The second largest festival in the world is bringing almost 20 Moroccan stars to its Sale stage this year.
Rabat’s Mawazine festival has announced that its Sale stage will this year see “the participation of the greatest names in Chaabi, Amazigh, Rai, Gnaoua and Fusion music.”
A signature event of Morocco’s cultural scene, Mawazine fuses global trends with Moroccan styles. In a press release, the event organizers noted the festival spares more than half of its programming time for Moroccan artists annually.
Opening with a bang
Opening the festival’s Sale stage on Friday, June 21, is chaabi singer and Sale native Zahira Rbatia. Rbatia began her musical career in 2002 and has since released 5 albums.
Following her performance, singer-songwriter and violinist Mustapha Bourgogne will take the stage. Bourgogne entered the Moroccan music scene in 1980 with the group Noujoum Bourgogne before deciding to go solo in 1990. 39 years after beginning his career, Bourgogne is still widely considered one of the darlings of Moroccan music.
The following night, Saturday, June 22, will see Rabeh Mariwari perform. Mariwari, who represents the Rif region with his Reggada sounds, made his name with the song Hadou Ahadou in 2000. Since then, the singer has released 8 albums and performed at numerous Moroccan festivals.
That same night, rising pop star Zouhair Bahaoui will perform. Bahaoui, born in Tetouan, gained fame with his 2016 single Tsala Liya Solde, which has garnered over 30 million views on YouTube. Bahaoui mixes traditional Moroccan styles with modern pop music.
Sunday, June 23, will see another two big names in Moroccan music light up the Sale stage. First up is singer and guitarist Jbara. The multitalented musician has released 14 albums since 1996, mixing Amazigh, Andalusian, Raï, Gnaoua, Blues, Reggae, Flamenco, Rock and Soul sounds all together for eclectic mix.
Next on stage is Laayoune native Saida Charaf, who came into the spotlight after her appearance on the television show Assahrato Lakoum. The singer mixes Amazigh music with traditional Moroccan music.
A week of Maghrebi sounds
The following night, Monday, June 24, Saida Titrit, another famed Amazigh artist, will take the scene. . Titrit began her career in 1991 with the aim of modernizing Amazigh music, and citing Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan as her influences.
After Titrit’s performance, Algerian artist Reda Taliani is up next. Taliani first garnered praise in 2004 for his hit song Josephine. The Algerian singer combines various styles from the Maghreb with powerful lyrics.
On Tuesday, June 24, singer and dancer Aicha Tachinwit will bring the Amazigh vibe back again. The Inzegane native is known for her unique performances. Next up that evening is young star YouNess, who was trained at the Meknes Music Conservatory. His latest single “I Love You” has more than 50 million views on YouTube.
On Wednesday, June 24, the Sale stage will see not just two stars take the stage, but three. First up is rapper 7ari. The Rabat native is part of a rising generation of Moroccan rappers, having released his first single “Ma3ndkom Madiro” in 2012.
After his performance, trap and pop artist Manal is up. The young singer won Best Female Artist of North Africa at the 2015 Afrim Awards, and her hit singles and music videos such as Slay and Pas le Choix has gone viral since.
The third and final performance for that night will come from rapper Lbenj. Since releasing his first album just two years ago in 2017, Lbenj has collaborated with other big artists such as Mr Crazy, Lferda and Ali Ssamid. His 2018 hit “Noir et Blanc” has attracted more than 2.5 million views on YouTube.
On Thursday, June 27, the Sale stage promises a treat for fans of Gnaoua music. First on stage is Ksar El Kebir native Maalem Hamid El Kasri. El Kasri is best known for his unique deep voice and his ability to merge the musical styles of north and south Morocco with ease. His performance will also see several surprise guests come on stage, according to Mawazine’s statement.
Offering a change of pace, rap trio Fnaire will perform next. The group began their career 18 years ago and consists of three Marrakech natives, Mohcine Tizaf, Khalifa Mennani and Achraf Aarab. Their most recent release, “Dilbar,” produced in collaboration with Canadian-Moroccan singer Nora Fatehi, drew more than 2.4 million views in less than 24 hours on YouTube.
A closing weekend full of big names
Mawazine promises that Friday, June 28, will be extra “festive.” First up is Chaabi singer Ikram El Abdia. At just 22 years old, Abdia is already a rising star in the Moroccan public eye and on social media.
Following her performance is singer-songwriter Abdellah Daoudi. The violin master has released more than 100 songs and performed both in Morocco and abroad.
Mawazine’s closing night, Saturday, June 29, will kick off with a performance from singer Hamid El Mardi, one Morocco’s most popular chaabi and rai singers. Following him is another chaabi star, Zina Daoudia, whose voice and violin skills have earned her fame internationally.
Mawazine, a festival in Rabat with six venues will take place from June 21 to June 29 and is organized by Maroc Cultures under the patronage of King Mohammed VI. Having drawn over 2.5 million attendees in recent years, Mawazine is the second largest music festival in the world, after Donauinselfest in Vienna, and the largest festival in Africa.
The festival brings in artists from countries all over the world as well as highlighting local Moroccan musicians. Last year, the festival saw major international acts perform such as Martin Garrix, Bruno Mars, Luis Fonsi, and The Weeknd.
The festival lists the democratization of culture in Morocco as one of its initiatives and provides free access to 90% of its shows each year.