steadfastly maintaining its originality. The
first album signed by Amayno dates from July 1991. Since that time the band has become
known to a wide-ranging public and takes part in numerous national festivals including
Timitar, Tifaouine, and the Amazigh culture Festivalin Fez, and the CasablancaFestival.
Today the Amayno discography includes eight albums the most recent one dating from
February 2012. With years of musical experience, participation in severalFestivals and
albums dealing with a variety of topics, the Amayno band is currently in full-fledged
maturity deserving of a well merited consecration.
Majda El Yahyaoui
Majda El Yahyaoui is a Malhoun singer taught by great masters of the genre such as Houcine
Toulali, Mohamed El Ouadi and Mohamed El Khyati. She comes from Had-Kourt, a locality
in the region of Kenitra. Majda El Yahyaoui is the presenter of “Chada Al Alhane”, a monthly
broadcast scheduled for Saturday evening on 2M. This singer benefits from a very good
reputation for having broken with the centuries’ old Malhoun tradition usually reserved to
males. Trained at the Meknes conservatory by one the great masters of this music genre,
Houcine Toulali, she is now on the way to becoming a talent recognized in Morocco where
she is the winner of many awards.
Unclassifiable, stealthy, creative and resolutely punk, the five rabid Haoussa musicians
have burst out in the North African musical landscape.Qualified by the independent press
as a « bomb » or « stage agitators » this band is the embodiment of the new breath of
air injected into the current Moroccan music scene. Committed and radical. Haoussa
navigates between the disrespectful tradition of the popular language and rock music
to devastating effect.Of Issawa inspiration (fraternity of mystical musicians) these
forerunners of Moroccan punk speak of problems common to the street and a society torn
between folly and chaos. It is urban poetry that takes on its full significance on the stage
when the musicians brought in by iconoclastic singer Khalid Moukdar, perform as truly
exceptional showmen. Switching back and forth with ease from ska hardcore to folklore
songs while toying with reggae, hip-hopor funk, Haoussa symbolizes a rough synthesis of
the current musical trends in Morocco over a stretch of ten years.
Issaoua of Fez
Via their music, the Issaoua fraternities evoke God. This is how every year they celebrate
the birth of the Prophet amidst chanting and dance. Founded in the 16thth century in
Meknes by Sidi Al Hadi Ben Aïssa, the Issaoua fraternity is famous throughout the country
and world.Various cities in the Kingdom have their own Issaoua company.The Fez company
has already performed at the 2004, 2006 and 2008 editions of the Gnaoua and World Music
Festival. Thanks to the festive music of the Issaoua ritual, this fraternity has become
highly popular in Morocco and abroad. Apart from Essaouira, these musicians have played
at other Festivals in Fez, Rabat and Tangier, as well as in countries like France, Belgium
and Spain. The Issaoua ritual begins with the dikr, a term signifying a chanted form of
mystical poetry. The Issaoua « hadra » (ritual) is highly rhythmic with roots very close to
Andalusian music.When the ritual begins, the rhythm is slow leaving room for the voice
At the last verse, the impetuous bang by the bendir occurs slowing down the tempo to better
indicate it, announcing the musical entry of the drums and other bendirs. Afterwards
come the ghetas which start the actual hadra.Sometimes, the Issaoua add to their ritual a
last part called the « hadra Gnaoua during which the mlouk (genies) are called upon giving
rise to dances of possession, akin to those of the Turkish whirling dervishes.
Baaiya is one of the best voices in the sacred repertory of the Moroccan Sahara : this
talented singer descends from a family that inherited the madh from father to son,
according to an uninterrupted chain over the centuries. Baaiya came naturally to music
which was an integral part of his family and immediate surroundings. He continued to
learn and repeat the long rhymed poems of definite semantic density, aided by a hushed
yet lively voice often tainted with tragedy.
Paco Ghiwane was founded by the late Abderrahmane Paco, an emblematic figure of
Nass El Ghiwane. For 10 years now the band bears its name well by performing on the
stage many compositions of Nass El Ghiwane, in addition to new songs. Following the
direct lineage of Gnaoui art, this band has managed to create a reputation of musicians
prolonging this ancestral musical tradition and the acquisition an African dimension.
