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Moroccan Music & Artists > Gnawa Diffusion - Gnaoua Sufi Brotherhood Religious Music
Travel To Morocco & Experience Gnaoua Brotherhood & Sufi Music
The Gnaoua brotherhood is a sufi religious group whose members are descendants of slaves, servers and prisoners that were brought from across the Sahara by the Arabs. They have devotees all over Morocco with the highest concentrations in Essaouira, Marrakech and Taroudannt.
The Gnaoua brotherhood claim spiritual descent from Siki Bilal, an Ethiopian who was the Propphet’s first muezzin. Most of the Gnaoua ceremonies, also referred to as lila, (the night) or (derdeba) the night of trance are held in the honor of spirits who inhabit a person or place. Here the seven spirits are evoked through around 100 chants. Especially in the Muslim month of Sha'aban, which is just before Ramadan, there are "lilas" held in the Gnaoua community.
Gnaoua ceremonies typically last all night long. The rituals of the Gnaoua (or Gnawa) follow rules that are part from the Muslim sufi tradition and partly of African animistic origin similar to the traditions that are found in the African Diaspora, Brazil, Cuba and Haiti.
Each Gnaoua troupe is lead by a ma’lem, master, who plays the gimbri, the principal instrument which has a long necked lute. Another sound that is characteristic of Gnaoua is the garagab, a pair of metal castanets, which beat out a trance-like rhythm.
Gnaoua music is considered a mystical music. Today, Gnaoua music has become popular and is heard at festivals in Essaouria, Marrakech and Fes. The Gnaoua Festival which takes place in Essaouira each June draws close to 500,000 people from around the world and has popularized the genre while surprising its cosmopolitan audience with a rich program of the finest musicians from around the globe.
Great musicians who have performed at The Gnaoua Festival since its first edition in 1998 are: Trio Joubran with bluesman Justin Adams, Toumani Diabaté, Eric Legnini, KyMani Marley, Wayne Shorter, the National Orchestra of Barbès, Hassan Hakmoun, Will Calhonn, Adam Rudolf, Sussan Deyhim, Steve Shehan, Yéyé Kanté, Adam Rudolph, Mokhtar Samba, Yaya Ouattara, Jamey Haddad, Jacques Schwarz-Bart, and Ramon Valle.
The new generations of Gnaoua maâlems who have performed at the Gnaoua Festival are: Saïd Boulhimas, Midnight Shems, Darga, and Rif Gnawa. The established maâlems who have performed are: Allal Soudani, Saïd El Bourqui and Abdeslam Belghiti, Maâlem Abdallah El Gourd de Tanger. Maâlem Abdeslam Alikane et Tyour D’EssaouiraMaâlem Amida Boussou de Casablanca, Maâlem Brahim Balkani de Marakech, Maâlem Mahmoud Guinea d’Essaouira. Maâlem Abdelhatif Al Makhzoumi, Maâlem Allal Goubani, Maâlem Cherif Regragui, Maâlem Hayate, Saïd Boukri , Al Belghiti, Maâlem Abdallah El Gourd de Tanger, Maâlem Abdeslam Alikane et Tyour D’Essaouira, Maâlem Amida Boussou de Casablanca, Maâlem Brahim Balkani de Marakech, Maâlem Mahmoud Guinea d’Essaouira, Maâlem Abdelhatif Al Makhzoumi, Maâlem Allal Goubani, Maâlem Cherif Regragui, Maâlem Hayate, Saïd Boukri and Al Belghiti.