Morocco. Gnaoua and World Music Festival From June 27 to 29 in Essaouira

The 25th edition of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival and a quarter of a century at the service of the promotion of this ancestral music. Some 400 artists are expected, and several headliners.

Gnaoua and World Music Festival
Goumari Gnaoua

When it was created in 1998, the Gnaoua and World Music Festival aimed to rehabilitate a heritage with deep African roots that were in danger of disappearing, highlight the splendor of the Essaouira destination, which was going through a rough patch at the time, and contribute to the promotion of Moroccan culture worldwide. Today, these objectives have been achieved and even exceeded expectations.

In this regard, declares Neïla Tazi, producer of the Festival: "The ancestral culture of the Gnaoua is an invaluable treasure that we have passionately defended for over 25 years and have had inscribed on the UNESCO list. The music of the Gnaoua has left its mark on the world music scene. This culture and this festival have served Morocco in its most emblematic aspects, its message of peace, coexistence, and openness to the world."

From June 27 to 29, it's the 25th edition of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival that will unfold in all its splendor. This edition will mark the beginning of a new chapter resolutely focused on the future and carrying out structuring and sustainable projects.

Contribution from Berklee College of Music in Boston

On the occasion of this 25th edition, the Festival is launching 2 new projects with great ambitions:

  • The launch of a training program in partnership with one of the most prestigious music institutions in the world, Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts. This program will take place in Essaouira from June 24 to 29.
  • The creation of a chair dedicated to Gnaoua culture in partnership with the "Center for African Studies" of the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University of Benguerir.

The first project is in line with the work undertaken by the Festival for several years: to put Morocco at the heart of world music and encourage talents from the African continent. The second joins the series of initiatives carried out by the Festival to deepen the knowledge and transmission of the Gnaoua heritage.

In the current global context where this mission becomes even more important, Essaouira and the Gnaoua maâlems (masters) will welcome musicians, intellectuals, journalists, and music lovers from all over the world to carry together the messages of fraternity, tolerance, and peace.

Gnaoua and World Music Festival
Gnaoua festival of essaouira

Some 53 concerts!

Among the 400 artists who will perform during this 25th edition, the Festival will present 34 Gnaoua maâlems and a total of 53 concerts, including 6 fusion concerts.

Among these fusions, the opening concert promises an explosion of rhythms blending Gnaoua, Brazilian Batucada, Spanish Flamenco, and Zaouli from Ivory Coast genres to highlight their similarities. Maâlem Hassan Boussou (Casablanca) and Maâlem Mly Taieb Dehbi (Marrakech) with the Dumanlé company (Ivory Coast), Nino de Los Reyes (Spain), and Ilê Aiyê (Brazil) promise a highly festive opening!

Another fusion not to be missed under any circumstances is the one that will bring together Mâalem Hamid El Kasri with the Bokanté group (United States, Canada) founded by guitarist Michael League (Snarky Puppy), multiple Grammy Award nominee, "a captivating and unforgettable experience" according to The New York Times.

Rising stars take center stage

This pioneering, avant-garde, and committed festival has always given rising stars a prominent place. This year, the audience will have the pleasure of seeing, among others, the polyglot Palestinian rapper Saint Levant (Marwan Abdelhamid is his real name) as well as the powerful duo Aita mon amour, consisting of Moroccan singer Widad Mjama and Tunisian musician Khalil Epi, who brilliantly revisit traditional Moroccan popular music to bring it up to date.

This year, festival-goers will also be able to listen to one of the most beautiful voices in flamenco, the Spanish singer of Equatorial Guinean origin Buika, praised by the international press for her unique voice. The concert of legendary American Jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker, a seven-time Grammy Award winner, will also be one of the highlights of this new vintage.

Gnaoua and World Music Festival
Gambri Maalem (Master)

And the 11th edition of the Human Rights Forum

Parallel to the concerts, the 11th edition of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival Human Rights Forum will be held, organized in partnership with the Council of the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME) around the topical theme "Morocco, Spain, Portugal: a history that has a future."

A few years away from the historic event of the joint organization of the 2030 World Cup, we will explore the richness and complexity of the relations uniting Morocco, Spain, and Portugal. Bringing together some twenty diverse personalities, the Forum will address, over two mornings, topics related to the shared history, the place and role of diasporas, mobility, and the impact of the 2030 World Cup on neighborhood issues.

Committed artists, powerful voices, and exceptional musicians: The headliners of the 25th edition of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival promise to set the stages ablaze!

For more information on the Gnaoua Festival, check out these articles:

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