However, the music of the sons of Paco is resolutely directed toward the future via new
musical experiments attempting to link traditional and contemporary music. For those
not familiar with him «Paco Ghiwane» consists of Youness Paco, sculptor and painter
in Essaouira, Yassine, sculptor known for the instrument he makes himself, as well as
Rachid Messoudi of Oujda, a music teacher.
The flagship band on the current North African scene marking the turn of the century
via chaabi-groove, Mazagan is an explosive mix of tribal music and urban sound. It is a
fusion joining together the youth of the region and Moroccan folk music. A « stage band
» par excellence for many years Mazagan has bowled over the biggest stages of Africa,
Europe and North America thereby solidifying its growing world notoriety. Mazagan is a
rock band seeking to modernize Moroccan popular music (Chaabi). Created in 1998 it
has become one of the international music scenes thanks to its many performances in
Morocco, Africa, Europe and Canada. Contributing thereto is its duos with artists such as
Ganga vibes, Outlandish, Hamid El Kasri, RedOne and Khaled.
Born in Casablanca in 1978, Oum El Ghaït Benessahraoui has been able to impose
her sensual and refined voice and her Saharan origin to complete the idyllic picture.
Musical sobriety, a clear and moving voice combine to make her a success. Although jazz
permeates her new album as a whole (« Soul of Morocco ») this singer still manages to
issue an interpretation packed with audacity, surely proof of a maturity patiently acquired.
Her voice is deep and her songs which she composes and writes the lyrics for, mirror her
fantastic cultural heritage given that she weaves wonderful patterns between soul, jazz,
Gnaoua rhythms and Hassani music.
Rachid Zeroual Quintet
Introduced to music by his father at a very early age, Rachid Zeroual developed an
immense passion for the ney (oriental flute), a magical instrument that was to accompany
him throughout his artistic career. Rachid Zeroual managed to build across the years a
musical background rich in a variety of forms making him a virtuoso musician sought
after and appreciated by performers and composers with reputations in North Africa and
the Arab world, in addition to well-known concert musicians. The instrumental work
of Rachid Zeroual entitled "Breath of the Soul" (2005) required five years of research
highlighting Morocco’s ancestral heritage in the form of Amazigh, African, Arab and
Andalusian sources emanating from world culture dating from times immemorial. Rachid
is familiar with Fusions with Archi Sheep, Jean Michel Jarre, and Mohammed Abdou…
Meanwhile Rachid Zeroual formed its "quintet" for performing his own music. Rachid is
also a member of the Royal Orchestra. Rachid Zeroual won the Zeryab Prize for virtuosos
in 2012 awarded by UNESCO.
Maalem Abdellah Akharraz (Essaouira)
A native of Essaouira, Maalem Akharraz was trained by Maalem Boubker (father of Maalem
Mahmoud Guinea). After playing with Maalem Paco, he completed musical training with
Tyour Gnaoua with whom he partook in several events across the 5 continents for nearly
15 years. In 2010 he created his own company.
Maalem Abdeslam Alikane & Tyour Gnaoua (Essaouira)
Maalem Abdeslam Alikane masterfully heads the Tyour Gnaoua band. He is one of the
instigators of the Gnaoua Festival of Essaouira, his home town.Alongside Karim Ziad, he
ensures the artistic direction by first searching for Gnaoua from all regions of Morocco.
In his work Abdeslam Alikane became noted for his particular mastery of therapeutic
practices.Today he is one of the messengers of Gnaoui art across the world.Maalem
Abdeslam has performed alongside many world artists and jazz musicians of renown
such as, among others, Jaleel Shaw in 2008 or the Congolese guitarist and pianist Ray
Lema in 2007.At the last edition Tyour Gnaoua offered the public a 100% jazz fusion with
famous guitarist Sylvain Luc.
Maalem Abdelkader Amlil (Rabat)
Born in Rabat, Abdelkader Amlil or Maalem Abdelkader is a singer, musician and master
of Gnaoui art.Considered as a virtuoso of the guembri he has performed alongside great
masters such as Oulad Abdenbi and H’mida Boussou. He has participated in several
national and international events including the «Winter Sounds» Festival in Paris. At
the helm of his own group, Maalem Abdelkader Amlil performs on the guembri with the
Majid Bekkas band in the Gnaoua blues style. Faithful to the Gnaoua and World Music
Festivalfor several years Abdelkader Amlil has performed in numerous acoustic, intimate
and traditional events in conjunction with lilas or in fusion in 2007 in a duo of Argentine
Maalem Ahmed Baalil (Marrakech)
The Baalil band hails from Marrakech. It is conducted by a Maalem who has worked for
years with great grand Maalem Sam consisting of members of his family.
