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Morocco’s top music festival ends but not without glamour, glitz

The Gnaoua festival has already worked its magic on Essaouira. The city of wind has vibrated on the sound of magical Gnaoua music coming from Moulay El Hassan Place for the first evening of the Gnaoua World Music Festival

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The Gnaoua festival has already worked its magic on Essaouira. The city of wind has vibrated on the sound of magical Gnaoua music coming from Moulay El Hassan Place for the first evening of the Gnaoua World Music Festival.

From June 21 until June 23, the 21st Gnaoua World Music Festival is a musical communion full of emotions, as much for the artists as for the public. This year’s festival has followed the tradition, starting with a colorful opening parade from Maâlems (Gnaoua singers) in Essaouira’s Bab Doukkal.

The ceremony was attended by André Azoulay, adviser to the King and founding president of the Essaouira-

Mogador Association, and Neila Tazi, the event’s producer.

The show kicked off with a mesmerizing encounter between the legendary American jazz fusion band Snarky Puppy and the unbeatable Maâlem Gnaoui Hamid El Kasri, who together delighted the festival-goers with fresh and resounding melodies, the fruit of a four-day artistic residency in Essaouira.

Through exclusive compositions, Snarky Puppy, a collective accustomed to collaborating with artists of all stripes, conquered the music lovers who danced and sang relentlessly to the new rhythms brought to the most famous songs by Maâlem Hamid El Kasri, such as “La Illaha Illa Lah”, “Bania,” or “Assalat Ala Nabi.”

“Being able to play, like tonight, alongside great musicians and spend several days learning new things from them is an incredible opportunity,” said Snarky Puppy’s bassist and composer Michael League to the MAP.

“Gnaoua music has a particular spiritual significance that submerges the body and makes it go into a trance,” the three-time Grammy award winner added.

A new generation of maâlems from Casablanca, made up of Ismael Rahil, Brahim Hamam and Khalid Sansi, were then invited to the mythical scene, located between the beach and the old medina of the port city, to give a warm show, shouting loudly that a Tagnaouite (Gnaoua) youth is there to ensure the succession of this oral heritage.

Following the energetic band, the Moroccan group of fusion rock, hip hop, funk and folklore, Hoba Hoba Spirit took the stage to present their latest 13-track “Kamayanbaghi,” released in January 2018, reflecting the richness and diversity of the festival which always has new music in the program.

This unique musical event in Morocco began in 1998. Its purpose is to connect people with music and to allow listeners to forget life’s reality for a moment and indulge in spirituality.

“Since the birth of the festival, its unique character has given it a place of choice in cultural events that have confirmed to the world that Africa is more than ever a land of dialogue and creation,” said Neila Tazi.

The Gnaoua festival attracts an audience of 300,000 visitors each year. It offers a varied program to celebrate the Gnaoua heritage and to invite the best global jazz artists to come and perform in Essaouira.

At the festival, the singers, called maâlems, begin to chant in Arabic or Gnaoui. The message is usually spiritual.

Culture

Nigerian first class traditional ruler, Ooni of Ife, makes Hollywood debut

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Nigerian first class traditional ruler, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has made an incursion into the movie world when he recently made a historic debut in a new Hollywood flick titled “Take Me Home.”

The revered King who played a unique role in the movie that succinctly befits his throne as the custodian of Yorubaland, said his role helped to further accentuate and brings royalty, honour and authority to the silver screen.

Produced by renowned produced by Yoruba historian and filmmaker Dotun Taylor, the film, “Take Me Home” centres on the quest for originality and identity.

According to Taylor, the movie “tells the story of an American girl who became possessed after wearing an African masquerade costume that was stolen during a tour in Ile-Ife.”

“In a bid to save her life, her entire family, guided by the promises of two African immigrants, embarked on a journey that would land them in hot waters.”

“As the spiritual and traditional leader of the Yoruba people now saddled with the responsibility of making supplications to God and the Òrìṣà on behalf of his people, Ooni boldly depicted the rich culture of the Yorubas and its relevance in the western world.”

The epic movie also features top Hollywood actors like Dave Sheridan, Amber Rivette, Felissa Rose, Meji Black, and Nollywood actors Abdullateef Adedimeji and Bayo Bankole (Boy Alinco) among others.

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Culture

Uganda Grammy nominee, Eddy Kenzo, using music to pave way for deprived kids

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Ugandan musician and first Grammy Awards nominee from the country, Eddy Kenzo, says he is using his music and status to pave the way for deprived kids in the East African country.

Kenzo who grew up as an orphaned and homeless kid, recounted his story on Thursday, said he used to struggle to persuade DJs to play his songs, but now, is using his success to offer hopes that even the poorest person can triumph.

Kenzo, whose real name is Edrisah Musuuza, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Global Music Performance, said he has only one goal which is to “broadcast his culture to the world.”

“I try to use my culture and what I know to sell to the world. I sell the language that I speak, I sell the music we do here locally and I modernize it and put out the sound that comes from where I come from and it goes global,” the Grammy nominee told entertainment reporters.

Despite growing up underprivileged, Kenzo said he pursued his dreams and made a name for himself with his hit single “Stamina”, which grew to become one of the most popular songs in Africa and dominated the airwaves for months.

And despite his meteoric rise to stardom, Kenzo says he hasn’t forgotten his humble beginnings and is keen to pave the way for others like him.

Through his label Big Talent Entertainment, he now mentors Kampala’s disadvantaged youth to develop their musical talent.

Thirteen years after his big break, Kenzo is en route to take home a Grammy for “Gimme Love”, his 2022 Luganda-English song where he featured US musician Matt B.

“I love who I am, I love promoting who I am. I had to let him do what he does, but I had to make sure that I bring in myself in my own way. I started doing my Luganda and I taught him some of the pass, I told him to do it.

“And then this is what we did. And the message “Gimme Love” it’s all about giving love. Nothing could be better than that,” Kenzo said.

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