Rabat – Each year, the beautiful city of Essaouira devotes its maze of streets, lovely beaches, and vibrant public squares to music for the annual Gnaoua World Music Festival.
This summer, from June 21-23 the beach town will celebrate the festival’s 21st anniversary.
“Since the birth of the festival, its unique character has given it a special place amongst cultural events, confirming to the world that Africa is more than ever a land of dialogue and creation,” states Neila Tazi, producer of the Gnaoua Festival.
The festival will be marked by the presence of award-winning “jam-band” Snarky Puppy, which will both open and close the event.
One duet, in particular, will celebrate the musical heritage of the African continent: young Gnaoua artist and guembriand player Asma Hamzaoui (Bnat Timbuktu) will draw from her Malian roots to pay tribute to the Tagnaouite tradition, in collaboration with Fatoumata Diawara, who sings despite the prohibition to practice music by Islamists in northern Mali, from where she comes.
Diawara refuses to sing in English or French in homage her African heritage, instead drawing inspiration from the tradition of Wassoulou singing.
“They have the courage and the bravery for niche but also the love of the inheritance in common,” Tazi said.
The Gnaoua Festival will also host the Project BIM Group (Benin International Musical), a collective of Beninese artists who will play some voodoo rhythms and traditional songs with electric modern grooves. The collective will share the stage with the Gnaoui master Maâlem Hassan Boussou.
Gnawa festival has become a point of pride for Essaouira’s inhabitants since its founding in 1998. Faithful to its African roots, the Gnaoua and World Music Festival of Essaouira reminds us that all music originates from the cradle of humanity.
The festival has always welcomed the greatest of the African scene such as Youssou N’Dour (Senegal), Amadou and Mariam (Mali), Bassekou Kouyaté (Mali), Toumani Diabaté (Mali), Doudou N’Diaye Rose (Senegal), Oumou Sangaré (Mali), Sibiri Samaké (Mali), and Baaba Maal (Senegal).
With music blaring throughout the streets of the city, the thousands of people who head to the three-day festival are expected to give a major boost to the city’s tourist economy, especially in the local restaurant sector.