Of late the Baalil band has conducted a tour abroad, in particular in Denmark, Switzerland
Maalem Aziz Baqbou (Marrakech)
Born in 1962, Maalem Aziz Bakbou is the brother of Maalems Mustapha and Ahmed
Bakbou and son of Maalem El Ayachi Bakbou who faithfully handed down to his three sons
Gnaoui art and heritage in the purest tradition.Maalem Aziz Bakbou has gone on many
tours abroad, in particular in The Netherlands and Saudi Arabia and regularly takes part in
festivals in Morocco such as theGnaoua and World Music or Chefchaouen Festivals.
Maalem Mustapha Baqbou (Marrakech)
Born in 1954 in Marrakech, Mustapha Baqbou grew up in a Gnaoui zaouia where his father,
Maalem El Ayachi Baqbou, introduced him at a very young age to tagnaouite art. Mustapha
Baqbou was a member of the famous Jil Jilala band and in that capacity partook in the
folk music movement in the 1970s. Known for his exceptional fusions with well known
international artists like Pat Metheny, Louis Bertignac, Eric Legnini and French jazz band
Sixun at the Gnaoua and World Music Festival, he has also performed on numerous stages
in America, China and Europe. His performance with American dance company Step Afrika,
at one of the most applauded concerts of the Gnaoua Festival of 2010, proved that the
constantly renewed talent of this great Maalem, in the promotion of Gnaoua art in its most
traditional dimension, and his ability to engender fusion with all musical genres. Proof
of this was the memorable fusion in 2011 with piano virtuoso Tigran Hamasyan and an
original concert with the Bob Maghrib group in 2012.
Maalem Saïd Boulhimas (Essaouira)
A native of the Essaouira Scala, Saïd Boulhimas is a young Gnaoua. At the age of 8 he was
engaged by the cabinet making workshop of Maalem Seddik Laarech to learn how to work
wood. Contact with musical instruments introduced him to the world of Gnaoua. He came
out of the workshop a cabinet maker and Gnaoui. Later on Maalem Abdellah Guinea took
him in and completed his apprenticeship. He was pointed out at the 2003 edition of the
Festival for his exceptional performance with the Jbara band and the Mouettes, and also
last year for his contribution to the creation of « Band of Gnawa ».
Maalem Hassan Boussou (Casablanca)
Son of late Maalem H’mida Boussou, Hassan Boussou was educated according to
the precepts of Gnaoui tradition. In En 1996 he created the Gnaoua Fusion band with
Belgian musicians. Recently set up in France he met the future members of the Sewarye
band with whom he decided to renew the experience of mixture and fusion. Traditional
repertory remains the main source of inspiration of Maalem Hassan Boussou along with
the contribution of Western sonorities. On a regular basis he performs with the musicians
of his late father Maalem H’mida Boussou. Maalem Hassan Boussou is living proof of the
renewal of Gnaoui art and its capacity to create fusion with other musical genres. In 2012,
Hassan and his band presented at the Festival the result of an original residence with
electro rock of Marseilles trio Nasser and the rap of Moroccan musician Komy.
Maalem Fathallah Chaouki (Rabat)
Introduced to Gnaoua art by his uncle El Khadir and father Boujemaa, this Maalem born
in Rabat began playing in his father’s company and in 1992 performed in Morocco and
France. Maalem Chaouki initially played with great Maalems such as Hamid El Kasri, Aziz
Baqbou, and Majid Bekkasbefore founding his very own, « Oulad Abdi ». Since that time
he has performed all around the world, for example in Lebanon, the Emirates, Thailand
Maalem Abdenbi El Gadari (Casablanca)
Maalem Abdenbi was born in Marrakech and currently resides in Casablanca. It was on
the advice of Maalem Boussou that Abdenbi continued to develop his art. Becoming a
Maalemin his own right, today he is surrounded by his band Sidi Mimoun, and performs
on a regular basis in Italy where he recorded an album. His style refers to his origins.
