Gnaoua Festival in Morocco showcases African women artists

21st edition in Essaouira from 21/6 to 23/6

20 April, 12:51

    RABAT - This year's Gnaoua music festival in the Moroccan town of Essaouira will be focusing on African women artists and will run from June 21 to 23.
    Traditionally practiced throughout Morocco and originating from the sub-Saharan region, Gnaoua music comprises ancient African spiritual religious songs and rhythms.
    Among the performing artists in this 21st edition are some who have had to deal with a ban on their art, such as Fatoumata Diawara, and actress and singer-songwriter from Mali who had to flee to France after a fatwa by Islamists there.
    Diawara sings exclusively in her native language, refusing to translate the lyrics into French or English out of respect for the tradition of sacred Wassoulou songs. Asma Hamzaoui will be displaying her talent with guembri, a classical string instrument that is plucked by masters of the art seeking trances through notes originating in African slave songs. The opening act of the festival will be by the award-winning jam band Snarky Puppy. Other guests include Project BIM Group (Benin International Music), an artists' collective that combines voodoo rhytms and popular songs with modern electric groove. Much attention will be given to longstanding legends of the African musical world, such as Youssou N'Dour (Senegal), Amadou and Meriam (Mali), Oumou Sangaré (Mali), Baaa Mahal (Senegal) and Bassekou Kouyaté (Mali).
    First set up in 1998 and faithful to its African roots, the festival in Essaouira draws thousands of fans to the streets of the 'white medina' on the Atlantic. It has long been a tourist attraction dear to such stars as Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones and is on the World Heritage List. 

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