His music recalls the tagnaouite tradition of Casablanca and Marrakech. He finally left
for Europe to disseminate Gnaoua fever and is a regular participant in the Essaouira
Festival. MaalemAbdenbi has created fusions with great internationalartists like French
guitaristTiti Robin in 2006. In 2009 he generated surprise by playing alongside Moroccan
DJs Unes and Hak’x in an electro dominated repertory.
MaalemEl Gourd (Tangier)
Abdellah Boulkhair El Gourd was born in 1947 in the Kasbah of Tangier. Along with
electrical engineering studies he was introduced to Gnaoua philosophy. In 1967, Abdellah
Boulkhair worked as an electrician at the “Voice of America” radio station when he met
American pianist Randy Weston. In 1992 the two friends saw an old dream come true by
joining together on one recording the majority of former Maalems in activity in Morocco.
Randy Weston took his friend to America and Europe where El Gourd met other jazz
musicians like Archie Shepp and Akosh S. with whom he performed on several occasions.
Maalem Rachid El Hamzaoui (Casablanca)
Born in Casablanca in 1958 in the Derb Sultan district Maalem Rachid El Hamzaoui comes
from a Gnaoui family. He was introduced to tagnaouite at the age of seven. Thanks to great
Gnaoua Maalems such as Maalem H’mida Boussou. Maalem Rachid El Hamzaoui has taken
part in many traditional lilas throughout his career and participated in numerous national
events. He regularly performs at the Gnaoua and World Music Festival in conjunction with
acoustic concerts, in particular in 2007 and 2010.
Maalem Hamid El Kasri (Rabat)
Hamid El Kasri was born in Ksar El Kébir in 1961 in Northern Morocco. At the age of seven
he received training from Maalems Alouane and Abdelouahed Stitou, but his passion is
attributable to the husband of his grandmother, a former Sudanese slave. His talent
allowed him to put together the Gnaoua rhythms of Morocco’s North and South. He owes
his reputation to his voice which is both deep and intense. This voice has made him one
of the most greatly appreciated and sought after Maalems. A regular participant at the
Gnaoua and World Music Festival, in 2004 he instigated an event with the late Joe Zawinul,
the famous Austrian pianist with the performance of one of the most notable fusions of
theFestival. At the 2010 edition, Hamid El Kasri introduced « Yobadi », a fusion album and
result of close cooperation with Karim Ziad. At Essaouira in 2011 he charmed the public
at the Borj with an exceptional concert in collaboration with Hamayun Kahn and Shahin
Shahida. Last year he enflamed the Moulay Hassan stage by singing with the Soweto
Quinch Quintet and special guest artist Eska.
Maalem Abdellatif El Makhzoumi (Marrakech)
Maalem Omar Hayat (Essaouira)
Born in Marrakech in 1944, Abdellatif Makhzoumi, became from his very early age an
enthusiast for Gnaoua music when he heard Maalems Ahmed El Bassir, MohamedIssaoui
or Abou Jemaa Khalouk, and Abou Omar Menkar, etc. In 1956 he started to participate in
lilas by performing on crotals with Maalems Ahmed Boussou and ElHassan Ennejar. In
1960 he was recognized as Maalem. Since that time he has performed at many Festivals,
in Essaouira and Agadir, and also in France and Sweden. Maalem Abdellatif El Makhzoumi
has frequented the Gnaoua and World Music Festivalsince its inception.He performs there
on a regular basis in conjunction with acoustic concerts like in 2009 and 2005 and on a
large stage as in 2007 at Bab Doukkala.
Introduced to Gnaoua music by Mahmoud Guinea, Maalem Omar Hayat created his own
band in 1991. He forms part of the new generation of Maalems advocating tradition but
with a particular slant for performance art. Omar Hayat also has his very own style and
often has been influenced by various artistic trends, in particular, reggae. He is a singular
artist who has been able to obtain the loyalty of his public on the Gnaoua and World Music
Festival scene in Essaouira, as well as at other nationwide and international festivals.
Omar Hayat is also a master of fusion. He demonstrated this in 2003 with FrancoVietnamese guitarist Nguyen Lê, in 2008 with guitarist Mohamed Derouich and trumpet
player Ibrahim Maalouf and at his performance in 2009 alongside pianist Meddy Gerville
and the percussionists of the Lindigo band from Mauritius.
Maalem Mahmoud Guinea (Essaouira)
Né en 1951 à Essaouira, Mahmoud Guinea est incontestablement une des figures Born
in 1951 in Essaouira, Mahmoud Guinea is undoubtedly one of the emblematic figures
of Gnaoui music. His background is intimately linked to that of slaves as his paternal
grandfather, of Malian origin, was sold in the Sahara. His father, the great Maalem Boubker
Guinea transmitted this heritage to Mahmoud Guinea who began playing the guembri at
the age of 12, and participated in lilas at the age of 20. Apart from his flawless mastery of
the purest tagnaouite music Mahmoud Guinea also has been recognized as a master of
fusion with legendary musicians such as Carlos Santana, Adam Rudolph, Will Calhoun,
Issaka Sow, and Aly Keita, to mention only a few. He also participated in several festivals
in Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, Austria, Norway, Belgium and The Netherlands.
At the 13th edition of the Gnaoua Festival Maalem Mahmoud Guinea offered the public an
exceptional fusion with Mauritanian singer Daby Touré.
Maalem Mokhtar Guinea (Essaouira)
Maalem Mokhtar Guinea, brother of Mahmoudand son of great Maalem Boubker and
emblematic figure of Gnaoui music is one of the great Gnaoua musicians. His father
and mother handed down to him sensitivity to tagnaouite music which they received
from BaMassoud, Mokhtar’s maternal grandfather.Proud of his origins and aware of his
heritage, he created his own band just a few year ago and performs all over the world.
Maalem Kbiber (Marrakech)
Born in 1946, Abdelkebir Benseloum sang with the B’net Houwariyat band in Marrakech,
toured abroad (Holland, France, Italy, Germany and Spain) and took part in many Festivals
in Morocco, at Agadir, Rabat and Marrakech. His participation at the Gnaoua and World
Music Festivalis always an occasion for him to demonstrate his art whether at acoustic
concerts like in 2007 or in conjunction with memorable instances of fusion. Similar to his
performance at the 12th edition where jazz from Reunion, the percussionists of Brazil
and Morocco, in flawless harmony with the guembri and crotals, set on fire the crowds at
Moulay Hassan Square.
Maalem Mohamed Kouyou (Marrakech)
Born in 1957, Maalem Mohamed Kouyou was introduced to Gnaoui art thanks to his mother.
After her death it was Maalem Moulay Hassan who looked after his education. Gifted and
passionate he gained the title of Maalem in 1980 at Marrakech. He instituted his own band
and performs all around Morocco and elsewhere, in particular for one year in the United
States. Maalem Mohamed Kouyou was brilliant with his improvised performance in 2008
alongside the living legend of American jazzman Wayne Shorter. This was repeated in
2009 at the 12th edition of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival during the residence of
artists with New Orleans band Donald Harrison & Congo Nation. In 2012 he performed at
the Gnaoua Festival in fusion with young Moroccan artists and the Mayara Band. This year
he is embarking on a new adventure via fusion with a company of percussionists from the
Maalem Said Kouyou (Marrakech)
Maalem Allal Soudani (Essaouira)
Brother of Maalem Mohamed Kouyou, Said Kouyou accompanied at a very young age his
mother at lilas and moussems such as Moulay Brahim and Tamesloht. After obtaining the
title of Maalem, Said Kouyou performed on several stages in Morocco and abroad with
brother Mohamed’s band.
Allal Soudani descends from a long lineage of Gnaoua through his grandparents, Sudanese
slaves from Essaouira. In spite of the reticence of his father he was initiated into Gnaoui
art and became Maalem at the age of eighteen. Allal Soudani received the strict and
methodic instructions of his father leading him to frequent other schools such as those of
Boubker Guinea, Ahmed Al Haddad and Belkheir. His nostalgia for traditional tagnaouite
makes him a reference of his kind in Morocco and a regular visitor to the Gnaoua and
World Music Festival. Ever since the 3rd edition in 2000, he returns to his faithful public
at the Festival for lilas in the context of an acoustic concert where purity and tradition
constitute the signature guests.
Maalem Seddik Laarch (Essaouira)
Thanks to his impressive personality and mastery of tagnaouite, Seddik Laarch figures
among the most appreciated Gnaoua Maalems in the city of the trade winds. This Maalem
distinguished himself in 2001 and 2005 on the Essaouira Festival stage. Residing abroad
and passionate about Gnaoua art and the instruments used, Seddik Laarch is considered
to be one of the best representatives of renewal in Essaouira of this sacred music. After
several performances in Morocco and abroad, he recorded and published in France his
very first album in 2003. The public was able to hear Seddik Laarch at a lila at H’madcha
Zaouia in conjunction with the last edition of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival.
Maalem Abdelkebir Merchane (Marrakech)
Abdelkebir Merchane was born in 1951 in Marrakech. At the tender age of barely nine
years he was already cognizant of tagnaouite music. Of Arab origin he is the sole Gnaoui in
his family. It was only after many miscarriages (total of eleven) that his mother handed him
over to a black nanny. He was therefore able to partake at a very early age in performances
at lilas. His masters El Ayachi, Baqbou and Mohamed Sam introduced him to tagnaouite
in the purest tradition. His preferred styles are marsaoui (Essaouira) and marrakchi. He
has participated in several international festivals in Europe, Arab countries and Japan.
Today he conducts the Oulad Sidi H'mou band. A most loyal adherent to the Gnaoua and
World Music Festival, each year Maalem Merchane offers the public the full gamut of his
talents. Last year his guembri created fusion with the flute and rhythms of the New York
and Cuban band Querencia. This year it is with Eska from Zimbabwe that he will share the
Moulay Hassan stage.
OFF FESTIVAL EVENTS
Festival Gnaoua et des musiques du monde d’Essaouira
Eclats de Lune
Created in 2005, Eclats de Lune is the result of an encounter between French and Moroccan
artists. They worked together to associate their energy and competencies making it
possible to render this art accessible to a wide public. From the heritage and traditional
arts of Morocco they meet with the public in view of building a joint artistic imaginary
image. An ambulant and ever changing parade, taking inspiration from the trading
caravans that in the old days crossed the entire continent of Africa, this monumental
parade joins together showmanship machinery and musicians. The artistic production
is provided by Khalid Tamer and Sigfredo Riveira, the design by Virginie Chevalier and
musical creation by Zakariae Heddouchi.
Ganga of Agadir
The Ganga of Agadir company which has already taken part several times in the Gnaoua
and World Music Festival in Essaouira,is a folkloric band from the region of Agadir which
interprets the Gnaoua repertory in Berber style, using the large “Ganga” drums as
Hamdouch, has its adherents in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The hadra (ritual) of the
Hmadcha begins with the hizb or recitation of prayers. Then comes along the dikr made up
of religious chants. Group chanting predominates with accompaniment by harraz (pottery
drums). The second phase consists of three moments: a hot moment when a crescendo
is reached in the form of a trance. When the hadra subsides, a prayer is said and the cold
moment occurs played on a pipe (nira) when Aïcha Kendicha is solicited and the dancers
bang their heads. The last moment is sometimes goes hand in hand with a Gnaoua hadra
during which the mlouks are called upon.
Producer and organizer by
In partnership with
The Houwara company created by Lhmidi in 1994 is considered as one of the most famous
folkloric companies at the national level. The Howuara company has participated in
several festivals in Morocco and elsewhere.
Ofﬁcial media partners
Issaoua of Essaouira
The Issaoua fraternity is among the principal religious fraternities in Morocco.
Emanating from the Sufi tradition the Issaoua confraternity through its music addresses
Allah to ask for His assistance. Every year it celebrates the birth of the Prophet with song
and dance linked to an ancestral ritual. The Issaoua company from Essaouira has already
performed several times at the Gnaoua Festival.
Gnaoua and World Music Festival of Essaouira is a member of :
Press Contact : Agence A3 Communication
Manager of media pole and press relations
Karima Hachimi: [email protected]
Khadija Smiri: [email protected]
Phone: (+212) 5 22 27 26 03/04 - Fax: (+212) 5 22 22 52 87